Exeter School hosts active shooter training

Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Sgt. Justin David Ruark and Deputies Cody Stephens and Angela Cole, of the Barry County Sheriff's Department, look for "intruders" in the Exeter School building during the first of two active shooter scenarios. Exeter Athletic Director Jay Allen, who is lying on the floor, played the part of a victim. Jason Johnston reporter@cassville-democrat.com

Sheriff: Deputies must be familiar with layouts of area schools

EXETER -- The Barry County Sheriff's Department coordinated two active shooter scenarios at the Exeter School District Thursday, aiming to prepare first responders and school personnel.

"We've got a lot to learn on this, but we do it for training purposes in case the real thing does happen," said Mick Epperly, Barry County sheriff. "And for my deputies, the best thing to do is to get them familiar with the layout of the schools."

Deputy Angela Cole, of the Barry County Sheriff's Department, sweeps a hall for "intruders" during an active shooter scenario at the Exeter School District. Jason Johnston reporter@cassville-democrat.com

The first scenario involved four intruders who were in different areas of the building, said Exeter High School Principal Robert Taylor.

"We locked down [the school], then I called 911," Taylor said. "I've got cameras set up in my department. So, I could see a couple injured people. I could see a couple of intruders.

"The police came in and swept the building. As soon as they secured it, they let me know."

Deputy Gary Snook, of the Barry County Sheriff's Department, points his gun outside a doorway in the Exeter School building as Master Sgt. Carl Cosper and Deputy Chris Hutson provide assistance during the active shooter scenario. Jason Johnston reporter@cassville-democrat.com

The deputies would go to the classroom and escort the teachers out of the building, he said. School buses took the teachers and staff to a safe area, which was the First Baptist Church in Exeter, to be processed out. No students were part of the training.

"If we did have students, they would have been in their classrooms and then we would put them on the buses, take them to a secure place, and then process them out to their parents at that point," Taylor said.

The second scenario was a little more confusing, he said. Taylor was notified of an intruder in the building who had hostages. At that point, he immediately locked down the school, and then called 911.

Deputy Al Zabala, of the Barry County Sheriff's Department, provides cover fire during the first of two active shooter scenarios at the Exeter School District Thursday. Jason Johnston reporter@cassville-democrat.com

"When I talked to them, I couldn't see anybody," Taylor said.

Elementary School Principal Tim Jordan sent Taylor a text message that Jordan and other staff members had been taken hostage in the front Department, a message Taylor said he relayed to the emergency dispatcher.

After deputies entered the school, they located an intruder with a hostage in a classroom. They also located an intruder with the hostages in the front office. About five deputies had to fall to the ground during the second scenario because the intruders shot them. Other deputies then escorted the teachers and staff out of the building.

Lt. Randy Kalbaugh, of the Barry County Sheriff's Department, is in the Exeter School District front office during the second active shooter scenario, where an intruder had hostages. Jason Johnston reporter@cassville-democrat.com

"We want to be as prepared as best as we can to protect our students as best as we can, because you don't really know what to do unless you go through these things," Taylor said. "If something did happen, everybody would be doing different things.

"We all need to be on the same page and that way everybody knows what everyone else is doing, and we can all work together to try and make it as safe as we can."

Ernest Raney, Exeter School superintendent, said some of the feedback gained from the exercise will be invaluable.

"I think it was very eye-opening," Raney said. "It was good for us, and we are going to have some follow-up training as well."

A Barry County conservation agent, Exeter Police Chief Morgan Struble, the Exeter Fire Department and CoxHealth emergency medical technicians were involved with the scenarios.

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