Public Safety & Homeland Security

Fountain School Shooter Exercise Prepares for Worst-Case Scenario

It's the nightmare no one wants to live, but it's a reality law enforcement officers, school officials and students have to be prepared to handle.

by Seth Bodine, The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) / June 12, 2017
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(TNS) — Ammo casings littered the entrance to the dimly lit gym basement of Fountain Middle school. Cole Davison, a junior at Fountain-Fort Carson, Colo., High School, sat on the stairs yelling at a man with a gun. The man fired a shot at Davison, hitting him in the foot. Police managed to drag the student to safety, then went back into the school. Two gunmen were inside and students were missing.

It's the nightmare no one wants to live, but it's a reality law enforcement officers, school officials and students have to be prepared to handle.

During a three-day training exercise this week, the Fountain Police Department and eight other agencies practiced responding to an active shooter and other emergencies. On Friday, the final day, police and other agencies dealt with a worst-case scenario: two armed intruders with hostages in the basement of the school's gym.

Davison has participated in the exercises in past years, and this year more students and faculty were included to make the experience as real as possible. Last year, he was evacuated almost immediately, but this year, he played a different role.

"I overthink everything, so there's always a possibility of it happening, but doing this I know certain situations and how to get out of them," Davison said.

On Thursday and Friday, teams of officers from different departments would respond to different emergencies. Scenarios ranged from domestic violence situations in schools to students with a weapon in the library. Sgt. Scott Gilbertsen of the Fountain Police Department described the library scenario as difficult.

"The student in the library, it was a little girl with a handgun" who was threatening suicide, said Sgt. Scott Gilbertsen of the Fountain Police Department. "But it was good scenarios, good training."

Kyle Monson, who works in IT at Fountain Police Department, played the part of "bad guy number two." He had red welts on the side of his arm and a large bruise on his stomach from having been shot with paintballs during the exercise.

"I see the guys operate day to day but never from the other side," Monson said of his colleagues.

Keith Owen, superintendent of the Fountain Fort Carson School District, said training is essential, but he hopes it's never needed.

"We really are committed to make sure all our students and staff, and families have the safest environments to learn in, and these kinds of partnerships help make sure we keep our community safe," Owen said.

Lt. Brian Pearson of the Fountain Police Department said a big factor for officers in emergency scenarios is to keep calm.

"It's to breathe, calm yourself down, don't get tunnel vision or blackout and breathe and work with the training you've been provided to deal with a situation," Pearson said.

"Our whole objective here is to get a feeling the students and the police and the school (know what to expect) and this is what we need you to do."


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