Active shooter training with Rolla Police Department officers recently took place at the Richland R-IV Schools. Thursday, Rolla Middle School students heard speaker Larry Scott, the uncle of 17 year-old Rachel Scott, the first student to perish in the horrible Columbine High School shooting in April of '99. This article and the coming Weekend edition feature about the Rolla Middle School assembly, where students learned about "Rachel's Challenge," cover the reality of what can be done to stop the violence.

The 5th graders filed in and took comfortable seats in the Rolla Middle School auditorium on Thursday afternoon. They had assembled to listen to speaker Larry Scott, the uncle of 17 year-old Rachel Scott, the first student to perish in the horrible Columbine High School shooting in April of ’99.

These students were here because the story of evil that terrible day has not ended and there are lessons to learn. Remember the Red Lake Senior High School in 2005? How about the West Nickel Mines Amish School shooting? Sandy Hook Elementary School—probably?; but maybe not Marysville-Pilchuck High School. That shooting occurred in October of 2014.

ABC’s broadcast journalist Diane Sawyer hosted a special 20/20 program in 2016 with Sue Klebold, the mother of Columbine High School killer Dylan Klebold. She cited the FBI records number “50,” as the number of mass murders or attempted mass murders at a school since Columbine.
These 5th graders at Rolla Elementary were about to get up close and personal with the tragedy.

(Editor’s note: this story at the Rolla Middle School will be featured in the  Weekend edition of RDN, but it touches on the efforts of Cpl. Steven Gray and Cpt. Jim Macormic with the Rolla Police Department (RPD)—what the RPD is trying to accomplish in the area to be prepared in a world that will never be the same—not since April 20, 1999 at Columbine High.)

Cpl. Gray spoke with RDN about the efforts of the SWAT team to prepare our local police departments and schools for a day many hope never comes. Knowing the threat exists, he asked for specific details to be left out of the conversation.

Cpl. Gray said active shooter training has been going on in the region for five or six years. He said training in the schools has now changed—after studying shooter behavior in the aftermath of greater than 50 shooting or attempted shooting incidents. The program is called Run—Hide—Fight.
“The idea is, if you have a shooter come into the school, anybody that’s not in that part of the school needs to evacuate the school as quickly as possible,” explained Cpl. Gray. “We want to get any possible victims out of the building, so they can’t be harmed.”

The SWAT team leader said RPD’s Cpt. Jim Macormic goes into schools and teaches faculty how to respond to shooter situations and says how the administrators and teachers communicate under stress is very important.
“Particularly in these big high schools,” he emphasized. “You could have a shooting on one side and the other side would never know, because you just don’t hear it.”

“I teach the tactics to the officers—how they will respond in that [shooting] situation,” said Cpl. Gray.

He said right after Columbine, the training was to set up a perimeter and wait for the SWAT team. “That’s not the way it works anymore,” he said. “If you’re there (as a first responding officer), we want to get you in the building as quick as you can to engage the individual, before he can harm anybody else. We teach them how to enter a building, how to clear hallways, the classrooms and then what they do if they come into contact with the suspect.

Most all Phelps County schools have had training. Cpl. Gray says the training begins after school starts to train new teachers and give a refresher course to those that have had the training.

“It just reinforces what we’ve been going over the last several years,” he said. He explained that as law enforcement officers, they can only do so much to try recognize a possible active shooting threat.

“We rely on teachers and staff to see and hear things—that’s where it really starts,“ he noted. “Sgt. Wayne Rapier, our school resource officer has a good idea of what’s going on. If he sees a student having trouble, they try to intervene to get that child some help.”

Active shooter training with RPD officers recently took place at the Richland R-IV Schools. Police departments that participated included, Richland Police Department, Waynesville Police Department and Crocker Police Department. Simulation gunfire (no live ammunition) was added to the training to allow faculty to hear what gunfire actually sounds like echoing through the halls. "This training is the first step to continuing education for our teachers, students and employee's" said Superintendent Doug Smith.