Shortly after 1 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 14, an armed man entered Paris Elementary School, walked into a second grade classroom and took hostages. A short time later, he killed a responding Paris Police Department officer. As other PPD officers responded, they talked the man into surrendering and placed him into custody.
Relax. It was only a drill. However, things were learned, according to Paris School Superintendent Wayne Fawcett.
“We learned that some of the equipment didn’t work and that’s why you have drills like this,” Fawcett said last week. “The equipment issues were addressed immediately. The drill was a success because we learned something. The teachers got to see far more than they did last time.”
The last active shooter drill staged by the school district took place in 2015 and involved multiple attackers storming Paris High School. In that drill, multiple “deaths” occurred.
“This time, all teachers and administrators got involved,” Fawcett said. “Paris Middle School and Paris High School teachers basically played the role of students. Once the intruder entered the building, all classrooms went on lock down and the police were called. Once we verified that students and teachers were in a safe place, teachers not involved in the second grade hallway gathered in the cafeteria where they could see what was happening.”
Once the drill ended, Fawcett and Paris Police Chief John O’Brien led a question and answer session with teachers and administrators gathered in the cafeteria.
“We had a good processing session afterward,” Fawcett said. “I thought the drill went really well. Of course, we changed some things from two years ago. The elementary school is a much more closed building than the high school, which is a large building. We have to be careful in how we describe these drills because we don’t want everybody knowing our plans, but it was a good exercise.
By the way, Fawcett said the only person they could get to volunteer as the shooter was school district employee Richard Zimmer. Once the drill was over, Zimmer, who spent some time during the drill sitting in the back seat of a PPD patrol car, was released.