IRT, APD hold shooter training

Published 1:23 am Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Dr. Daniel Shakespeare discusses the logistics of Tuesday’s active shooter exercise with law enforcement officers, Brett Holmes, Nic Ireland and David Hamby.

Just as police were dealing with another school shooting Tuesday – one that left one dead and three others injured at a college near Houston – local law enforcement officers were training on how to confront to an active shooter.

The class – jointly sponsored by the Covington County Incident Response Team and the Andalusia Police Department – was held at the Wilbur Williams Training Facility. A second class, sponsored by the IRT team and the Opp Police Department, will be held Thursday in Opp.

The local classes were scheduled before Gov. Robert Bentley said earlier this week that only 27 percent of the state’s police were trained on how to confront an active shooter – a number that needed to be improved upon. In total, 29 officers from the Covington County Sheriff’s Office, the Florala Police Department, the Alabama Alcohol Beverage Control Board, DA’s office, and the Andalusia and Opp police departments will have finished the training by the end of the week.

Opp Chief Mike McDonald, who also serves as IRT commander, said the specifics of the training couldn’t be discussed for obvious reasons. Officers practiced Tuesday afternoon inside Andalusia High School after school dismissed.

“What is being learned is the techniques and tactics for patrol officers who respond to an active shooter at a school, or business, or wherever,” McDonald said. “It teaches them to appropriately respond to act accordingly to save lives. I think it’s kind of ironic that there was a school shooting going on as we speak. I hope it’s not an omen of things to come.”

At least two students were shot at Lone Star College on its Houston-area campus in Texas on Tuesday, a school official said.

According to Jed Young, a school spokesman, the Texas shooting began with an altercation “involving two individuals” shortly during the noon hour. Two people – one student and one employee – were shot in the crossfire, the spokesman said. The extent of their injuries was not immediately known. According to Houston’s ABC affiliate, both victims suffered multiple gun shot wounds and are in serious condition.

One of the suspected shooters was shot and taken into custody, and a second shooter fled the campus, the spokesman said. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office said the situation remains “ongoing,” but confirmed that a “person of interest” was detained and is in custody.

According to CNN, a fourth victim suffered a heart attack during the incident.

It’s unclear if the suspected shooters were students at the school. Initial reports suggested the shooting may have escalated after a heated argument between them.

The Lone Star College System has a total enrollment of more than 90,000 students across six campuses, according to its website.

The shooting comes a little more than five weeks after 26 people – including 20 children – were killed after a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., sparking a national debate on gun control.