Getting out alive
At 12:55 p.m. on May 4, it was sixth hour at the Gilman School, but it wasn’t what one would call a normal school day. Students, teachers and staff were waiting for an intruder to enter the building during an ALICE training drill.
Once the “intruder,” Deputy Nick Schuld, Taylor County SWAT team, gained access into the building firing several blank shots into the office area, the school initiated ALICE procedures. Those in the building were asked to evacuate the school and call 911.
“You just got to act on what you’re thinking – sometimes you can’t even think,” said senior April Sadler. “It really gets the adrenaline rushing.”
Although a few chose to barricade themselves in classrooms and wait for help, most of the students and staff fled the school, meeting up at a designated church up the block.
Schuld says he mostly bypassed the barricaded areas, preferring a “target rich environment.” The “intruder” looked for a large group to fire shots at, but said except for the time he heard voices around a corner and saw kids running from the school, it was hard to find anyone.
“Any hallway I could get to, any door that was open, I went in,” said Schuld.
Schuld did attempt to get in a barricaded room by calling for help, but those inside did not respond.
“If you’re holed up in a room somewhere, it’s a possibility you’re going to be there for hours,” said Sgt. Steve Bowers, Taylor County Swat team. “Don’t think we forgot about you…we’ll get you as soon as we can. Stay locked in your room and wait for us.”
Those outside the school made their way to the church reunification point, where teachers and staff began a check list process to ensure everyone was accounted for. Files are kept at the church in case of an emergency, with teachers keeping in contact by cell phone.
While the majority of the students headed directly for the church, a few exited the school where they could, eventually making their way to the reunification point.
“They can run to Lublin for all I care, but let someone know,” said fifth grade teacher John Quinnell.
Middle and high school principal Dan Peggs agreed. “We want you safe. Just get out, we’ll find you later.”
See this week's issue of The Star News for the complete story.