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Law Enforcement Agencies, Volunteers Take Part In NJ ‘Active Shooter’ Drill

Exercise Designed To Test Emergency Response To Incident At A School
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WEST ORANGE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Students, teachers, parents and law enforcement took part Tuesday in an “active shooter” drill at a school in West Orange.

The drill at Liberty Middle School was designed to test the response of a dozen law enforcement agencies to a situation similar to last year’s mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

“The protection of our young people is our highest priority,” West Orange Mayor Robert Parisi said in a statement. “Unfortunately, as we’ve seen in recent years, no school is immune to the possibility of an attack. This is an especially important drill because it increases our effort to provide safe and secure buildings for our students.”

As CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported, several controlled explosions erupted at a school in West Orange, as police officers and a SWAT team stormed in right behind an armored vehicle.

As CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported, several controlled explosions erupted at a school in West Orange, as police officers and a SWAT team stormed in right behind an armored vehicle.
Inside, the search was on as if there were suspects with guns inside. The drill looked real and dramatic for the students who took part, running out in what looked like a panic.

“The police came in and they were like, ‘Get down! Get down!’ because they didn’t know if there were shooters or not,” said student Brian Cheda. “I actually thought I was going to get shot for a moment. I was really scared.”

Cheda, who played the role of a student calling for help, gets shot in the drill — not by police, but by an active shooter. Other students were inside too.

“They told me to specifically stay away from the doors and windows,” said student Katherine Pineda.

The nightmarish make-believe scenario involved four shooters inside the Liberty Middle School in West Orange.

“There is an active shooter in the building now,” a school official said over the PA system for the drill. “Get into lockdown now. This is not a drill.”

Emergency officials took down four shooters making their way through the school on Tuesday as part of the drill.

“I went in to my left; my partner went to the right got shot in the leg,” said West Orange police Sgt. John Morella.

The exercise also included a car explosion and a helicopter overhead as first responders acted.

Officials said it was good practice for the worst case scenario.

“You’re sweating down the crack of your back and you feel it, it’s intense,” Sgt. David Naimaister of the West Orange Police Department told WCBS 880’s Monica Miller. “I played football a long time ago and same intense feeling, when you’re about to go on that kickoff.”

Law enforcement agencies and volunteers take part in an active shooter drill at Liberty Middle School in West Orange, NJ on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013. (credit: Monica Miller/WCBS 880)

Law enforcement agencies and volunteers take part in an active shooter drill at Liberty Middle School in West Orange, NJ on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013. (credit: Monica Miller/WCBS 880)

The county also makes use of a state-of-the-art bomb- and bulletproof armored vehicle.

“”It’s armored on the floor – side, bullet proof glass,” said Essex County Homeland Security Chief Gary Chin. “It can protect you from IEDs — explosive devices.”

West Orange schools superintendent Jim O’Neill said the drill showed that students and staff are ready, but noted better communication is necessary.

“Maybe how much information we have to convey when we make the initial call,” he told Miller.

The drill came on the same day as a real incident in Decatur, Ga.

Students and teachers ran out of the Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy after shots were fired. No one was injured, and a suspect was caught with an assault rifle afterward.

Nearly 100 volunteers participated in the New Jersey drill, which cost $140,000.

The exercise was funded by a grant from the Department of Homeland Security.

Officials said it’s one of the largest drills of its kind ever conducted in the state.

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