BY ALYSSA MEIER
Screams echoed through the halls of Washburn Public School on Thursday, as victims barricaded themselves in classrooms and crouched against lockers that were the same shade of red as their open wounds. One woman clung to a wall as armed officers raced by, toward the sound of gunshots. Her arm grazed a white brick wall in the common area of the school, leaving a streak of crimson behind her as she dropped to the floor.
But the woman on the floor was uninjured, the blood fake, the screams emitted by actors. It was all part of an extensive active shooter simulation that took place Thursday as part of a training exercise for first responders and school staff.
It all started with a gunman, standing in the common are of the school armed with two handguns loaded with blanks. The man, a backpack slung over his shoulders fires a shot or two into the carpet, letting the sound of the shot and the smell of gunpowder fill the school entryway.
The shooter takes off running toward the high school where the screams start. Seconds later, calls start coming into the McLean County Sheriff’s Department dispatch. Callers use a code -- exercise, exercise, exercise -- to let the dispatcher know the call is part of the drill before getting into character.
Different callers play out a variety of scenarios, some describing wounds, others describing the shooter, another taking on a vigilante approach.
“If you don’t get down here, I’m getting my shotgun and I’ll take him out myself,” One man said over the phone, as screams continued in the background.