St. Charles Herald-Guide

Boom! Boom! Boom!

Jennifer Nall - October 23, 2006

Boom. Boom. Boom. Shots fired. More shots fired. A bomb explodes. Smoke fills the halls.

This was the scene Fri., Oct. 13, at Ethel Schoeffner Elementary School during a dramatic mock school shooting and disaster drill that the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office had planned for months.

Before the drill began, Lieutenant Rodney Madere of the St. Charles Parish sheriff's department, briefed teachers, students and all who were participating about what was going to happen.

"We are doing this to prepare and protect our children. This is a great learning opportunity for all of us," Madere said.

Madere also told the teachers and students "to respond like you would normally on any given day.”

“You do not know,” he warned, “what to expect."

When the clock struck 1 p.m. the first of four armed men in a ski masks entered the school. The alarm sounded and a lady over the intercom announced that the school was on “lock down.”

The man was shooting and explosions were set off inside of the school.

Shortly after, three more armed men with orange ski masks roamed the halls. Shots fired. More shots fired.

Suddenly, smoke filled the halls of the school. Alarms sounded. Loud noise both inside and outside, from sirens, alarms, guns, and explosives.

Children were running and screaming in the halls. Some with blood dripping down their faces.

Another bomb exploded. Dust and debris flying everywhere. White dust particles from the bomb hung heavy in the air around the school.

Two boys were “shot” - the fake injuries were planned in advance by police - and laying in the halls.

One of the gunmen, dressed all in black with a black book bag, enters each classroom, shooting a rifle as he does. He then stands in the middle of the hall shooting in every direction.

More children are rushing from the halls pretending - as was planned in advance - to be fearful and in shock.

The scene outside the school was fevered and busy, too. Lawmen from the special response team enter the building. Helicopters are circling the building. Cops carrying children who are pretending to be injured exit the school.

Soon after, emotional and concerned parents arrive - acting parts assigned by police to bring even more realism to the mock disaster. Police officers have to restrain them.

A helicopter lands in the school parking lot to tend to the “injured.” Ambulances arrive as well as a fire truck.

Emergency crews tend to students and teachers dripping with red liquid that looks like blood. Some are laying down on stretchers which were set up in the school's parking lot and grass area.

More students are carried out of the school. The East St. Charles Parish Volunteer Fire Department arrives.

Meanwhile, more teachers are escorted out the building by lawmen. Outside, cops were identifying the teachers that were in the school. They had to give their names, addresses, telephone numbers and tell about what they witnessed in the school.

"This is the first time we did something of this magnitude," said Captain Pat Yoes of the St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office.

Yoes notes that the drill was planned for months - long before the Amish school shootings in Pennsylvania made international headlines.

"The main goal is to have our deputies prepared for an emergency situation," stated Sheriff Greg Champagne.

"The mock school shooting was designed to be chaos. And school shootings can take place anywhere.”

Kayla Beams, 15, of Hahnville High School, said, "I was scared and I did not know what to do."

Many of the students’ reactions from the mock school shooting were the same.

Representatives in from all St. Charles Parish schools and central office were in participation.

Boom! Boom! Boom!