During a January school shooting drill in Monticello, Indiana, teachers were shot “execution style” with compressed-air-powered pellet guns, resulting in welts and broken skin, a representative of the state’s largest teachers union said Wednesday.
Gail Zeheralis, director of government relations for the Indiana State Teachers Association, revealed the story during a hearing on a school safety bill Wednesday before the state senate’s education committee. The ITSA is fighting to include language in the bill prohibiting the use of such projectiles in future drills.
In the teachers union’s words, Zeheralis told lawmakers that “During active shooter drill, four teachers at a time were taken into a room, told to crouch down and were shot execution style with some sort of projectiles – resulting in injuries to the extent that welts appeared, and blood was drawn.”
The Indianapolis Star confirmed the claim with two unnamed teachers, one of whom said that members of the local sheriff’s office running the drill told them: “This is what happens if you just cower and do nothing [during an active shooter scenario].” The Star’s sources said teachers weren’t made aware ahead of time that they could be shot.
“They shot all of us across our backs,” the teachers said. “I was hit four times. It hurt so bad.”
A member of the ISTA told the Star that they were fighting to get the school safety bill, HB 1004, to include a prohibition on using projectiles during the shooter drills. The drills have grown quite common nationwide as school shootings have captured headlines and taken dozens of lives.
White County Sheriff Bill Brooks told the paper of his department’s use of so-called “airsoft” guns during active shooter drills: “It’s a soft, round projectile. The key here is ‘soft.'” Brooks said his department stopped using the guns after they were “made aware that one teacher was upset.”
The training used in Meadowlawn Elementary School that January day is known as “ALICE” — Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate — an “option-based” strategy. Some “option-based” strategies have been criticized both for lack of effectiveness and injuries caused during training.
ISTA wrote of the teachers shot with airsoft guns in January: “The teachers were terrified, but were told not to tell anyone what happened. Teachers waiting outside that heard the screaming were brought into the room four at a time and the shooting process was repeated.”
Pictured above: An ‘active shooter’ enters a classroom as ‘students’ take cover during ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate) training at the Harry S. Truman High School in Levittown, Pennsylvania, on November 3, 2015. ALICE is designed to educate local and school-based law enforcement, as well as administrators, teachers and others about the research-based, proactive response approach to violent Intruder events. AFP PHOTO/JEWEL SAMAD / AFP / JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)