[Here is a typical example of the effects of American mass-media attempts to terrorize the population for the purpose of forcing us into making political and personal concessions–THE VERY DEFINITION OF “TERRORISM.” The total assholes behind this ill-conceived script were more concerned with putting-on a national show from the safety and seclusion of their remote Oregon location. If ever the scenario which was enacted becomes real in their little hamlet, it will be because of the state terrorism which has dispatched real programmed assassins to their neighborhood not because of some traumatized little boy who has played too many versions of TOUR OF DUTY. Does Oregon have a teachers’ program for post-traumatic shock?
Lawsuits to follow…]
Email the author
Once known everywhere as Half.com, “the world’s first Internet city,” the eastern Oregon town of Halfway, population 288, hides among the shade trees at the base of the Wallowa Mountains, not far from both the Eagle Cap Wilderness and parts of the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.
HALFWAY — Two masked men wearing hoodies and wielding handguns burst into the Pine Eagle Charter School in this tiny rural community on Friday. Students were at home for an in-service day, so the gunmen headed into a meeting room full of teachers and opened fire.
Someone figured out in a few seconds that the bullets were not drawing blood because they were blanks and the exercise was a drill, designed to test Pine Eagle’s preparation for an assault by “active shooters” who were, in reality, members of the school staff. But those few seconds left everybody plenty scared.
Principal Cammie DeCastro said it became clear very quickly just how many of the school’s 15 teachers would have survived. The answer: “Not many,” she said.
Elementary teacher Morgan Gover, 31, said only two teachers would have lived to tell the tale. She admitted being scared, and also acknowledged she would have been among the casualties, having taken several fake direct hits from the shooters.
“I’ll tell you, the whole situation was horrible,” she said. “I got a couple in the front and a couple in the back.”
The surprised staff had received training from the Union County Sheriff’s Office on active shooter scenarios. They had been told they had some options, such as not rushing out of their classrooms when gunfire erupted, and locking and barricading their doors.
They weren’t expecting a drill like this, and they were caught by surprise when the two men entered and began firing.
“There was some commotion,” DeCastro said.
The goal of the drill was to learn how people would react, so better emergency plans could be made, she said.
It was a wake-up for many of the teachers.
“It was shocking,” said elementary teacher Dollie Beck, 54.
Surprisingly, the drill made Beck aware that she would not have recognized the sounds of gunfire. “I would have blown it off as kids’ sounds in the hall,” she said.
The drill has since prompted her to keep her classroom door locked and to think of windows as escape routes, she said. But the biggest insight for her was the reminder that she is in charge of the youngsters in her classroom, and would have to remain calm in an emergency.
“Emotion begets emotion,” she said.
Gover said before the drill, she was comfortable she had a plan to deal with such a situation. What she learned was, her plan wasn’t much good. “It heightened my awareness about what’s around me,” she said.
Halfway, population 288, is the eastern Oregon ranching town that became world-famous 13 years ago as the globe’s first “Internet city.” The city council changed Halfway’s name to Half.com in return for $73,000 from a Philadelphia-based Internet bazaar of the same name that sold books, CDs, movies and the like on-line at half price.
The town got its old name back a year later when the on-line bazaar was sold to eBay. Now Halfway is back in the real world, where people sometimes enter schools and open fire.
DeCastro has heard some criticisms of the drill from townsfolk, but is convinced it was valuable. “For us not to know how we were going to respond is leaving us open,” she said.
Beck and Gover agree.
“I’m in charge of a pile of kids,” said Gover. “It made me analyze as a teacher what my role is for these babies.”
The district’s Safety Committee and the School Board now will critically evaluate policies and procedures and decide what to do next, said DeCastro.
Armed teachers is one possible outcome, she said. Or the district may get armed and trained volunteers from the community to watch over the school in shifts, she said. Tougher doors and better locks are other options.
Gover said the teachers tend to favor having one or two armed teachers in the building at all times.
“We are so remote,” Gover said, “we are going to have to take care of ourselves.”
But thinking about active shooter scenarios is hard, she said.
“We are tender-hearted people who give hugs all day. We don’t think like that.”
— Richard Cockle