There are enough stories in the news of mass shootings to make active shooter drills a mainstay of any organization's emergency preparedness plan, which is why Catholic Charities in Omaha, NE, hired a local Air Force police officer, John Channels, to run the drill for them.
They told him to "make it as realistic as possible."
The drill started with Channels showing up outside a conference room window wearing a mask and hoodie. He banged on the window, pulled out a gun filled with blanks and fired it into the air, then he lowered the gun and began firing "at" the window.
Panic ensued as employees fled the conference room. In the hallway, they were greeted with bodies lying on the floor covered in fake blood.
One employee ran out of the building, jumped over a retaining wall, and hid in a dumpster. An older woman who could not run very fast said she thought, "This is it. I'm done."
Absolute chaos unfolded as others went completely hysterical.
Of course, some level-headed employees managed to call the police while they hid from the "shooter."
This guy was like a real-life Dwight Schrute!
The police believed that an active-shooter situation was in progress and acted accordingly. Apparently, Channels had dropped off paperwork at the receptionist's desks of various first responders, but not verified that it had been received by the appropriate parties.
First responders arrived to find Channels trying to calm down participants, and also apparently trying to sell them guns, so they would feel safer.
Channels was arrested and charged with "making terroristic threats," which seems like an odd charge, but Nebraska law includes actions that "threaten people with ‘reckless disregard of causing such terror or evacuation'" under the header of terroristic threats.
Erin Wetzel, Channels's attorney, thinks the charges ignore Catholic Charities's involvement and said,
"It sounds like (Catholic Charities) is trying to blame him — like it was his idea to do it this way," Wetzel said. "He says they (Catholic Charities) wanted it done that way.
"It's important to note that several of (the directors) went along with it, and while it was happening, they were not informing employees of what was going on, even as they were asking."
Catholic Charities issued this statement:
"We deeply regret following his recommendations and selecting him for the training. He clearly misrepresented himself and his qualifications. He did not follow the agreed-upon procedures for the training, mishandled its implementation and did not complete the pre-training communication with Omaha police and 911 dispatchers."
Douglas County Attorney, Don Kleine said that investigators are still digging into the planning of the drill. He said he isn't surprised to hear of blame passing between Channels and Catholic Charities.
"I'm sure — like in any case, there's going to be finger-pointing," Kleine said. "Mr. Channels is responsible for his own actions. And his own actions caused the terrorizing event."
On a related note, Channels was arrested later on separate charges of child pornography and sexual assault of a minor.
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