The Lonoke School District and Lonoke Police Department conducted an “active shooter” drill inside the Lonoke High School building Monday morning.
At 9:07 a.m., a “call” was made from the LHS office to emergency officials saying there were shots fired in the building.
A sweep of both floors of the high school building found two “suspects.” The all clear signal was given less than 10 minutes after the initial “call” was made.
Lonoke Police Lieutenant Randy Mauk led the team into the building on the bottom floor.
Mauk said the department has an entry team that is not just for the schools.
“As you can tell on the news, this is happening in malls and restaurants but we want to be prepared in whatever scenario it is,” Mauk said after the drill. “We want to prepare for the worse-case scenario.”
Mauk said the department has been practicing the past few months for something like this.
“This right here is just a small dose which just involved a drill only … it didn’t involve any outside elements,” Mauk said. “The next phase will be to get state, county, fire — all agencies into one catastrophe drill.”
Mauk said they would have to set up a medical area and a place for “stragglers” in the area.
“That is something that will be a combined effort between the school and other outside agencies,” Mauk said. “That is what we’re really gearing up for. The first couple of phases are so that my officers can learn the layout of the schools.”
Mauk said the police aren’t just focusing on the high school.
“We’re also focusing on every school we have here in Lonoke,” he said. “It’s important. We need to know the layout. Time is of the essence when it comes to these matters. We’ve got to better prepare ourselves.”
Mauk said it’s almost every day that there is news of a shooting in a school, mall or stores.
He said the department and the schools want to be prepared in case something like that happens in Lonoke.
Lonoke Fire Chief Jimmy Wallace was observing the drill. His department would be vital in securing the area around the schools by blocking streets.
“And try to keep traffic out as much as possible so we could get the threat neutralized,” Wallace said. “From there, we’d decide how to evacuate and get the kids out of the buildings.”
Wallace said in the event something like an invasion happened at any of the schools, the remainder of the school buildings would go into lockdown.
Lonoke School District safety coordinator Pat Matarazzo said Monday’s drill helps ensure the school staff knows what to do in the event of a shooter entering the building. It also helps the students know what to expect, he said.
“They can understand kind of what is going to take place and so that they won’t freak out when something takes place that they aren’t aware of,” Matarazzo said. “This is supposed to be as close to an active shooter being in the building as possible.”
Matarazzo said the district and the police will evaluate how the drill went and tweak things for the other schools in the district, including the primary, elementary and middle schools, along with the Carver Campus.
“What might work here might not work on a different campus,” he said. “We need to know what the procedures on each campuses so that law enforcement can be comfortable in what they need to do and so that the staff on those campuses can be comfortable.”