Active shooter drill held at Sardis High School - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Active shooter drill held at Sardis High School

Source: Dixon Hayes/WBRC Source: Dixon Hayes/WBRC

Sarah Grace Battles knew something was coming Thursday. But the Sardis High School junior didn't know when or in what form.

Then, shots rang out.

"We heard a few gunshots and at first we weren't really sure if that's what it was. Then we heard one really close so we all kind of like, jumped over the desks, in the corner of the room, and we locked the doors, barricaded the doors until we turned all the lights off. So we've been staying in there for a long time until we waited for the all clear," Battles recalled.

Sardis High School hosted the third annual active shooter drill, jointly staged by the Etowah County Sheriff's Office and the county's board of education.

Each year, one of these takes place in an Etowah County school, on a regular school day when students are present.

"We want our students to be prepared, and certainly, if they've got some semblance of what would happen in an actual event like this, it will help them to know, you know, which way to go, what to do, and give them an idea," says Alan Cosby, the county's superintendent.

In this scenario, one shooter came in the front door and opened fire in the school office, wounding the principal and one other person, as a second shooter opened fire on several classrooms. Etowah County deputies and their SRT, and officers with the Sardis and Boaz Police Departments, cleared the hallways and several classrooms. Nearby firefighters were on hand as actual students simulated being wounded.

Cosby brought all of the administrators from area schools to watch the exercise, but was especially concerned that students learn their part in this drill. They've been lectured for weeks about "run, hide and fight," as a way to respond to active shooters.

All of this unfolded as the American flag continued to fly at half-staff at the school for those killed and wounded at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas Sunday night. Some 59 people were killed and more than 500 wounded in the worst mass shooting in American history.

Chief Deputy Michael Barton says the exercise was six weeks in planning, and that there was some discussion about calling off or postponing the drill as a result of that shooting. Ultimately, they decided to continue.

"We did discuss, early Monday morning, was it appropriate to continue with the planned exercise. And I think the consensus across the board was, it is. What more appropriate time to have an active shooter exercise than right after one," Barton said. "With the events of Vegas happening so recent, it puts a whole other element on it, in that our mindset changes to, this just happened a couple of days ago, in our country."

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