Children terrified by janitor wearing mask, carrying fake gun in active shooter drill at Calif. school

RAISIN CITY, Calif. (KGPE/KSEE/CNN) – A school superintendent in Central California is offering no apologies, despite complaints that the live shooter drill he held at his school, in which he had a janitor wear a mask and carry a fake gun, was too realistic.

Some teachers and parents of students, who had no idea the drill would happen, said it went too far.

Some said the drill could end up traumatizing children, but the superintendent said he’s trying to save lives.

Kim Cooper, a fifth-grade teacher at Raisin City School, said in her 22-year career as a teacher she had never gone through anything like the drill, which happened just before the summer break.

"I love these students, and I don't know what I can do,” she said. “I think, ‘Wow, am I going to go down like this, out at Raisin City School?’"

Cooper said she and her students tried to stay quiet and gathered together in a corner of a classroom during the drill.

"All of a sudden someone came pounding on the door, ‘boom, boom, boom, boom,’ and trying to open it," she said.

Cooper said the kids inside were terrified.

"I had one boy, he was trying to be very quiet about it, but he was sobbing,” she said. “You can imagine, I was upset, and I'm a 48-year-old adult. But there in the back of my mind, I don't know that it's a drill. I think, ‘My goodness, this could really be happening.’"

It wasn’t real, but was dressing a janitor with a mask and having him hold a fake gun and bang on the doors and windows with kids inside going too far?

"No, I don't think it was wrong,” said Raisin City School Superintendent Juan Sandoval. “It was a drill, not training. Because usually these drills become routine to students, and we wanted to make sure that this was realistic."

Sandoval said after the drill, all teachers shared a video with the students to be better prepared, but he admitted the teachers and students were told nothing before it happened.

He said he wanted to see how his staff would react as a team.

Sandoval added that he’s never heard a single complaint, and the drill helped him identify issues that needed to be fixed.

The Raisin City School Board said the district plans to update its procedures for active shooter training, and will coordinate that training with local law enforcement.

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