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Gunfire used in Cary school lockdown drill

The sound of simulated gunfire was heard this morning at Cary-Grove High School. It was part of a very realistic preparedness drill.

Police fired blanks out of a starter pistol so that students and staff could hear what gunshots sound like.

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The sound of simulated gunfire was heard this morning at Cary-Grove High School.  It was part of a very realistic preparedness drill.

The use of a starter pistol firing a blank sparked some degree of controversy in the far northwest suburban community.  But police and school administrators wanted to give students the opportunity to hear what a real gunshot might sound like.

“There are many students and staff who may have never heard a gunshot before,” Cary Police Chief Steven Casstevens told WGN.  “And so maybe in the future, if a real incident were to happen, rather than somebody saying, ‘Hey, I wonder what that sound was?’ somebody might say, “That sounds like gunshot.’  And they know what they’re supposed to do.”

The “Code Red” emergency drill was carefully choreographed, starting just after 9 a.m. and only lasting about 15 minutes.  Students and teachers were ordered by public address announcement to proceed to their classrooms and secure the door.

Police and administrators checked the halls to make sure that all the students were out of the way and in the classrooms, and a second announcement was made notifying them that a starter pistol with blanks would be fired in the hallway common area.  A second blank was fired by administrators at another location in the school.

The emergency drill comes in the wake of the Connecticut school shootings and a host of other gun attacks across the country.  Cary police say preparing for such emergencies is an unfortunate reality of modern life.

Students who spoke with WGN say the drill went smoothly, and they understand why it was important to fire a real starter pistol.

Responding to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut, a northwest suburban Illinois school is planning a very realistic preparedness drill.

Gunfire will be part of a school drill Wednesday in the north Chicago suburb of Cary.

Cary police will use blanks so students at Cary Grove High School will hear what a gun shot sounds like.

The school will be on a simulated lockdown for 20 minutes Wednesday.

Senior Colin Olsen is ready for the “Code Red” drill.

“Supposedly the teachers do it on institute day.  They’re all ready. We’ve just never done a drill like this,” he said.

It’s the first time District 155 will use the gun fire during this type of drill during school hours. Once all students are locked inside of their classrooms, an announcement will be made.

“They will describe that there will be simulated gunfire in order to help our staff and students understand what gunfire would sound like coming for another part of the building so that if that active scenario ever happens they can identify it as soon as possible,” said District Spokesperson Jeff Puma.

Reaction from parents is mixed, he says. Some are in favor of firing the blanks, others simply don’t understand why this drill, one that deals with a potential threat of gun violence, actually has to use a gun to make the point.

Social workers will be inside the school to talk with anyone who has problems after the drill.  A letter from Cary Grove’s principal encourages parents to talk with their students, about their feelings.