Active shooter drill intended to improve school lockdown response

HANCOCK — A hard lockdown drill was conducted Friday at the middle and high schools, with police from Hancock, Houghton County and Michigan State Police participating.

Principal Ezekiel Ohan said the drill’s purpose was to expose weak points in procedure, personnel training and building security, so in the event of an actual shooter event, the school will be more efficient in a response.

In a meeting before the drill, Ohan asked officers to pound loudly on classroom doors and identify themselves as law enforcement officers.

“What I want to see is where our weak spots are,” he explained. “So, today won’t be engaging in a dog and pony (show).”

Hancock Police Chief Wayne Butler told Ohan how he and his officers gained entrance to the facility when they arrived.

“This is a learning experience,” Butler said, “not to get anybody into trouble, but we entered the building through an open door in the cafeteria, which we could visibly see was open as we drove into the parking lot.”

Butler said they were in the kitchen area a few moments before they were spotted by kitchen staff.

“If I was an active shooter,” he told them, “you’d probably be dead right now, and I’d be in the open area with the kids.”

To add to the confusion and realism of the drill, a few minutes after the lockdown drill was activated, the fire alarm was also triggered, and a number of students were assigned to roles as hostages. They were instructed to pound loudly on classroom doors they knew students occupied, yelling that student’s name and adding, “Let me in.”

Meanwhile, law enforcement officers fanned out through the hallways, while Ohan and Superintendent Kip Beaudoin conducted sweeps of the bathrooms.

Gabrielle Mukavetz, one of the students assigned to participate in the drill, said it was a good practice to have.

“I think it was smart to have the students go around to knock on all the doors,” she said, “because it could be like that in an actual scenario. Who knows if a person or gunman, or whoever, was holding a student hostage for bait to get in?”