REDLANDS - Sounds of gunfire and screams for help were heard at the University of Redlands.
A team of police officers, with their guns drawn cautiously, entered Ted Runner Stadium May 30 in search of a shooter and a hostage during a simulation of an "active shooter" on campus.
"I am going to kill her," the shooter yelled as he dragged his screaming hostage beneath the stadium.
Four officers took cover at the east end of the stadium and searched for the now hidden suspect and hostage.
The realistic simulation was part of active shooter training for Redlands Police Department, a day of training scenarios that prepared officers to respond to a situation in which a shooter is at large on a campus.
"They try to keep it as realistic as possible," said Carl Baker, spokesman for the Redlands Police Department.
Thirty police officers, dispatchers and police Explorers spent the day on the university campus responding to scenarios in the stadium and in a classroom and dormitory. The event was the first time active shooter training was done on the university campus.
Dan Orrell, owner of Evolution Sports in Redlands, donated "airsoft" guns to be used for the training. Orrell also volunteered as the active shooter. During each training session, instructors talked to Orrell and the Explorers, who were in the roles of gunshot victims in the training. As they took their places, calls were made to dispatchers who then alerted police officers to the shootings. Officers then responded in teams of four to the sites of the shootings.
The officers responded as they would have during an actual shooting.
The scenarios mirrored those of the April 16 shooting on the campus of Virginia Tech. The massacre left 32 people, plus shooter Seung-Hui Cho, who committed suicide, dead.
"This is a natural outgrowth of that," Redlands Police Capt. Tom Fitzmaurice said.
Lt. Dan Shefchik, the University of Redlands' director of public safety, said the reality was that such a shooting could happen at the Redlands campus. Shefchik, who is a lieutenant with the Redlands Police Department, said the college campus was made available to the Police Department for training purposes a few days before the training because classes were no longer in session and there were few people on campus to get in the way of the training, he said. The Police Department has had similar training sessions at Redlands High School. Other types of police training have been at the university.
The training gave the officers a chance to learn the basic orientation of buildings on the campus. Shefchik led officers around the campus and pointed out the various buildings.
"They are getting a walking tour of the campus so they know the unique aspects if they have to respond here," Fitzmaurice said.
There were few people on the campus during the training as three police officer instructors from within the department discussed the officers' responses to the situations. The department has had a safe school plan that was put into place during the late 1990s, and worked with the Redlands Unified School District to come up with a joint plan.
All the officers get a taste of safe schools classroom training, Fitzmaurice said. Annually, all of the officers get active shooter training.
The active shooter training combined those aspects and focused on getting officers "prepared to address active shooters immediately."
"You have to change the culture to be able to have a group of officers respond without waiting for assistance from specialized teams," Fitzmaurice said.
To prepare for that, even patrol officers now have equipment that was once traditional for only specialized teams such as ballistic helmets, long guns, military-like rifles and smaller assault rifles.
"They have to be confident and trust their equipment," Fitzmaurice said.
Sgt. Shawn Ryan, one of instructors, said the training was much more realistic for the officers than having to shoot at a paper target.
"You get more realistic scenarios with chaos and people yelling and you have to make split second decisions," he said. "It's a lot more realistic than our normal training."