This is a fictional story I originally wrote in January of 2013, a couple of weeks after the Sandy Hook shootings where 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children and 6 adults. This treatment attempts to show how the outcome could have been very different – if teachers had been armed. Since I just posted a new article describing how some 40 school districts in Ohio have chosen to arm their teachers, I thought that this might be an appropriate time to reprise this fictional version of an attempted school shooting – but with a happier ending. Garnet92.
It began when a young man carrying a package requested entry at the LaPierre Elementary School’s main entrance door at 9:15 am.
District policy required the school’s doors to be opened at 8:15 am to admit students and locked at 9:00 am. The doors remained locked during the school day until opened again at 3:15 when classes were dismissed. Admittance between 9 o’clock and 3:15 had to be authorized by office personnel.
The school had a CCTV camera mounted above the entrance along with an intercom system to allow communication between someone requesting admittance and the school’s staff.
The young man claimed to be the older brother of a student and said he needed to give her the package. He gave his name as “Alex Feinstein” and the name of his sister as “Dianne.” A quick check of records revealed that while Dianne was indeed a fourth-grade student there, she didn’t have a brother named Alex. The staff member alerted the principal.
When they began to question the young man further, he became increasingly angry and finally tore off the brown paper wrapping, revealed a sinister-looking rifle. He shot the glass door several times and it quickly disintegrated into hundreds of glass shards. He stepped through the doorway and into the main hallway.
A shooter was now in the LaPierre Elementary School.
Passing the administrative offices, he fired off another three rounds into the office windows. He didn’t really aim at anyone, he just wanted to scare and intimidate them and show them that he was now in charge. He continued into the main hallway.
Although momentarily caught off guard by the man’s assault on the door and the office, Principal Charlene Heston quickly regained her composure and went to the office wall safe. Pressing her thumb on the biometric reader, the door swung open and she pressed the alarm button. The klaxon began its incessant alarm – every two seconds, another raspy squawk.
Immediately after sounding the alarm, Principal Heston retrieved her Glock 19 pistol from the safe. Now, she too was armed. Her administrative assistant called 911 and told the operator that an armed intruder had shot out the school’s main exterior door, entered the school, and fired into the office. She could see him on the hallway surveillance camera.
The klaxon startled everyone at the school – teachers and students alike. The noise could be heard a block away, even alarming the school’s neighbors. Several more 911 calls were placed and they were told that the police had already been dispatched.
The office staff could see the shooter on the CCTV monitor as he approached the first classroom door.
While still monitoring the shooter’s location on the CCTV, Principal Heston announced over the school’s intercom system that there was a lockdown in effect, that it was not a drill, and that there was a “red package” in the main hallway approaching room 100.
The code words “red package” meant that there was an armed shooter in the main hallway and “approaching room 100” let everyone know exactly where he was.
Now all of the teachers and staff knew what Principal Heston already knew …
LaPierre Elementary had a very big problem.
The Sandy Hook killings were still fresh in everyone’s memory and the thought of something similar happening at LaPierre was enough to chill one’s blood.
Since the Sandy Hook incident, security in the Wayne Independent School District was upgraded to prevent a similar tragic incident. Parents, teachers, and principals came together with security consultants to develop plans to make the schools safer while keeping any new components as unobtrusive as possible. No one wanted to create an atmosphere of fear or apprehension in the minds of the children.
In a perfect world, there would be no need to weigh safety against education, schools would provide surroundings best suited to facilitate learning, yet remain insulated from violence.
But we don’t live in a perfect world.
By the time the principal’s announcement came, teachers were already locking their classroom doors and drawing a shade to cover the window. They turned off the classroom lights and calmed their students, reassuring them that they would be safe, and proceeded to carry out the school’s lockdown drill.
The teachers quickly assembled the children at the end of the classroom farthest from the door. Where a closet or coatroom was available, the kids were ushered inside. When a coatroom or closet wasn’t available, they instructed the students to sit on the floor facing away from the door. Several desks were moved to shield the group from sight and those teachers who were not part of the school’s “armed militia” joined the children on the floor.
After securing their students, four of the teachers immediately went to their in-wall safes. Like the principal, those teachers had volunteered to undergo training and secure a Concealed Handgun License (CHL). They were also individually authorized by local authorities to carry a handgun on school grounds.
A thumb on the biometric reader quickly opened the door and seconds later all four teachers had retrieved their handguns. They took up defensive positions as directed by the school’s security plan.
Not all classrooms were identical (there were several different layouts) and the security consultants had recommended specific defensive positions based on each classroom’s layout. The armed teachers were positioned to shoot (if necessary) from a location that provided the best visual assessment of anyone entering the classroom yet also yielded a sight picture that did not endanger the students. The location was also intended to draw attention away from the children.
Since the LaPierre School had outward-opening classroom doors (swinging into the hall), anyone entering the classroom would be framed by the door opening and not obscured by an open door.
Brute force entry was not likely to be successful since an outward-opening door is more resistant to forced entry from kicking or throwing weight against the door (from the outside). But if the assailant did breach the door, the violence was evidence enough that the individual was a dangerous aggressor and if he/she were armed, lethal force would be justified.
If an assailant attempted entry by shooting the door’s locking mechanism (not as easy as movies would have us believe), that act alone identified the entrant as an armed aggressor and once again, lethal force was justified.
The shooter tried the first classroom door, it was locked and he couldn’t see into the classroom. He moved on the next classroom, it was also locked. He tried a third – locked too. He crossed to the other side of the hall and tried another room. No entry there either.
Already highly stressed, the shooter became incensed at his failure to get into a classroom. He fired five rounds at the area of the lock of classroom 105.
He threw his weight against the door – it still wouldn’t open.
Even with the klaxon blaring, in the otherwise quiet and empty hallway, those five shots sounded like sonic booms. Each echoed up and down the long empty hall. Most of the building’s occupants heard each one.
In his current state of anger and frustration he decided to do what he should have done from the start – get the master keys from the principal or bring the principal along and force her to open the doors. As he turned to go back to the school’s administrative office, two more shots startled him – who else was shooting?
In her agitated state, Principal Heston had missed her first two shots, but didn’t miss her third. She hit the shooter in the upper left thigh with a 9mm hollow point. The impact shook him and he almost fell.
He was caught totally by surprise, he was unprepared for this; no one was supposed to shoot him.
She was partially concealed behind the door to the admin offices, but now he spotted her. As he raised the AK-47, he slumped again, almost falling. His left leg was rebelling. It didn’t take kindly to the damage done by the principal’s JHP bullet. He regained his balance and fired the AK twice in the direction of Principal Heston. He was so shaky, both missed.
The principal fired three more shots in quick succession. This time, using the door jamb to steady her aim, the results were better and two hit the gunman: one in his chest and the other in his right shoulder. This time he went down.
He was still moving, but he had dropped his weapon and was writhing on the floor, moaning and bleeding profusely. He didn’t appear to have any more fight left in him.
The principal held her position, her Glock still aimed at the gunman. She instructed her assistant to call Mrs. Brady in 108 and tell her that the shooter was down and ask her to carefully and slowly ease into the hall with her weapon ready to help cover the downed assailant until police arrived.
Shaking, but still vigilant, Charlene Heston finally began to relax a little. She told her assistant, Miss Pelosi, to turn off the alarm and announce that the school was secure, but that the lockdown was still in force. All doors must remain locked and no one should leave their classrooms.
The announcement freed the teachers to comfort the children, assuring them that they were all safe.
The lockdown would remain in place until the police arrived and secured the premises. They would issue an official “all clear,” only then would the lockdown status be lifted.
After several minutes of a continuously blaring klaxon and the sounds of a firefight echoing through the school’s main hallway, the silence was a welcome change.
It was 9:22 and the kids were safe; no one had been injured (except the bad guy).
Less than seven minutes had elapsed since the gunman first rang the entry buzzer. Seven minutes that could have turned out very different.
The good woman with a gun stopped the bad guy with a gun – fancy that.
In this fictional story, I’ve tried to paint a picture that represents what could happen if teachers were allowed to voluntarily possess a handgun on a school campus.
I’ve tried to depict a more or less realistic scenario, but I acknowledge that some will find fault with parts of the story. The narrative is as realistic as I could make it – I even clocked the time it would have taken for each of the actions, so the seven minutes is fairly accurate. But, it may not be perfect and some will pose questions.
Where’d the shooter get the AK? Does it matter? If he’d been successful in gaining entry to a classroom full of children, would they have been any less dead or injured if the weapon was legally obtained rather than stolen or bought on the black market?
Principal Heston fired six shots and missed three times, is she really qualified to carry a handgun? Frankly, though I’m a pretty good shot, I doubt that I could have done any better under stress and given the circumstances – nor could most police.
The shooter couldn’t hit anything except doors and windows. The only time he fired directly at anyone was when attempting to fire back at the principal and his shaky left leg and stress at being hit contributed to his errant shots. In a classroom with the children concentrated in a small area, he would certainly have scored more hits. We should be thankful that he never had the chance. Additionally, most information I’ve read describes typical criminals as notoriously poor shots. Is it any wonder the way that “gangstas” hold their pistols?
If one of the classrooms that he tried had been unlocked, the outcome would have been different. That’s true. If the unfortunate classroom was one with an unarmed teacher, it could have been another Sandy Hook. Who would have stopped him?
If the teacher had been armed, the result could more closely parallel the one described in the story. I feel confident that an armed teacher would fire on an intruder with a gun coming into his/her classroom apparently intent on harming the children.
An armed guard could have brought the incident to a quick resolution. Maybe, maybe not. That would depend on the individual, his/her training, commitment, and most importantly, where he/she was when the episode began. If the guard was “on rounds” and distant when the alarm sounded, it could have taken minutes for the guard to arrive and confront the shooter.
What if the shooter had other weapons on his person, and what about any “high-capacity” magazines he might have had? Did that matter? Let’s say that he was found to have a Beretta 92 9 mm pistol with two additional 15 round magazines, as well as two loaded 30 round standard AK magazines in his pockets. When he attempted admittance at the main entrance, he would have been carrying 135 rounds of potentially lethal ammunition.
Suppose none of the magazines were “high capacity” magazines, i.e., all of the magazines were limited to 10 rounds (including the AK)? In that case, he would have had to carry additional 10-round magazines. How many? How many kids did he want to kill?
In Adam Lanza’s case, in addition to the ones in the guns, he could have easily carried seven additional magazines for his Glock 10mm and seven more for the Sig 9mm pistols. Each of those magazines only loaded with 10 rounds (they’re each capable of holding 15) still amounts to a total of 160 rounds. Even an average shooter can fire 10 rounds in 5 seconds and change a magazine in another 5 seconds – you do the math. He didn’t need the Bushmaster “assault” weapon to do his dirty work.
There are undoubtedly scores of other good questions or statements relating to the actions I’ve described, feel free to add them via comments.
This is an important topic – a topic touching on the safety of our children as well as the right to defend ourselves if confronted by one of the “bad guys.”.
It needs to be discussed logically and realistically. A “knee jerk” enactment of yet more laws affecting only law-abiding citizens will not solve the problem. If a deranged person is willing to ignore laws against murder, what on earth makes anyone believe that he or she will observe any other law? It is ludicrous to think so.
Why not make murder illegal? Or prohibit mentally deranged people from possessing guns? Let’s make forced entry against the law, and let’s prohibit carrying guns in “gun safe” zones? Surely those laws would prevent bad things (like Sandy Hook) from happening.
Oh wait … nevermind …
Wake up gun-control people – law-abiding citizens are not the problem – law breakers are.
Somewhere, at this moment, someone may be planning a similar attack; intent on acting out some deranged script. How or why they are so out-of-kilter escapes sane people who try to make some sense, find some reason, to understand why anyone would want to do something as loathsome as attacking our children.
If we are unwilling to actively defend our children, we are, in fact, leaving them defenseless.
As I said in the preface to the story, you’re welcome to add any comments, ask any questions, or offer a rebuttal as to why you may believe that this depiction is not reasonable. I stand by it and believe it with all my heart.