Despite an emergency response plan at Red Lake, Mn., High School, teachers and students weren’t warned after Jeff Weise shot his way into the building last month, reports the St. Paul Pioneer Press. While the emergency plan calls for warnings to be broadcast over the school’s intercom, that warning never came, and officials aren’t sure why. Interviews with school officials and others indicated that initiative on the part of teachers – not the response plan –helped protect faculty and students. Within nine minutes of entering the school March 21, Weise had killed seven people and wounded seven others. After being wounded three times by a police officer, the 16-year-old killed himself.
“Hearing gunshots, you don’t evacuate, you lockdown. On the part of the teachers, that was fast action, and they saved lives,” said Carol Aenne, acting superintendent of the Red Lake Independent School District. Teachers locked themselves and their students in their classrooms, despite the sounding of the school’s fire alarm, which was a signal for them to evacuate. After Colorado’s Columbine school shootings in 1999, the Minnesota Legislature required school districts to draft emergency response and crisis-management plans. Aenne promised more emergency drills. “We’re going to ratchet up our drills so that it becomes second nature as far as responsibilities of the crisis-management team in each building,” she said.