Florida School Shooting: Flick Of Alarm Leads To Lifeless Bodies In Hallways Despite 'Active Shooter' Drills

Roz Zurko

When the shooting started at Parkland's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, both students and teachers went into a mode they were prepared for after extensive training. They were told to lock the classroom door and shelter in place if the sounds of gunfire echoed in the hallways.

That is just what the students and teachers did inside that school. They hunkered down and were ready to wait for the law enforcement members to reach their classroom. That is until something else happened; the fire alarm rang.

As USA Today reports, after all the directions passed along in the various training that covered the many different crisis situations that could happen inside a school, a simple fire alarm tossed all that preparation to the wayside. Broward County school board member Donna Korn explained that the faculty, administration, and students, have undergone various levels of "active shooter training."

It appears that the accused shooter, Nicolas Cruz, who was a former student of that school, was very familiar with that training as well. The results of that training played out as soon as the sounds of gunshots were heard coming from the hallways of the school. USA Today suggests that Cruz "appears to have rendered that preparation moot with a flick of a fire alarm."

"We've got the people prepared, we have prepared the campuses, but sometimes people still find a way to let these horrific things happen." The pulling of the fire alarm was not unique to this shooting.

The executive director of Safe Havens, which is a non-profit organization that consults schools about campus safety issues, pointed out that Parkland was not the only school where a fire alarm was pulled during a shooting. It was the fifth school shooting in which the "fire alarm was triggered."

It was back in 1998 when the Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Arkansas, was the scene of a school shooting. What authorities learned from this incident has helped them develop safeguards after a fire alarm was pulled by two boys who were 13 and 11 and they shot at their classmates as they came out of the school. This incident left one teacher and four students dead and 10 0thers wounded.

These tips below for preparing for such attacks at schools are quoted from Dorn:

Kids need to assess the situation in case the attacker does something unexpected, which happened in this case with the alarm.

The lifeless bodies of students on the floor of the school's hallways became a shocking reminder of what the students had just gone through. The students got their first look at the carnage when it finally came time to leave with their law enforcement rescuers. The triggering of that fire alarm allowed the shooter to bypass the "shelter in place" defense of the students.

According to the New York Post, there was another piece to triggering the fire alarm that benefitted the shooter. The alarm caused chaos in an already strained environment, where the students had just heard gunshots. That chaos allowed Cruz to shed his gun and scramble to the school exit along with the other students making their escape. He got away, but he was captured and arrested shortly after the shooting.