Two masked men wearing hoodies and wielding handguns burst into the Pine Eagle Charter School in this tiny rural community on Friday. Students were at home for an in-service day, so the gunmen headed into a meeting room full of teachers and opened fire.
Someone figured out in a few seconds that the bullets were not drawing blood because they were blanks and the exercise was a drill, designed to test Pine Eagle’s preparation for an assault by “active shooters” who were, in reality, members of the school staff. But those few seconds left everybody plenty scared.
Principal Cammie DeCastro said it became clear very quickly just how many of the school’s 15 teachers would have survived. The answer: “Not many,” she said.
Elementary teacher Morgan Gover, 31, said only two teachers would have lived to tell the tale. She admitted being scared, and also acknowledged she would have been among the casualties, having taken several fake direct hits from the shooters.
“I’ll tell you, the whole situation was horrible,” she said. “I got a couple in the front and a couple in the back.”
The surprised staff had received training from the Union County Sheriff’s Office on active shooter scenarios. They had been told they had some options, such as not rushing out of their classrooms when gunfire erupted, and locking and barricading their doors.
They weren’t expecting a drill like this, and they were caught by surprise when the two men entered and began firing.
“There was some commotion,” DeCastro said.
The goal of the drill was to learn how people would react, so better emergency plans could be made, she said.