At 7:55 a.m. Wednesday, dispatch reports: “suspicious subject at National Guard, units respond.” Shortly after, gunfire erupts from within the Office of the Adjunct General building on the National Guard base as two armed assailants take over the building.
Alarm lights flashed. “Attention active shooter, stay calm, follow emergency procedure” rang out throughout the building. Two men armed with M4 rifles shot 15-20 people leaving a wave of casualties in their wake. Ten minutes later Carson City SWAT entered the building and took down both assailants, with medics arriving four minutes later to treat the wounded.
No real threat was at the National Guard Wednesday, it was the Carson City law enforcement training for what to do in a mass shooting.
To practice, the Carson City Sheriff’s Office, Carson City Fire Department and the National Guard partnered together to simulate what to do if there were two armed assailants in the National Guard building.
The story was two disgruntled National Guard employees, played by Deputies Brian Mays and Arik Sitton, decided to shoot up the base. The simulation was as real as safely possible. Both assailants’ weapons were specially equipped and triple checked to be outfitted with adaptors that allowed them to shoot blank .223 ammunition rounds that looked and sounded like real gunshots but without injury. The SWAT team was equipped with a MP5 SD5 — a 9mm sub machine gun — as well as with M4 rifles.
These trainings help law enforcement so they can be prepared for situations like this and so all involved know what to do in an active shooter event such as this. It was also used to help employees in the National Guard building know what to do to keep themselves safe and calm if this were to happen in this location.
“The focus is to teach the complex what to do if this were to happen,” said Provost Marshal Robert Kovet. “It is also to improve and establish a relationship with the Sheriff’s Office so that they are familiar with our building design so they know the basic design for if this were to happen.”
The first responders went through several scenarios.
In some instances the shooters were “killed” and others they were apprehended. National Guard workers were given play cards that indicated the type of injury or fatality so the fire department could have a chance to work with the officers to safely remove injured people from the building.
The point of the exercises is so SWAT can enter a building much quicker and take out the gunmen a lot faster, so police don’t end up standing on the sidelines and taking 53 minutes to enter a building like what happened in Columbine, Colo., school shooting, said Carson City Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Dan Gomes.
“There is really no way to prepare the guys outside of trainings like this, so we just do the best that we can,” Gomes said.
According to Kovet, a typical active assailant incident will take about 10 minutes, however it can take up to six hours or more to officially clear a building after. This training had been planned for about three months, but it has become apparent how important this training is with the recent Tennessee shooting in which four Marines and Sailor were killed.
“This training was an eye opener,” said Carson City deputy Brett Bindley. “It is just utter chaos going through it, but we do it to learn because this can happen anywhere.”