The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

December 14, 2012

EPD: First response would be to take out shooter

By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Enid police could be at the scene of a shooting within five minutes, and their primary focus would be to eliminate the shooter, said a 19-year veteran of the police department.

“The majority, almost all of our officers, have attended active shooter training,” Lt. Mark Blodgett said. “We respond, we go to the threat, and we take out the threat.”

According to reports by The Associated Press, a man entered an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., Friday morning and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 18 children. The gunman also is dead.

Blodgett was not surprised to hear the shooter was dead.

“In easier terms, we go in and we take out the bad guy,” Blodgett said. “It sounds tough, it sounds brutal — you might have to run past a victim but you’ve got to stop them.”

Blodgett said no one should assume something similar “could never happen” in their own town. History of school shootings shows there often have been warnings before shooters strike, he said.

“If anybody hears rumors or suspects somebody might be capable of that, they need to let law enforcement know immediately,” Blodgett said.

Even students should be aware, Blodgett said.

“If you think someone might do that, go ahead and let police, parents or someone in authority know,” Blodgett said. “Pass that information on.”

Even before the Connecticut incident, Enid Police Department detectives were investigating rumors of a possible act of violence to occur next week at Enid High School.

Those rumors appear related to “end of the world” Mayan calendar fears, said both Blodgett and Amber Fitzgerald, spokeswoman for Enid Public Schools.

“EHS administrators learned of non-specific rumors this week that an incident might occur at school on Dec. 21 because it is the ‘end of the world,’ according to the Mayan calendar,” Fitzgerald said. “We have no information that the rumors are credible; however, we are working with local law enforcement agencies to continue to investigate. Nothing is more important than the safety of our students and staff, and so every situation is taken seriously. We appreciate the cooperation of EHS students and families.”

As for the alleged threats at Enid, Blodgett agreed those do not appear credible.

“I think it was a comment in a discussion taken out of context, and it got twisted into an ‘actual threat’ as it was passed from person to person,” Blodgett said.

“Safety is our No. 1 priority,” Fitzgerald said. “We work with local law enforcement officials on a regular basis to prepare for emergency situations. What happened today in Connecticut is heartbreaking, and our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those affected by the tragedy.”

Leigh Kirby, psychology instructor at Northwestern Oklahoma State University and a licensed counselor for several years in Texas, said parents should be open to discuss the Connecticut event with their children.

“The biggest thing is to listen to your children,” Kirby said. “Don’t pacify what’s going on by ignoring the event.”

Children might have questions about things they hear, Kirby said.

“Try to answer questions,” Kirby said. “If you do not feel comfortable answering questions, find a counselor or spiritual leader to answer questions.”

Kirby noted Enid has many churches staffed with people who can be of assistance in helping children understand and deal with the news of the school shooting in Connecticut.

However, Kirby said parents should guard against allowing children to obsess over the news. Children watching news reports about the shooting over and over again is not likely to be healthy, she said.

“The children are going to want to know why, and there’s not a ‘why’ to this situation,” Kirby said. “This is a horrible, horrible event.”

Kirby recommended parents be ready with some suggestions if their children want to know what they might do for families whose children have been killed.

“If children ask what they can do for those families, tell them prayers, and they could possibly do something thoughtful, like perhaps draw a picture for these kids,” Kirby said.