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July 4, 2013

Preparing for the worst Mock drill gives lesson in response to school shooting scenerio

Cindy Ward


Law enforcement officers from Indiana State Police and Versailles Police Department took part in a mock shooter situation at South Ripley High School. to help prepare school officials on what to do when faced with an active shooter. Here, officers walk past a "victim" on the floor of the library in search of the shooter to stop the threat.

It's just a normal Thursday at school for students and personnel. Kids are bumping into each other in the hallway trying to make it to their lockers to gather the appropriate materials and make it to their next class on time. Following the bell, teachers begin teaching the days' lessons in their various subjects. Office personnel are busy with paperwork and other duties that keep the school running smoothly.

Suddenly, a man comes into the building and starts pounding on the door to the office while demanding his son. Office personnel recognize the man as Johnny's father and he is let into the office. Unbeknownst to school personnel, Johnny's dad is carrying a gun and has every intention of using it.

The dad begins yelling at office personnel wanting to know where his son is. Office personnel try to calm him, but it's no use. He starts firing the weapon, shooting them both before heading down the hallway going into various classrooms, all the while yelling for his son.

"Johnny, where are you? Your mom told me she wants a divorce. If I can't have you, she can't have you either!" the man yelled as he entered door-after-door scouring each room for his son and firing off rounds. He walks into the library where two people are reading. One throws a book at the intruder and runs down the hallway. The other is shot and lays on the floor crying for help.

Police come through with weapons drawn and pass by the injured as they work to subdue the shooter and keep him from causing harm to more people than he already has. To those in the school enduring the terror, minutes seem like hours; however, all of this went down in less than 10 minutes.

This was the scene at South Ripley High School on Thursday, June 27, as Indiana State Police from the Versailles post presented "Unarmed Response to Active Shooter Training" to school personnel, public safety personnel, the media and others. The training is the result of many months of preparation by ISP in cooperation with the Indiana Department of Education to provide training for school administrators on the proper response to an active shooter.

The ISP has been selected as the lead agency in coordinating active shooter training with local school corporations throughout the state. Indiana State Police Superintendent Douglas Carter, with backing from Governor Mike Pence, initiated the program. Their highest priority is to ensure that every effort is made to provide the safest possible environment for all children in the State of Indiana.

The DOE launched this coordinated effort early on to create and implement a statewide training program to involve all parties responsible for the care and safety of our children. The program has been in the developmental stages since before the Sandy Hook school shooting and is known as the "Safe Schools/Active Shooter" program. Dr. Richard Hogue with the DOE has been assigned as a liason with the ISP to assist in this endeavor.

"We've been pushing out the initiative to schools for several months now and we're continuing to make school safety a priority in Indiana," said Hogue. "We're really excited about the fact that we're building a partnership among school people, Indiana State Police and local law enforcement. We really want to emphasize that. These programs develop that partnership and create a plan that can be implemented to keep kids safe in Indiana. And, I think that's the message we're really trying to get out there. A plan is only as good as your ability to implement it."

The program's purpose is to educate school personnel to properly respond in an active shooter situation, how law enforcement responds in active shooter situations, and what school personnel can do to minimize injury and death in an active shooter situation.

The training consisted of a power point presentation by ISP Troopers Clifton Elston and Jeff Cumberworth. Elston and Cumberworth spent an hour talking about prevention, detection and reaction in an active shooter situation. They discussed characteristics of someone about to initiate a mass shooting. The person may have increased absenteeism, poor appearance, depression/withdrawal, be moody or suicidal, among others. They stressed it's critical to recognize the indicators.

They also talked about personnel's role in preventing an incident and phases of an active shooter. Phases include fantasy, planning, preparation, approach and implementation. Cumberworth said that many planning a shooting like this think about it, but most don't make it through to the final stage without someone finding out about it.

The mock shooting scenario included a shooter and troopers using blank ammunition in actual firearms. The scenario was designed to give administrators a feel of what it might be like during an actual active shooter situation. The shooter methodically walks the hallways shooting random "victims" for several minutes before the first police officers arrive on the scene. Officers then navigate the school in search of the shooter. While this is going on, a trooper narrates the situation and keeps attendees informed of minutes passed before officers are able to confront the shooter and eliminate the threat.

Ripley County Sheriff Tom Grills shared some of his expertise with several area school superintendents who attended the training. "I tell companies to get with fire companies, local EMS and the media right off the bat and get staging areas set up so that the day of the incident, you're not saying where are we going to put the media and where is EMS going to stay and where are the fire department trucks going to go? That all needs to be pre-planned and set in place so that you know when it goes down, this is where everybody goes and all you have to worry about is that situation," said Grills.

South Ripley School Superintendent Rob Moorhead was expressed gratitude to the ISP for their eye-opening presentation. "I'm pleased that the police who operate in Ripley County and this end of Southeast Indiana are learning from situations that happened in Connecticut and Colorado and they're taking a very wide view to get as much information as they can to help us locally keep our schools safe. I think that's very important," Moorhead said.

Those interested in having a Safe School/Active Shooter presentation done at their school or would like more information about the program, should call the public information officer at their local Indiana State Police Post or visit http://www.in.gov/isp/2365.htm and click on the appropriate county.

14 compete for Ripley County Queen

Mary Mattingly


Pictured, back row, left: 2013 State Fair Queen Mariah Huff with 2013 local contestants Laura Detmer, Brooke Hartman, Isabella Gramaglia, Rachael Bush, Brenna Sarringhaus, Tapanga Gauck and Miss Ripley County 2012 Michaela Grunkemeyer; front row, left: Kendra Franklin, Kaitlyn Miller, Taylor DeWitt, Kiersten Abel, Kristen Bailey, Erin Moll and Courtney Smith. Not pictured: Katelyn Huffman.

There are 14 contestants this year for the Ripley County Queen pageant. Becky Harmeyer, one of the organizers of the event, told The Versailles Republican she's glad she's not a judge. "We can always tell the front runners, but this year, all 14 are 'wow!" It would be awful to be the judge!"

The annual pageant will be held at the Osgood Damm Theater on Sunday, July 14 at 6:30 p.m. Last year's county queen, Michaela Grunkemeyer , will crown the new queen. The winner and court will reign over the county fair July 21-27.

The young women have met several times in preparation for the pageant. One of the highlights of the event is the Queen's Tea and slumber party, held this year at Harmeyer's home on June 14. Mock interviews were then held June 26 at the Osgood Town Hall. The contestants got a chance to sharpen their interviewing skills and prepare for a question that will be presented to each the night of the pageant. Contestants are judged on professional wear, formal wear and on personal interview. State Fair queen Mariah Huff attended and emphasized to the contestants to "clean up their facebook pages" because future employers, even judges may view those.

Here is a brief bio of the 14 contestants.

Kiersten Abel, Osgood

She is the daughter of Tricia White and David Abel. Kiersten will be a senior this fall at Jac-Cen-Del High School.

Activities: Softball, Four-wheeling and fishing

Sponsor(s): White Farms

Kristen Bailey, Versailles

She is the daughter of Jason and Katie Bailey and will be a senior at South Ripley High School.

Activities: Fishing, bonfires, hanging out with friends and going to church.

Sponsors: Luke and Kayleigh Prather, Lawn Care and Moore Maintenance and Jason and Katie Bailey

Rachael Bush, Cross Plains

She is the daughter of Mike and Patty Bush. Rachael will be a senior this fall at South Ripley High School.

Activities: Reading, dancing, volleyball, basketball and twirling.

Laura Detmer, Osgood

She is the daughter of Jeffrey and Sandra Detmer. She will be a senior at Jac- Cen- Del High School

Activities: Volleyball, horseback riding, quad riding, skeet shooting, swimming, hanging out with friends and spending time with family.

Sponsor: Trackside Pizza

Taylor DeWitt, Versailles

Taylor is the daughter of Angie Tinker and Gary DeWitt and she will be a freshman at Ivy Tech Community College.

Activities: Playing and coaching softball, babysitting and spending time with friends and family.

Sponsor: Odyssey Full Service Salon

Kendra Franklin, Holton

Kendra is the daughter of Mark and Carla Franklin and will be a junior at South Ripley High School.

Activities: Singing, dancing, helping people, school, cross country, track and field, and spending time with friends and family.

Sponsor: Nebraska Church of God

Tapanga Gauck, Milan

She is the daughter of Bart and Tammy Gauck. Tapanga will be a junior at Milan High School

Activities: Reading, basketball, tennis, drill team, singing and helping children.

Sponsor(s): T& T Tire Removal

Isabella Gramaglia,


Isabella is the daughter of Vince and Laurie Gramaglia, and she will be a junior at South Ripley High School

Activities: Cross Country, track, majorettes, band, watching South Ripley's basketball team, working at Dairy Queen in Versailles, scrapbooking, reading and writing.

Sponsor: Federmann and Sons Plumbing

Brooke Hartman, Sunman

Brooke is the daughter of Cindy and Joe Volk and Randy and Robin Hartman. She will be a senior at Batesville High School.

Activities: Photography, scrapbooking, running track, snow skiing, participating in school musicals and plays, baking and decorating desserts, hiking, traveling with family, singing, writing music, playing the piano, observing at local hospitals for the benefit of her future career and long walks on the beach.

Sponsor: Volk Enterprises

Katelyn Huffman, Milan

Katelyn is the daughter of Scott and Renee Huffman. She will be a freshman at Indiana State University.

Activities: Listening to music and hanging out with friends.

Sponsor:Huffman Fall Market

Katilyn Miller, Batesville

She is the daughter of Ceil and Jerry Miller. Katilyn will be a freshman at the University of Southern Indiana.

Activities: Very involved in 4-H, photography, horseback riding and barrel racing.

Sponsor: Heartwood Mfg.

Erin Moll, Batesville

She is the daughter of Jerry and Brenda Moll. Erin will be a sophomore at Franklin College.

Activities: Taking care of her animals at the family farm, spending time with her family and friends and helping others

Sponsor: Honey Suckle Farms

Brenna Sarringhaus,


Brenna is the daughter of Ann Lesko and the late Brent Sarringhaus. Brenna will be junior at IUPUI this fall.

Activities: Reading, cooking, running, doing zumba and riding quads.

Sponsor: KADS Kids

Courtney Smith, Osgood

She is the daughter of Dan and Denise Smith. Courtney will be a sophomore this fall at Purdue University.

Activities: Attending sporting events and volunteering with the clubs she is involved with; also helping others and spending time with friends and family.

Sponsor: DLS Sheet Metal and Welding

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