Indiana Teachers Say Cops Shot Them with Airsoft Bullets During Active Shooter Training

How does shooting teachers with pellet guns make anyone safer?


Teachers at Meadowlawn Elementary School in Monticello, Indiana, allege they were pelted with airsoft gun bullets by police during an active shooter drill in January.

Gail Zeharalis, a representative for the Indiana State Teachers Association (ISTA), testified about the incident at an Indiana Senate hearing Wednesday, RTV6 reported. "During active shooter drill, four teachers at a time were taken into a room, told to crouch down and were shot execution style with some sort of projectiles—resulting in injuries to the extent that welts appeared, and blood was drawn," the teacher's union wrote on Twitter:

Two anonymous teachers confirmed what happened to the Indianapolis Star. "They told us, 'This is what happens if you just cower and do nothing," one of the teachers said. "They shot all of us across our backs. I was hit four times."

Ronen Tivony/NurPhoto/Sipa USA/Newscom

The incident took place as part an active shooter training program called ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate). It's a nationwide program, though it usually does not involve shooting teachers with pellet guns. County Sheriff Bill Brooks' office oversaw the training, though he couldn't go into specifics because he only took office that month and said he was not there when the airsoft guns were used.

Still, Brooks offered a confusing defense of the practice to the Star. While seemingly refusing to confirm that teachers were shot at all, he also said the teachers "all knew they could be" because "it's a shooting exercise."

"It's a soft, round projectile," he told Star of the plastic pellets used in the airsoft guns. "The key here is 'soft.'" The practice ended, he added, after a teacher complained.

The ISTA went public with the allegations as part of an effort to amend a proposed school safety bill to clarify that teachers shouldn't be shot. It seems like a pretty reasonable demand. After all, it's hard to understand how shooting teachers with pellet guns makes anyone safer.

Incidents like these highlight the oftentimes needless and extreme measures taken during active shooter drills. In 2014, Lenore Skenazy wrote for Reason about armed police who swarmed into a middle school in Florida without warning teachers or students that it was a drill:

The fear that teachers might suffer heart attacks, that kids might experience psychotic breakdowns, that someone with his own weapon might shoot real bullets in defense—none of that seemed to occur to our peacekeepers. Nor did the notion that distraught parents might race frantically to the school, endangering anyone in their path.

As Reason's Jesse Walker has argued, these sorts of overly realistic simulations don't prepare students and teachers for disasters as much as they pointlessly reenact past tragedies. They're also not terribly effective, as Erika Christakis has written in The Atlantic.

The truth is, schools are actually relatively safe. School shootings are tragic, but thankfully, very rare. In fact, some research suggests schools might even be safer now than they were in the 1990s, as Robby Soave has pointed out.

With that in mind, it's very hard to defend the kind of institutionalized self-harm that Indiana teachers say they were subjected to.

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  1. That’s why they never do stuff like this in boot camp. Getting shot at never prepares you for getting shot at.

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  2. “They told us, ‘This is what happens if you just cower and do nothing,” one of the teachers said. “They shot all of us across our backs. I was hit four times.”

    This is darkly hilarious in its irony. And, of course, if one of the teachers had “done something”, like hauled off and decked the officer, they’d have been straight-facedly prosecuted.

    1. OBJECT LESSON: SHEEP NEED TO BE TAUGHT NOT TO BE SHEEP. Except when we require them to be sheep.

    2. It would have been funny if a teacher had an airsoft and shot them while defending the classroom.

      1. Where’s the darned “Like” button? Oh, this ain’t FB …

  3. Let’s not pretend… This is a program to allow psychopaths to live out their fantasies.

    1. Let’s not go overboard, Curt. We have some colorful characters here in the commentariat but I wouldn’t go so far as to call them psychopaths.

      Oh, you meant the cops. My mistake.

      1. I think there might be a fair amount of autism here at least.

        1. five minutes to Wapner!

        2. Yeah, I think several commenters are neurodiverse. That’s why I try not to be too hard on them.

          1. 1. Hihn [who often gets banned and returns via various socks, you can usually get him to go off on certain tangents like “Left + Right = 0” that he just can’t help. I sincerely believe he suffers from psychosis and that he spends a lot of time in psychiatric hospitals.
            2. Tony, who wants everyone else to provide for his needs and take care of him so he can do whatever it is he does, which appears to mostly be baiting people who identifies at conservative and/or libertarian.
            3. Then there’s “The Rev;” best description I’ve seen of him is that he is a “bowl of gall bladders and failed dictators that somehow became sentient.” Whatever he or it is it can’t say much beyond “carry on clingers” and “your betters will show you the way” etc.

            Did I miss any?

            1. Chip and Crusty?

              Whateverthehell Sparky and Old Mexican have morphed into?

      2. Yeah, if this was the comments for the daily links it would be a different story. But in this case, it was a reference to the cops.

    2. Policing itself is a program to allow psychopaths to live out their fantasies.

  4. I’m certainly on board with realistic training, but execution style? I don’t see what training objective that would accomplish.

    On the other hand, “shooting” a teacher who tried rushing a “gunman” would be useful, in the sense of teaching them what is possible and what isn’t when dealing with an armed attacker.

    But trust the police to fuck it up. Somebody explain to me again why they should be the only ones trusted with guns?

    1. Execution style because they failed.

      ALICE training talks about evaluating your situation, about when you should fight back, and when you should hide, and when you should run.

      The only reason any of these idiots got hit by an airsoft pellet is because they sat there and let someone kill them.

  5. If teachers were allowed to be armed in school, cops wouldn’t try this stuff.

    1. You’re not going to shoot a person with holding an airsoft with a real firearm. Only government is allowed to do that.

  6. Yes, these “training” exercises have a history of getting out of control…

    Did y’all ever hear of the below?

    There’s another area where role-playing can go too far. Far less well known, though, is the fact that NASA conducted similar training exercises. Train the astronauts not to sexually harass each other, sure, yes, but even more so, to not dehumanize each other, either. Being at a very high-tech and rule-following organization, and all, NASA employees might tend to start regarding each other, sometimes, as “productivity units”, see, so in the role-playing games, they weren’t Fred and Susie and Alan, they were Astronaut A, Astronaut B, Astronaut C, and so, on and on. So they could SEE just how bad dehumanization is, of course, was the noble goal.

    So then go check out Astronauts Lisa Nowak and William Oefelein , see . Would you be surprised to learn that when they had taken their dehumanization-etc. role-playing NASA exercises, they had both been assigned to play “Astronaut-E”? They became the roles that they had played, and they became astronaughty indeed!

    1. As soon as all this happened, NASA discontinued this kind of training altogether. They are still running in fear of what happens when “Astronaut-C” gets carried away and does HIS thing (in public even)! It was, I am quite sure, Astronaut-C, role-playing-run-amok, AKA AstroNAZI, that taught The Donald to talk about the “good people on both sides of the protests” at Charleston, to include White Nationalists! Let it be known that I figured it out first!

  7. “Hey I told you, you don’t get your gun until you tell me your name.”

  8. These unionized teachers are almost certainly libtards who would vote against gun rights, so they got what they deserve.

    1. Crusty understands the difference between sarcasm and parody.

  9. I don’t find anything wrong with the pellet guns. I have a problem with these drills to begin with. They will not stop a single shooting from happening, and the collective psychological damage to society from constantly fearmongering about irrational fears from absurdly rare events is far more dangerous than the threat of the actual thing we’re told to fear.

    A kid is probably just as likely to be killed by a previously deported illegal immigrant who sneaked back into the country as he is in a school shooting. Both are irrational fears. The difference is that the entire media is comprised of Democrats so they push the “correct” narratives and irrational fears and hysteria, which happen to be the ones that further Democrat talking points.

    1. I honestly don’t mind a little security theater as long it’s not actively hurting anyone and isn’t too expensive.

      In general, people are stupid. But if you tell them there’s a plan for what to do in an active shooter scenario, they feel a little better about the plan being handled. People having such freakouts about these insanely rare incidents that that adding an extra drill twice a year isn’t adding to the panic.

      It’s when they need to do these monthly, and then spend a ton of time producing media and materials and demonstrations that it gets out of hand. Plus, there’s the shit like this where they’re shooting people and accomplishing literally shit. The chances that any of these teachers are involved with an actual school shooter are statistically negligible.

      The only thing they need to know is that in an emergency situation, the only person who will be responsible for you is you.

  10. “This is what happens if you just cower and do nothing,”

    But we won’t let you carry guns so this is what will happen.

  11. Do they set fires and burn teachers during fire drills? Do they break windows and cut students during tornado drills? Because that’s what happens if you just cower and do nothing.

    1. You know who else cowered and did nothing, and got sprayed across the back?

      1. Tony’s unwitting duct-taped and blindfolded boy-toy?

        1. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Tony is the reincarnation of John Wayne Gacy. I just know it.

          1. I hope you’re not implying that I’m fat.

      2. The kids in the videos that PB posts on Reason comment boards?

  12. I went through ALICE training. The airsoft was weird but harmless. I never once heard any complaints from other teachers and most of us learned that we were allowed to fight back, a radical departure from what was taught before the training. The deputies were very professional and courteous – not a single dog shot that day! Other days… I can’t comment.

    1. I lived on a cattle farm for a brief time; one of our pastimes was shooting the young bulls on the rump with an airsoft to watch the reaction.

      No animals were harmed in this pathetic amusement.

  13. If you don’t get to live out your fantasy of shooting teachers who lorded it over you when you were a D+ student in high school then why would you want to be a cop?

    1. You assume they were D+ students… remember “D is for Diploma.”

      1. It certainly is in the LAUSD.

  14. “During active shooter drill, four teachers at a time were taken into a room, told to crouch down and were shot execution style with some sort of projectiles?resulting in injuries to the extent that welts appeared, and blood was drawn”

    Is this a problem?

    1. Not for me. Sounds like some folks [former students most likely] got some payback that day.

  15. I thought the cops overdid it by releasing a 76 page racist manifesto before the drill if you axe me.

  16. This was battery, both criminal and tortious (civil). Go to the state police and file charges. Then, go to your doctor and claim that, since this happened, you’ve been getting headaches and have been unable to sleep. Then, file civil suit. Any ambulance chaser will do.

    *Still, Brooks offered a confusing defense of the practice to the Star. While seemingly refusing to confirm that teachers were shot at all, he also said the teachers “all knew they could be” because “it’s a shooting exercise.”*

    Seems the new sheriff’s counsel knows this was problematic, thus the “refusing to confirm” part.

    Oh wait. This is unionized public school teachers versus cops. Tough to pick a pony in that race.

  17. This sounds like some cop read a book on SERE, and tried to recreate it, but didn’t understand the point.

    You don’t put 4 teachers in a room and execute them.

    You put 4 teachers in a room and tell them you’re going to execute them, then walk in 2 minutes later and try to do so. If they’re good they don’t get shot and they overcome the attacker, and if not, well…… that’s why airsoft hurts, so they have an incentive to try harder next time, because in the real world, there is no next time.

    And of course, you give any of the teachers with concealed carry permits their own airsoft guns, in part to demonstrate the difference, and don’t tell the cops which are which.

  18. I don’t know if it makes anyone safer, but who doesn’t want to shoot a teacher with a welt-inducing pellet gun. Doesn’t even break the skin, but it’d be fun.

  19. Sounds like they were training the teachers, whereas what should be emphasized is training the officers. The Broward County fiasco showed that getting the officers into the building is often the difficult part.

  20. Ya’know, this doesn’t pass the sniff test. I suspect that there is a lot more to the story. Training cops and teachers and schools for active shooters is in the public interest. But we don’t want to tell wackos how people are being trained to deal with them. The ITSA version sounds too bad to be true. Maybe ITSA doesn’t like the training or maybe it was just like they said and the cops blew the training – who can say. Public meetings in Monticello would be great but it should not be dealt with on the internet. For what its worth, airsoft is a lot less painful than paintballs or simunition.

  21. Home School!

  22. Home School!

  23. Home School!

  24. Home School!

    1. Can’t be said enough.

      Seriously, if the public school is such a dangerous environment, why go there?

      It’s like going to a college where you have a 5 in 4 chance of being raped – why put yourself through that?

      1. Home school. Prepare for Hillsdale College .edu. Send your kidz. Send your money. I do.

      2. It’s part of the socialization process that homeschooled kids don’t get- be victim, be snowflake, be totally dependent on the government.

  25. “”They told us, ‘This is what happens if you just cower and do nothing,””

    I thought what happened is that you stayed safe and got to hang around the building while the shooting was going on without risking your own life.

    Oh, wait, I’m thinking of that cop in the Florida school shooting.

  26. There is a bit of confusion by lack of consistent verbiage in this article, I think. Airsoft ammo are little, plastic, (round) BBs. Depending on the power of the airsoft gun shooting them they MIGHT, MAYBE cause a small bruise, at most. They can be a little painful (so I’m not saying they are pleasant or appropriate to use in this situation, to be clear.) Pellets are generally made of lead and shaped kind of like a bucket and can be used in most often in pellet rifle air guns (NOT airsoft) and can even potentially be used in small game hunting. They certainly have the potential to break skin. Finally bullets are a completely different thing from either of those, even when talking about the rubber simunition bullets, which can be quite painful in the same vane as paintball and can leave welts and large bruises. All 3 of those terms were used to describe the airsoft plastic BBs in the article which makes it quite confusing to distinguish for certain what exactly was used in this instance and that distinction, at least to me, makes quite a bit of difference when considering just how horrific this incidence might have been.

    1. I shot myself in the index finger once, point blank with an airsoft gun and it hurt like heck and definitely left a mark. I didn’t do it on purpose but I know I won’t do it again. When you consider that execution style shootings are point blank, I can see where it could leave a mark and possibly break skin in a more sensitive area like the back of the neck or shoulder.

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  28. “How does shooting teachers with pellet guns make anyone safer?”

    Thanos – “Should have gone for the head. “

  29. Experience in “Active Shooter Training” (scare-quotes) is a good ‘teacher’. A bad experience is a better teacher. The ONLY defense against a shooter is with a gun. ARM TEACHERS.

    Good people ought to be armed as they will, with wits and guns and The Truth. #MAGA

  30. The HuffPo said the teachers were shot in the “head” with a “Pellet” gun. It was and “Airsoft” gun. That is exactly why
    anti-gun people cannot write gun legislation.

    1. But was it a semi-automatic airsoft gun?

      1. I don’t know, they didn’t have air soft guns when I was a kid, and it doesn’t matter, the air soft gun was “scary looking” and that is what counts!

        1. It had a thing that went up.

  31. Gun free zones – The cowards choice of best places to find people who can’t shoot back.

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