LI students help cops drill for school shootings

Suffolk police held a training drill at Connetquot High School on Saturday. Officers and student volunteers practiced how they would handle a school shooting. Videojournalist: Ed Betz (Feb. 23, 2013)

advertisement | advertise on newsday

"Wounded" children lie sprawled Saturday in a school's locker-lined corridors. Down the hall, screaming adolescent "hostages" run to safety as cops brandishing "pistols" bark orders.

"Put your hands up! Hands up!" the cops scream at the fleeing youths to make sure none among them posed a threat.

But many of the youths -- all volunteers -- were smiling, the guns fake and the cops performing only a drill held Saturday at Connetquot High School in Bohemia by the Suffolk County Police Department.

The frantic officers went about searching bathroom by bathroom, garbage bin by garbage bin, hallway by hallway, for the "active shooter" -- cop lingo for a parent's worst nightmare: a murderer on a rampage.

"Fortunately, here on Long Island we haven't had to face that situation, but we have had something close to home just across the Sound in Connecticut, so of course that's raised our awareness," said Insp. Aristides Mojica, the Fifth Precinct commanding officer, who helped run the training.

Mojica was referring to the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in which 26 people, including 20 children, were fatally shot.

Saturday more than 50 police officers rehearsed for drama in which they never want to be stars.

"The sector car operators, the first people who respond that gets the 911 call -- they're the ones that are going to have to go in and neutralize an active shooter," Mojica said.

During one scenario, an officer detonates a small smoke explosion. Other cops hurtle up a staircase.

A training officer shouts commands.

"You gotta keep moving! Let's go. Let's go!" the trainer shouted. "There's kids getting killed down the hallway!"

One of those kids tasked with "getting killed down the hallway" was Ryan McCullagh, 17, of Holbrook.

He said, "It's an adrenaline rush. . . . It's a good training event for them . . . "

You also may be interested in: