Last Friday, news about a horrific shooting inside a Colorado movie theater began to spread. One man is suspected of killing 12, and wounding dozens more.
In law enforcement, the Colorado massacre is known as an "active shooter" scenario. Months before the movie theater rampage, Hernando deputies began planning to deal with such an incident.
Thursday morning, most of the county's school resource officers began a training exercise designed to prepare them for a possible "active shooter" inside a school.
Deputy Vincent Gargano started the first session.
"I'm playing a very highly agitated disgruntled parent. I come in to the campus to exact my vengeance on the principal," he said.
Gargano walked into the principal's office with a gun, firing blanks to test the response of deputies. Although the exercise was planned long ago, the coming school year coupled with the Colorado shooting gives the participants an added sense of urgency, according to Sheriff Al Nienhuis.
"Unfortunately, sometimes young people get their ideas from a previous criminal who has done this," the sheriff said.
Last year, an angry grandparent was accused of confronting an elementary school principal in the small town of High Springs, just north of Gainesville. Police shot the man as he attempted to get a gun from his car. None of the students teachers or parents were hurt.
It was that experience that Lt. Mike Buruzmato suggested makes the training in Brooksville all the more important.
"If you look historically at these school shootings, they don't occur in big cities. It's small towns like Jonesboro Arkansas, Paducah, Kentucky, the list goes on," he said.
The day long exercise was paid for through a federal homeland security grant.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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