Mostrose, Michigan High School had a bit of a scare when a man wearing a stocking mask was lurking outside the school. A cafeteria worker spotted the man and sounded the alarm, which caused the school to lock down, and evacuate 180 students from the cafeteria to the gymnasium.
Police would have apprehended the masked man, except it was Montrose Police Chief Darrell Ellis, said a story in the Flint (Michigan) Journal.
Chief Ellis was at the school as part of a classroom exercise. He and a colleague were going to surprise students in a forensic science class. Everything went well in the classroom, but Ellis said he realized something was wrong when he found the lunch room completely empty.
Ellis learned what had happened, called for the all clear, and the lockdown ended 10 minutes after it started.
Ellis and principal Jim Ply praised the worker's action, as well as the students response.
"Er, ah, Ms. Jenkins' swift actions and — uh, jeez this is embarrassing — the students' cooperation, we were able to, ah, test the school's reaction to, um, terrorist attacks. Yeah, that's it, terrorist attacks."
"She did exactly what she was supposed to," Ply told the Journal, which he mistook for a TV station. "On the positive side, it was amazing how well (lockdown lessons) kicked in."
The schools have been doing these mock robberies for 12 years, but this is the first time they've had this kind of reaction.
The lesson plan calls for a fake robber to steal the teacher's purse, and students will interview one another on details, just like police take witness descriptions.
Parents were sent a note on Thursday that explained what happened, but they were mistaken for bomb threats and audit letters from the IRS.
School officials and police are already making plans to avoid any repeats, and will send an email alert in advance of the next mock robbery. Of course, it will be mistaken for a "Cheep Canadian medz now!" email, and deleted by the school's junk mail filter.
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