Estrella Mountain Community College, in partnership with the cities of Avondale and Goodyear Police Departments, conducted a joint training exercise today, March 15, 2010, on the college campus to test their inter-operability during a crisis situation, specifically, an active shooter scenario.
SWAT vehicles and police officers swarmed the campus as part of the exercise, which lasted approximately two hours. Safety checks were conducted first thing in the morning to ensure that there was no active ammunition on the campus, followed by tactical exercises such as identifying the suspect’s location, negotiations, and finally, arrest.
The shooter, played by Jim Cerven, an EMCC administration of justice adjunct instructor, began shooting in Estrella Hall, fatally killing student actors and college staff, and injuring others. Estrella Mountain’s administration immediately enacted the college’s emergency action plan by sending emails and text message alerts to students, faculty and staff, followed by an announcement of lockdown of the affected buildings, played on the intercom system. The campus remained in partial lockdown while SWAT officers pursued the suspect who had fled to Montezuma Hall and took hostages in a second-floor classroom.
After approximately an hour and half of negotiations and intermittent hostage release, the suspect surrendered and was arrested during the mock exercise. Avondale and Goodyear officers and college administration held a debriefing session following the completion of the exercise which outlined what was done well during the exercise and what could be improved.
The college is committed to providing a safe environment for its students, faculty and staff, and continually reviews and enhances its emergency plan. This exercise was an opportunity for the college and local public safety agencies to work together, providing an excellent learning opportunity for all.