Authorities defend active shooter drill at Florida middle school

Jewett Middle Academy student Lauren Marionneaux texted her mother that she was "scared" during an active shooter drill at her school.
By Kate Stanton  |  Nov. 17, 2014 at 1:50 AM
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WINTER HAVEN, Fla., Nov. 17 (UPI) -- A middle school in Winter Haven, Fla., angered some parents on Thursday, who said they were notified about an active shooter drill at the school only after the drill occurred.

Stacey Ray, whose daughter Lauren is a seventh grader at Jewett Middle Academy, said she received panicked texts from Lauren when police officers with guns stormed into her classroom.

"I'm panicking because I'm thinking that it's a legitimate shooter is coming, that something bad is happening at the school," Ray told WTVT.

"A lot of people started getting scared because we thought it was a real drill," Lauren said. "We actually thought that someone was going to come in there and kill us."

Officials, who said they were preparing students and officers for potential emergencies, emailed parents about the drill immediately afterward.

A spokesperson for the Polk County Public Schools told The Washington Post that "unfortunately, no one gets an advanced notice of real life emergencies."

"We don't want students to be scared, but we need them to be safe," the statement added.

Winter Haven Police said in a later statement that they had "evaluated procedures."

Future drills "will be performed by uniformed officers without weapons," the department said.

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