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ETOWAH COUNTY, AL (WBRC) -
Etowah County courthouse personnel and a special response team spent the morning in an active shooter exercise at the Etowah County Judicial Center.
Fake shots were fired. A special response team of deputies and probation officers took the man down, but then found shooters on two other floors, where there are courtrooms.
Fortunately, it's just an exercise, and workers executed safety plans.
"The girls jumped about three feet off the floor. First thing we started doing was trying to secure the doors, and lock those doors, and work our plan that we've talked about doing from the beginning of this," Presiding Judge Allen Millican said.
Many of their formations can't be shown on camera, due to security and copyright restrictions. But in one scenario, most of the gunmen were arrested and one managed to take a hostage in a jury room.
In real life, Etowah County's sheriff says irate people have shown up with guns, made threats, even committed suicide in the parking lot.
"We're not going to be immune in Etowah County or any other county in Alabama. It's going to happen. We've just got to be prepared for it when it does," Sheriff Todd Entrekin said.
The sheriff offers this advice if you ever find yourself in an active shooter situation:
"They need to learn what 'run, hide, fight' means, they need to know if you are in a courthouse, if you are in a grocery store, if you're in a restaurant, if it happens, what to do, how to respond to it, where to go, look at your surroundings, where's the nearest exit," he said.
This exercise ended with a briefing where they studied what everyone did right and what can be improved. They also discussed new ideas to make the courthouse even safer, like intercoms.
The judicial building was closed to the public from 8 a.m. until 9:30 a.m. for the drill.