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Lt. Col. Shane Gouker, operations officer for Futures Directorate, Combat Development and Integration Department, plays the role of a renegade shooter at The Raymond G. Davis Center aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico during an active-shooter drill with role players Tuesday.

Photo by Eve A. Baker

Davis Center conducts valuable active-shooter drill

17 Dec 2014 | Eve A. Baker Marine Corps Base Quantico

In response to mass shootings at schools and other locations, including at the Washington Navy Yard in September 2013, various units aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico have routinely conducted both lecture-style training and active-shooter drills with role players. The most recent active shooter drill aboard the base was conducted at the Raymond G. Davis Center on Dec. 16.

Erik Doyle, director of operations for Combat Development and Integration Department, directed the planning of the drill. Doyle said while there have been discussions and classroom-style training in the building about an active shooter situation, the best way to train people to know what to do is to hold a drill, much like in the way schools conduct fire drills. Planning for this drill began over the summer and involved staff from several directorates within CD&I, Marine Corps Intelligence Activity, and Security Battalion, among others.

According to Doyle, an active shooter training session took place on Dec. 3 in the Davis Center auditorium, and “there was standing room only.” At that time, building personnel were notified that there would be a drill with role players on Tuesday so as to head off panic.

To further ensure the safety of everyone involved and prevent injury, multiple other safety measures were implemented. Posters notifying personnel of the drill were placed around the building weeks in advance, and reminder cards were placed on every desk in the building on Friday. An exercise alert was sent out basewide through the MCBQ Mass Notification System the day before the event, and Doyle said staff were notified as they walked in the building the morning of the drill.

During the exercise, Lt. Col. Shane Gouker, operations officer for Futures Directorate, CD&I, played the role of a “disgruntled military officer who had decided to murder his supervisor and then commit ‘suicide by police,’” according to Doyle. Gouker said people behaved appropriately as he moved through the building, and they ducked backed into offices and shut the door when they saw him. He also said the realistic training likely made people think about what they would do should the situation actually occur.

At the start of the exercise, at approximately 1:30 p.m., Gouker entered the building through the front door carrying an M4 rifle loaded with blank rounds and proceeded to simulate shooting the command duty officers. He then made his way toward the stairwell to his office, “shooting” a few more employees along the way, before arriving at his office to simulate killing his boss.

Military police officers arrived shortly after Gouker’s “rampage” began and immediately began to look for him. A few minutes later, Security Battalion’s Special Reaction Team arrived, linked up with the MPs, located and subdued Gouker, and then swept the building for potential accomplices and injured personnel.

In-progress safety measures included escorts following Gouker throughout the building to prevent anyone from confronting him, in the event that they had missed all the notifications and thought he was a real shooter. Though the comprehensive after-action reports and debriefing were conducted after the paper went to press, according to military police personnel immediately after the exercise, the drill was a success.

Capt. Jared Siebenaler, operations officer for the Provost Marshal’s Office, said he thought the training was worthwhile and fairly realistic, and that it allowed the police officers and SRT to train in an unfamiliar office building. The team was also able to incorporate K-9 training, and John Rolaf, assistant operations officer for PMO, said the working dog is a “force multiplier,” and in a real situation, it could help the officers find the gunman and detect explosives.

Many employees practiced evacuating the building, while others hid in offices behind locked doors. Siebenaler said the best thing for people to do is “egress if possible,” and if that is not an option, they should shelter in place and lock the door to the office they are in. Rolaf added that it’s critical for employees to listen to the commands of responding officers.

Doyle stated that there were several options or scenarios the planning team decided not to incorporate into the exercise situation, so as to maximize safety and minimize disruption to the work day.

While in a real-world shooting situation, people are not notified in advance, the mass hysteria that would have likely resulted would not have been worth the benefit of more realistic training.

Further, simulated injuries and medical response practice were not incorporated, nor was a total, comprehensive sweep of the building conducted, so as to keep the base’s first responders free to respond to real-world emergencies.

— Writer:

Marine Corps Base Quantico