A Colorado woman has filed suit against her former employer and the Carbondale Police Department after she says she was taken hostage during an unannounced active shooter drill.
The training exercise, which occurred last October, allegedly resulted in Michelle Meeker being held at gunpoint by a police officer disguised as a mass shooter.
Meeker says she was confronted by the officer while working at the Heritage Park Care Center, an assisted living facility for senior citizens, and forced towards a vacant room. Convinced the situation was real, Meeker says she refused to enter, prompting the officer to flash a firearm on his waist.
That is when Meeker says she began begging for her life, asking the gunmen to spare her for the sake of her young child. According to reports, the officer eventually identified himself as Michael Zimmerman before admitting that the event was a training drill.
Meeker’s lawyer, Paula Gryson, says the scenario has damaged her client emotionally, physically and mentally.
“Absolutely prepare your employees, but prepare them in a responsible and respectful manner,” Gryson told News 9.
A spokesperson with the Heritage Park Care Center admitted to the drill after being confronted by News 9 but refused to say whether or not their employees were informed beforehand.
“Unfortunately, the training exercise alarmed some at our facility,” the spokesperson said. “We have reassured everyone that the situation was safe and controlled.”
The Carbondale police chief, who was mentioned specifically in the lawsuit, did not respond to interview requests.
“We want the full extent of the law to come down on Life Care Centers and the police department,” Gryson said.
Other unannounced shooting drills have produced similar trauma for those involved.
A group of teachers in Oregon were terrified last year when two masked men burst into a faculty meeting and opened fire. Only shortly after did the group realize that the rounds were in fact blanks.
Students and teachers at the North Lake College in Irving, Texas scrambled for cover in 2012 after police began shooting training rounds outside the school. Incredibly, even though police claimed to have sent “two warning e-mails,” faculty members say they were never informed.