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How crews prepare for a school shooter

By Catherine Hawley, Reporter, @CatherineH_WFMZ, chawley@wfmz.com
Published On: Apr 17 2014 05:00:57 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 17 2014 07:35:53 PM CDT

While Wednesday's scare at Liberty High School in Bethlehem turned out to be a fake, police obviously take any threat inside a school very seriously.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -

While Wednesday's scare at Liberty High School in Bethlehem turned out to be a fake, police obviously take any threat inside a school very seriously.

Security experts say the steps taken by Bethlehem Police were textbook.

"They don't know until they arrive on site that it's gonna be a shooting event or not," explained security expert Dr. Diana Sorrentino of Lehigh Valley Paladin, LLC.

She says officers most likely arrived at Liberty Wednesday expecting the worst.

It soon became clear there most likely was no active shooter situation, but there could still be a threat inside the buildings.

"The challenge now becomes finding the individuals if the threat actually exists within the school," added Sorrentino.

Liberty High School spans 570,000 square feet across five buildings, a massive area to cover when a shooter could be on the loose.

Sorrentino says immediately everyone on the 22-acre campus became a suspect.

Officers methodically went room by room checking identification.

"They shut the lights off, locked the door and we kinda just sat secluded from the door so they couldn't see in the room if there was anyone," described sophomore Alex Smith.

"They just came in, guns pointed at us, yelling, screaming, telling us to get down, they were throwing desks," added Aryella Gonzalez.

Sorrentino says, when anyone could be a shooter you will be treated aggressively.

"Law enforcement is more prepared than ever to properly respond and intervene to these types of threats," she said.

Bethlehem Police and school officials tell us everyone involved followed training and protocol.

Officers were dealing with about 3,000 students in 129 classrooms on Liberty's campus.

"Without training and without learning how to do this in a systematic manner, so that we do in fact cover the entire building, would make it extremely difficult to do something like this," explained Bethlehem Police Detective Jerry Kametz.

Wednesday's lock down fell on the seventh anniversary of the shooting rampage at Virginia Tech, and Sunday marks 15-years since the massacre at Columbine High School.

Had there been a real gunmen and shots fired, Sorrentino says things would have been a lot different at Liberty.

"The average active shooter event is over in three to five minutes," she shared.

Authorities are now trained not to wait.

Sorrentino tells us officers who respond go directly after the person doing the killing.

"They don't wait, they go into the school and they pursue the gunfire."

Sorrentino adds school shootings typically have the best outcomes when the person is cut off before they enter the building.