Sirens, explosions and gun shots rang out Tuesday morning as Liberty Middle School hosted an "active shooter" drill to test local and county authorities.
Costing $140,000 with more than 150 participants, local and county law enforcement agencies, EMS and a medevac landing behind the school, the shooter drill added up to the largest drill of its kind in the state and possibly the country, Sgt. John Morella said.
The drill was designed to test the abilities of more than a dozen agencies in their response to an emergency incident similar to the event at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
"It was very real," said Sgt. David Naimaister, who was one of the first officers that entered the school.
Naimaister explained, there were four shooters in the school and police were able to apprehend them without any casualties, however a few officers would have suffered minor hits. Police used simunition.
The Department of Defense was also involved in Tuesday's event, which is uncommon for a drill for local authorities, Morella said.
"It's comforting to know that our law enforcement agencies are preparing that if god forbid this situation become a reality," Mayor Robert Parisi said at the drill.
Morella said, he was impressed with the response time from the agencies involved. However, he explained communication needs to be improved for police and between other agencies.
"I definitely feel safer if this was to happen," incoming senior and volunteer Daniel Okochukwu said.
Locals also volunteered to play the part of parents with children inside, emotionally harassing officers and trying to force their way past police outside.
"I thought it was important to give police a real experience," said Bob Klemt, a West Orange resident with a child in Gregory Elementary. "If the only thing standing between you and your child in danger is an officer and tape then you are going to do what you need to do to protect them."
The drill was funded by a grant from the Department of Homeland Security and took more than eight months to plan.
"It was important after Sandy Hook," Klemt said. "Hopefully this was helpful."