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Simulated shooting tests new technology

The Associated Press

METHUEN, Mass. — With students off for Veterans Day, a simulated school shooting at a Methuen grammar school Tuesday showed what “active shooter” technology could do to help police catch a gunman if the horrible threat ever strikes as it has at other schools across the country.

In the live demonstration, the “gunman” entered the school armed with an assault rifle, opening fire with dummy rounds first in the school library then rampaging through hallways and classrooms. But he had only a few minutes to wreak havoc.

Smoke alarm-sized sensors installed in classrooms, hallways and other points throughout the building were activated by the sounds of gunfire, and police officers were immediately able to track his movements and quickly subdue him.

Nearly 100 people, including U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas and regional law enforcement officers, gathered in the school auditorium to observe the demonstration of what the school district bills as the first such system operating in a public school in the United States.

Police Chief Joseph Solomon said he believes such systems should be required in many public buildings, just as fire suppression systems and smoke detectors are.

“It’s amazing, the short, split-second amount of time from identification of the shot to transmission of the message,” he said after the demonstration. “It changes the whole game. Without that shot detection system, we wouldn’t know what was going on in the school. … Valuable, valuable time can be lost.”


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