The Apache Junction High School football team experienced something Wednesday morning it hopes never to experience again.
Forty-five members of the Prospectors team took part in an active-shooter training exercise by the Apache Junction Police Department’s Special Weapons and Tactics team, according to a release.
In the exercise, which was held at Four Peaks Elementary School, 1785 N. Idaho Road, they were “role players,” acting out as they would if there was a real shooter at one of AJUSD’s schools.
“The more realistic we can make the training the better it is for our officers,” Officer Carl Halperin, AJUSD’s liaison for the police department, said in the release. “Basically, we have them acting out like they’re students. As soon as the shooting kicks off, they come running out like they’re being chased and in fear for their lives. What it’s supposed to do is make officers confused as they try to figure out where the bad guys are at.”
In one of the scenarios practiced, there were two active shooters at a school. The players ran out of the classrooms, some falling to the ground as if they had been injured. The players were told beforehand what type of injuries they had “received” and the officers had to decide whether aid was needed in the moment.
“For instance, a kid will simulate a gunshot wound to the leg,” Halperin said. “What the officer is supposed to do is instead of stepping over the kid and let him bleed out, render aid right then and there. The officer would pretend to apply a tourniquet and then go on to help other students or go directly to the threat.”
Apache Junction football coach Bruce Binkley said it was important for the Prospectors to take part in the exercise for two reasons. First, he said, “It’s not my football team. It’s the community’s football team. If we want the community to support us, we need to support the community.”
Also, Binkley thought the exercise would bring his team closer together. As he spoke from his cell phone on Four Peaks’ campus, his players, on a mid-day break, were playing basketball.
“What they’re doing is they’re building a team right now and they don’t even know it,” Binkley said in the release. “They’re around each other all day. I think they’re enjoying it.”
Senior wide receiver Jordan Digos played the role of a deceased student inside one of the buildings the active shooter was hiding out in.
“It was great to help out police officers and get a real taste of what an active shooting scene would be like,” Digos said in the release. “As a student it kind of prepares us in case there’s an active shooter.
“It’s fun when you get to run out and scream but in reality it’s kind of scary.”