Police Department's swat team moved into Howard High School of
Technology, arrested six terrorists and freed the remaining
students and school staff hostages. It was all make-believe, but
the simulated incident was as realistic as organizers and
participants could make it.
And it was staged for a serious
"Bad things happen all the time,"
said Don McVaugh, of Community Research Associates, the
consultant organization which organized the exercise.
It was intended to test the
city's plan for responding to a terror incident or comparable
emergency. The scenario was based loosely
on the takeover in 2004 of a school in Belsan, Russia, by
terrorists connected the the Chechnya separist movement.
In staging the
event on June 20, Wilmington joined other cities around the
nation testing their preparedness. The U.S. Department of
Homeland Security will evaluate results and issue a report,
which John Rago, the city's communications director, said will
be made public except for some details which could compromise
security. He said he did not know how soon it will be ready.
Except for basic
defining elements and some specific peripheral incidents
injected at appropriate points by controllers, the responders
were on their own as the event unfolded. Evaluators kept score
as they went along. Their observations will furnish the basis
for the overall evaluation.
The incident began
when the 'terrorists' arrived in a food-service delivery truck
before the start of the school day.
Students and staff members who
volunteered to portray the hostages are
marched from the cafeteria where they
were seized to the main office by
demonstrate their seriousness of
purpose, the terrorists 'executed' two
of the hostages. (The young volunteers
proved throughout the exercise to be
quite adept role-players.)
One of the student hostages
escaped. Cautious police
officers took her into
custody until her identity
was verified. At that point
she was able to provide
participants first details
of what was happening in the