Marines West Magazine Aug '07

Wolfpack poolees assist SWAT with crisis response

Sgt. Virgil P. Richardson Recruiting Station Seattle

SAMMAMISH, Wash. - "Be advised, we have a report of active shooter participation at East Lake High School. Report ofmultiple casualties. Suspect is actively shooting." Within moments of the call, a team of four officers in tactical formation and gear ascended quickly on the school. As they approached the front door, a group of screaming students rushed past them. "Where is the shooter? How many are there? Male or female? What kind of gun is it?" The frantic shouts from the officers went mostly unanswered; the students couldn't get to the parking lot quickly enough. Seconds from the door, the suspect appeared, brandishing a 9mm pistol. He squeezed off a single shot before falling in the hail of fire returned from the advancing police. As the team closed in on the motionless student, words from another nearby police officer instantly made the nightmare go away: "Endex! Endex! Put 'em on safe. Great job, guys. Let's gaggle over hear and talk about it for a minute." Less thrilled about his current situation, Mark Kedziora, a Marine Corps poolee and the exercise's "shooter," pulled himself off the damp ground and removed his safety gear, exposing the welts already formed where the paint-filled simulation rounds splattered on his green USMC sweats. "Dude, those are gonna leave sweet bruises," said a fellow poolee while preparing for another round of simulation. Kedziora joined more than 40 poolees from RecruitingSubstation Seattle's Delayed Entry Program to assist the King County Sheriff's Office in Active Shooter Training. Active Shooter Training is a 40-hour course taught by Master Police Officer Nick Minzghor, a 19-year veteran whose resume includes time as a SWAT officer and U.S. Marine. Before the tragedy at Columbine High School in 1999, schools were viewed as safe places free from the violence happening outside them. In the 43 minutes of the Columbine massacre, police officers nation wide realized they were unprepared for such an event. Minzghor founded Active Shooter Training, L.L.C., to train officers for such an incident. He and his AST instructors teach multiple courses per year to law enforcement agencies across the country. Being a former Marine, he enjoys the opportunity to work with local Marines during the exercises. "I know for sure that when we tell a (poolee) to do something, they'll do it," said Minzghor, who was recruited out of Recruiting Substation Northgate in 1983. "We don't have to worry about anybody doing anything crazy." The poolees enjoyed the chance to do something outside the scope or normal pool functions as well. "So far I've played flag football and ran an initial strength test. This was way better than any of that," said Kedziora. Kedziora, a senior at Cascade High School, hopes to be a federal law enforcement officer after his time in the Corps. He plans to graduate from high school early and go to recruit training in January. "Being the bad guy was a blast," he said. "This is the most Marine-like thing we've done since I joined (the DEP). I wish we could do more things like this." Participating in AST also gave students vivid insight into how they would be protected if a school shooting ever happened in their area. "It was a relief to know they train for this," said Kedziora. "I'm glad that if anything ever happened, they'd know exactly what to do." This is the third time local poolees have assisted Minzghor with his training, a relationship he hopes will continue for years to come. "This training is so important because it's hard to convince police officers to run to the sound of gunfire, but what you have at the time of battle is all you have," said Minzghor. "Having the Marines participate is vital to our efforts."

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