Ex-Marine trains schools on active shooters, says Chardon students 'died for no reason'

Hendry: Schools need more than just lockdowns

KENT, Ohio - Two months ago, a gunman opened fire at Chardon High School, shooting five students, killing three of them.
Daniel Parmertor, 16, Russell King, 17, Demetrius Hewlin, 16, died from their injuries from the shooting.

"I get passionate about it. I get emotional. Because I think those kids died for no reason," Lt. Joe Hendry said.

Hendry spends every day protecting others. The ex-Marine and father of three is an administrative lieutenant at Kent State University. He's also an adjunct ALICE instructor.

"It stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuation," Hendry said. ALICE is an active shooter preparation course started by a company based in Texas. Hendry is one of eight national instructors.

The program teaches students, faculty members, city employees and hospital staff members how to prepare and fight back against a gunman.

"When it starts to happen, you need to immediately start responding to it," Hendry said. For many schools, a lockdown is the only plan in place.

"All they do is turn off the lights, they lock the door, they pull the drapes and they herd the kids into the corner of the room. All that is doing is giving the shooter a target-rich environment with no options," Hendry said.

Hendry teaches that a person can do more than hide under a desk waiting to be shot. "A lot of stuff is common sense, but not common knowledge kind of thing."

Hendry explained that people are a much easier targets when they are close up compared to if they started to run.

"I've had people tell me, I don't want to run away because I'll get shot in the back, but actually as you are running away you are getting smaller on the site picture on a gun. That's why it's harder to shoot something far away because it appears smaller."

Hendry also said that if you're trapped in a room, consider spreading out instead of hiding in a corner.

"What's easier for me to shoot? A bunch of people piled in a corner over there or this?"

Hendry also shows his classes simple countermeasures to use if the shooter makes it inside from throwing water bottles at someone's head to using a chair as a weapon. He even shows them the proper way to overtake someone.

"I usually try to pick the two smallest females in the class and with a couple minutes of instructions I have them take me to the ground," Hendry said.

The instructor also teaches the students how to care for someone who had been shot until paramedics arrive. Hendry said the point is to get people to mentally prepare and to teach them something more than lockdown.

"If you taught all those people for all those years to get under the desk, it's going to save them. It doesn't," Hendry said.

Hendry has personally trained more than 2,000 people, but he was recently reminded there are so many schools that don't know ALICE techniques.

"Knowing I wish I would have gotten there sooner to talk to them. That's the bad part," Hendry explained, while wiping away tears.

Hendry didn't get to Chardon High School before a gunman ended three lives and changed so many others, but he'll continue teaching thousands more in the memory of those three boys.

Not everyone is sold on the ALICE techniques. National School Safety consultant Ken Trump, who is based in northeast Ohio, has questions about the training.

"The lockdown, evacuation and communication components of ALICE are nothing new and are consistent with best practices in school safety. But providing a video or assembly speech to tell kids to attack armed intruders is age-inappropriate and highly risky. It is unrealistic to expect young, emotional and frightened kids in a K-12 school setting to make life-or-death decisions that police officers and trained adults are challenged to make under the same life-threatening conditions," Trump said.

Hendry said some school districts he's approached don't want to use ALICE while others are eager to put the training in place. He said one school who passed on ALICE three years ago called him back the day after the shootings at Chardon High School to have him come back and teach the classes.

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