Teacher Scared by Gunman in Drill Sues Oregon District for PTSD

April 23, 2015

A former grade school teacher in eastern Oregon says she was so scared when a man burst into her classroom and pulled the trigger on the pistol he pointed at her face that she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and has sued the district’s safety officer and others responsible for a surprise “active shooter” drill.

The episode in April 2013 at Pine Eagle School District No. 61, a charter school in Halfway, followed the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, which left 20 children and six adults dead.

At the time, Pine Eagle officials said they conducted the drill to see how many of the school’s staff would survive an onslaught. Two men conducted it on a Friday when students were home for a teacher in-service day. Officials judged that a real attack would have left most of the 15 teachers dead.

The federal court lawsuit says Linda McLean was sitting at her desk when she heard a clatter and running feet, and then a man in black hoodie and goggles burst through the door, The Oregonian reported.

LawsuitHe leveled a pistol at McLean’s face and pulled the trigger. The teacher heard gunfire, smelled smoke and felt her heart racing, the lawsuit says.

“You’re dead,” the gunman said, and stalked out, according to the lawsuit.

McLean’s lawsuit names as defendants the safety officer, Shawn Thatcher, as well as two school administrators, seven school board members, and Alpine Alarm Communications and Construction, which put in the school’s security system. Among its allegations are civil assault and emotional distress. It seeks economic and punitive damages.

Representatives of the school declined to comment. The company declined to comment to The Oregonian and couldn’t be reached by The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Halfway is a town of about 300 people south of the Wallowa Mountains.

Members of the district’s Safety Committee notified Baker County authorities in advance so they wouldn’t respond to a call from the school, and the sheriff’s office reviewed concealed-carry permits to ensure no teachers would fire back at Thatcher and school board member John Minarich, the second man with weapon and similar attire.

Minarich was described in court papers as the principal and president of Alpine Alarm.

The lawsuit said McLean was so shaken she “continued to relive it and try to make sense of it, but could not. Ms. McLean could not sleep, and remained anxious and vigilant. When she drifted off to sleep, she experienced nightmares and sweating.”

She tried to return to work but was unable to, and doctors and a psychologist have diagnosed her with PTSD, the lawsuit said.

Topics Lawsuits Oregon

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