METHUEN — A man with spiky frosted hair and a camouflage visor ran down the hallways of Timony Grammar School yesterday morning, yelling for his son at the top of his lungs.
The man was a Methuen policeman, Detective Ron Valliere, playing the role of a highly aggravated parent who said he had a gun and wanted his son immediately. It was all part of a coordinated lockdown drill, an exercise designed to test the training of police, special operations teams and the school administrators, teachers and students.
Methuen police Chief Joseph Solomon and schools Superintendent Judith Scannell worked together on the exercise. "I think it went very well," Solomon said after Valliere was led out of the school in handcuffs.
Administrators and teachers at Timony were not notified in advance. Scannell and Solomon told principal Timothy Miller about the drill when they arrived just before 10 a.m. yesterday. Immediately after Miller was informed, Valliere ran down the hall, yelling, "I want my son! I want my son!"
Teachers immediately shut and locked their classroom doors and shepherded their students into predetermined waiting locations, such as interior rooms, as Miller announced the lock down drill over the intercom. Students in the library were led into a storage room. Teachers in the occupied rooms slid green cards with their room numbers under the doors into the hall, indicating there was not an issue in that room.
Scannell and Solomon said red cards indicate a problem, and a separate card indicated an injured student. Similar cards are put on the exterior windows to communicate what is going on in the room to rescuers outside the building.
No card outside a door would mean that room must be searched and cleared.
"The parent" wound up in the auditorium, where he told several students there to leave and hid behind a screen on the stage. The students, who were helping another teacher with Revolutionary War props and did not hear the drill announcement, complied and filed into a hall, where physical education teacher Brian Angelari spotted them and led them into a downstairs room.