Monday, August 29, 2022

The 9th nominee for the “Worst Employer of 2022” is … the active shooter

“This is it. I’m done.”

That’s how one elderly employee described to police her recent experience in an active shooter drill conducted by her employer, Catholic Charities of Omaha, that went as planned but also went very, VERY wrong.

The employer hired John Channels to stage the exercise. It did not tell its employees: (1) that the drill was planned or happening; (2) that Channels would be using a real assault rifle loaded with blanks; (3) or that Channels would stage victims (actors covered in fake blood) around the building for added realism. It also failed to inform the local authorities of the drill, who responded as if it was a real and legitimate active shooter situation.

Needless to say, panic ensued, as the Omaha World-Herald reports:

About 9:30 a.m. May 19, Channels showed up in a dark hoodie with a dark mask on, fired into the air, banged on the windows of a conference room where a few employees had gathered, then began firing at the window. Fleeing employees ran past a woman lying on the ground with apparent bloody wounds. One female employee heard three shots behind her — and thought she was being fired upon. She jumped off a retaining wall in the hopes of hiding in a dumpster. Several described running as fast as they could.

Channels —who has been criminally charged with terrorism counts and who also faces separate criminal charges for sexual assault and possession of child pornography — and Catholic Charities Executive Director Denise Bartels are pointing blame fingers at each other. Channels says he just did what the employer asked him to do in making the drill as realistic as possible, and is shocked that they did not loop in the authorities. Bartels says she hires Channels on the advice of her safety director and relied on his expertise to design and execute the drill.

County Attorney Don Kleine describes it all as a “bad, bad idea” … which is about as generously as one could be in describing this disaster.

If you hold an accurate shooter drill — complete with real firearms loaded with blanks and fake blood-soaked corpses — but fail to tell anyone that it’s “just a drill,” you might be the worst employer of 2022.