Six employees and parents of two children at a Michigan psychiatric children's hospital are suing the state and top administrators after they said an unannounced active-shooter drill left them traumatized. Hospital director Victoria Petti allegedly directed a clerical worker to make an announcement over the PA system saying there were active intruders in the building and to sound genuinely afraid. A second announcement followed, identifying the intruders as two men armed with AR-15s who had fired shots, reports the Detroit News. The announcements led children and employees into a panic, believing an active shooter was on the premises. Adults barricaded themselves into places with no windows, stacked heavy furniture against the doors and armed themselves and the children with whatever they could find. Employees texted or called friends and family members, afraid they were going to die to tell them they loved them.
Some called 911, but dispatchers did not know it was a drill and scores of police arrived at the center with tactical weapons and body armor. Seeing the large police presence only confirmed employees' fears that the situation was real. Lynn Suftin of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, which runs the center, said its staff "worked quickly to engage law enforcement partners and the responding agencies who worked to resolve the situation" Suftin said the agency was working on an "improved active intruder training and drill process." The lawsuit said that in the past, employees were given an advance warning about active-shooter drills. In this case, children and staff stayed barricaded for nearly an hour, in fear for their lives. Petti later said she was "deeply sorry" for the stress the incident caused. The lawsuit says that since the incident, patients have engaged in self harm, regressed in physical and mental symptoms and caused disruptive behavior because of the trauma from the drill.