At approximately 11:30 am on Wednesday, September 20, 2017, a student pulled out a weapon in the cafeteria of Mattoon High School, in Mattoon IL. As the student pointed the gun at others in the cafeteria, Angela McQueen, a PE Teacher at the school, physically engaged with the gunman. According to reports, Ms. McQueen kept pushing the gun towards the ceiling as the shooter fired many rounds. One student was hit by a bullet while evacuating and suffered a chest wound that is reported to be non-life threatening. Another student was grazed on the hand. Ms. McQueen was able to subdue the shooter, and was quickly assisted by the onsite School Resource Officer, who then disarmed the shooter and took him into custody.
In the post-event press conference, Mattoon Chief of Police, Jeff Branson, stated that he was very impressed at how students and staff at the school had followed their training by either evacuating or sheltering in place. He said many of the rooms were extremely well barricaded. Branson also stated that many lives were saved by the “… quick response of the teacher. She has been trained obviously.” He praised her response, “If the teacher had not responded as quickly as she had, I think the situation would have been a lot different.”
In a message to the ALICE Training, a local officer of the Charleston Illinois Police Department and Certified ALICE Instructor explained that he had assisted the school in rolling out ALICE Training. He praised the actions of the staff and students; the teacher, SRO, those who evacuated, and those who barricaded. The instructor noted, “I couldn’t be happier with the reaction of the teachers and students. When I was in school all we were taught was to hide under a desk and call the police. The police response to today’s shooting took around five minutes. I shudder to think of the carnage we would have found inside the school if [they] had not been armed with the skills taught to them in ALICE.”
Greg Crane, Founder of the ALICE Training, praised the local instructors and the actions of the school. “We are extremely grateful and appreciative for the local Certified ALICE Instructors who work so hard to provide ALICE training to their communities. We could not be prouder of the staff and students at Mattoon High School who used their response options to participate in their own survival. Their actions minimized casualties and that is always the goal of any emergency response plan. We pray for a quick recovery for those injured in this event and healing for the community.”
ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate) is the nation’s first training program for citizens to increase their survival chances and save lives, if faced with a violent critical incident. ALICE Training has trained thousands of police departments, K-12 school districts, higher education, businesses, hospitals, and houses of worship in the ALICE protocols for nearly 20 years.