Grand Rapids, MI -- As police officers swept through the halls of Davenport University in Battle Creek on Monday, Jeremy Holder learned a valuable lesson.
"It's all about survival and it happens so fast," said the 22-year-old student from Battle Creek. "I was caught off guard."
A third-year student at Davenport, Holder was one of 25 students and staff who participated in training at the college at 200 W. Van Buren St.
Organized by the college and the Battle Creek Police Department, the morning exercise was part of an ongoing program begun last year to prepare all 11 Davenport campuses for the possibilities of an active shooter entering a building, said Shallan Spielmaker, college director of security services.
"We would rather be a university that is proactive," Spielmaker said.
The college tries to brief students and staff about how to respond to a shooting, both on its website and in orientations, she said. But bringing officers into the building was designed to acquaint them with the floorplan and emphasize practice.
Holding plastic guns, officers from the Emergency Response Team conducted several searches of classrooms, looking for people pretending to be shooters and their victims.
"It helps us and it helps the schools with their policies and procedures," said BCPD Officer Brett Weiss. "We get to train and get familiar with the school and their policies so we can work together. We have one goal and that is to end the situation as fast as we possibly can."
As staff near the front door began yelling, "shooter, shooter," staff locked doors, turned off lights and moved everyone to dark corners of the room as they tried to hide.
"It really seemed like a realistic drill," said Holder. "You can see how fast in three seconds something can happen."
When police told the group that normally the intent of the shooter is only to kill as many people as possible, Holder said the thought was sobering.
"They are there to shoot people," Weiss told the staff and students. "We are there to eliminate the problem. Don't push the situation and don't lay down and take it. Do what you can to survive."
He and others said they might have thought about talking to the person or finding a way to stop them.
"But we learned don't try to be a hero. Don't try to talk the person down," he said. "It is all about survival. I will try to protect myself and hide or get out."
Written By: Trace Christenson, Battle Creek Enquirer