Police officers, weapons drawn, took positions on the perimeter.
With the streets surrounding Abbott Middle School in Elgin cordoned off Tuesday morning, an armored vehicle carrying members of the Elgin Special Weapons and Tactics team sped to the side door.
Radios and walkie-talkies crackled with a report of gunmen and shots fired. The officers filed out of the vehicle, rifles pointed down, moving quickly past a sign, "Police Training in Progress Do Not Enter."
It was all part of Elgin Area School District U-46 and the Elgin police and fire departments' simulated school security breach exercise. The scenario involved a gunman and mock injuries. The district has conducted these training exercises since 2007.
"It's an effort to refine our process every year," said John Heiderscheidt, the U-46 coordinator of school safety and security. "I think it went great." Administrators, school principals and school resource officers from schools throughout the district attended and monitored the action from inside the school and from the command center a couple blocks away in a church parking lot.
"I was impressed by the way the police and fire officials asked us questions and wanted our opinions," said Susan Smith, U-46's Multi-Tier System of Support coordinator. "They were encouraging our input."
"I think it went smoothly, or as smoothly as something like this can go," said Christine Zelaya, principal of Sycamore Trails Elementary School in Bartlett. "The communication between everyone involved was impressive."
More than 160 people took part in the exercise, including 52 from the police department, 25 from the fire department and 85 volunteers.