Officials from the Methuen school conducted a test on Tuesday for a new technology system that could identify a gunman in the building. This is the first such system installed in a school in the U.S.
The test consisted of a man entering the school armed with a rifle and opening fire with blanks. He first opened fire in the school library then went on to fire in the classrooms and hallways. The gunman only had a few minutes to do so.
Sensors as small as smoke-alarms installed in the hallways, classrooms and other places in the school were able to detect the man. The sensors were activated by the sound of gunfire and authorities quickly tracked the man’s movements and overpowered him.
Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon said The Guardian Indoor Gunshot Detection system is able to notify the police precisely where the shooter is located, his movements in the building and exactly how many shots were fired.
Chief executive officer of Shooter Detection Systems, the company that build the Guardian, Christian Connors said the test showed how numerous lives could have been saved, automatically initiating a lockdown and the evacuation of people in the building.
Over the summer, Methuen started installing the Guardian. The system uses microphones that are able to record noises and voices the moment shots are being fired. This allows officials to track down exactly the shooter’s whereabouts.
Shooter Detection Systems installed the brand new technology for free. Connors said they are installing two more systems in schools from California and Virginia, as well as airports. He said the technology is based on systems used by the military that allow them to determine where enemy fire is coming from. Depending on the structure and size of the building where the system is being implemented it costs from $20,000 to $100.000.
Police Chief Joseph Solomon believes these kinds of systems should be mandatory in numerous public buildings exactly the same way smoke detectors and fire suppression systems are. He said he’s amazed by the power of the technology and of the amount of time it takes from identifying that a shot was fired to the message being sent.
“It changes the whole game. Without that shot detection system, we wouldn’t know what was going on in the school … Valuable, valuable time can be lost. Unfortunately, with school crisis situations, it’s about mitigating loss.”
Other companies and schools across the U.S. are also implementing similar systems.