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Teacher Sues Oregon School District for Traumatic Active-Shooter Drill

The teacher said in a that she has suffered from PTSD as a result of the unexpected incident, and hasn't been able to set foot in school since.
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/ Source: NBC News

When a goggle-wearing gunman burst into her classroom two years ago, teacher Linda McLean wondered if she was going to die.

She remembered her grandchildren and the one on the way.

That’s when she noticed a pistol on the floor outside her classroom and wondered if she should pick it up and go after the man in black who had just pointed a gun in her face, pulled the trigger and told her she was dead.

But she wasn't dead. She wasn't even bleeding. And a short time later, McLean, 56, and other teachers were gathered in the library of their Oregon elementary school, being debriefed on how they reacted.

That is McLean's version of what happened during a simulated school shooting at Pine Eagle Charter School in Halfway, Oregon, in April 2013, according to a newly filed federal lawsuit.

Yet she was never warned that it was a just drill — one that came just four months after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut — the suit claims.

Citing emotional distress, McLean is suing the school district, the principal, several members of the school board and Alpine Alarm Communications and Construction LLC.

Alpine constructed, installed and maintained the school's security system, according to Oregon Live. McLean is also suing the man she says pointed the gun in her face — Shawn Thatcher, who happened to be the school's safety supervisor.

The teacher, who had worked at the school more than three decades, says she has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and has not been able to set foot back in the school since the incident.

She also says she has been ostracized in the small community of 288 people for speaking out about what happened.

Now she's seeking lost wages, medical costs and punitive damages. The suit was filed Friday in federal court in Portland.

And McLean claims she's not the only one that was traumatized by the drill: One teacher wet herself, and another hurt his arm trying to keep one of the “gunmen” out of his classroom, according to the lawsuit.

John Minarich, the vice chair of the district’s school board and the owner of Alpine Alarms, was also stalking the hallways that day with an unloaded gun, the suit says.

McLean and her lawyer did not immediately return a call from NBC News.

Emails to each defendant still employed at Pine Eagle Charter School went unanswered Tuesday.

William Johnson, a defendant and former school board member, said he couldn’t immediately talk. Kelly Dennis, a secretary at the school, told NBC News that the school has been advised not to comment on the pending litigation.

Image: Halfway, Oregon
Halfway, a small town located in eastern Oregon.Richard Cockle / The Oregonian