NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Valentine's Day 2018 in Parkland, Florida is a day that will that will go down in history as one of the world's deadliest school shootings.
Authorities say former student Nikolas Cruz entered the school near dismissal time carrying a duffel bag and a backpack. He later opened fired with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle firing at students and teachers, killing 17 and injuring 17 more.
It's a senseless tragedy New Hanover County Sheriff Ed McMahon understands could happen in the community he is charged with keeping safe.
"We train and prepare for the worst, but hope and pray it never happens," he said on Tuesday.
That training normally consists of combat style training every year, but after the Parkland incident, McMahon challenged his range deputies and senior staff to come up with something more realistic.
"We were able to get some new equipment out at our range and we wanted to do some live fire training, training that might freak out the School Resource Officers (SRO) and not give them any advance notice as to what was happening," he said.
Last week, all SROs who work within the school system went through this realistic training.
"When you look at an SRO, they are mentors, they are mom and dad figures, they are forming relationships, they are guardians, but in a moments notice they must change into a warrior mindset," he said.
During the training, the SROs heard the actual screams, hysteria, and panic from the Parkland shooting.
"These SROs need to be ready to go straight toward a threat, and eliminate the threat, no matter the distraction, and that is just what this training does, every single SRO that went through the training ran towards gunfire," he stated.
This new cutting edge training uses moving dummies, metal targets, a fake classroom and audio from real-life incidents. McMahon said he realizes this could offend parents or those in the community.
"Yes, it may be scary and it may be offensive, but we are using it to ensure those who care for your children respond properly without warning, in a crisis you are going to need a warrior mindset, and that's what we are training for," he explained.
More than 50 SROs in New Hanover County took part in the training.
In the aftermath of the Parkland shooting it was revealed that a School Resource Deputy of the Year waited outside as the alleged gunman targeted students and staff. That deputy resigned after the incident.