Oregon Teacher Sues School District for Trauma Caused by Active Shooter Drill

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Published on: April 25, 2015

Two years ago, Linda McLean, a teacher at Pine Eagle Charter School in Halfway, Oregon, was sitting at her desk when a man dressed in a black hoodie and goggles suddenly burst into her classroom.

The man pointed a gun at McLean’s face and pulled the trigger.

McLean heard gunfire and smelled smoke, and felt her heart racing.

The gunman said, “You’re dead” and left the room.


If this sounds like a scene from a typical school shooting, there’s a reason: it was an “active shooter drill” conducted during an in-service day at the school.

McLean was alive, but not okay. Not one bit.

The drill was conducted just four months after the Sandy Hook incident, and teachers were not warned that it was going to happen.

Shawn Thatcher, the school district’s “safety” officer, was the “shooter.” His weapon fired blanks at McLean, but the experience of having a gun shoved in her face and “fired” has left her with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The events of that day are disturbing. Thankfully, the idiots people who planned this “event” were smart enough to do it on a day when students were not at school because the trauma it caused the teachers was bad enough.

Members of the school district’s “Safety Committee” notified the Baker County Sheriff’s office and 911 dispatch center in advance so they wouldn’t respond in case any of the school staff placed an emergency call.

The sheriff’s office also reviewed concealed-carry permits prior to the drill to make sure that none of the teachers would fire back at Thatcher and John Minarich, the vice chair of the district’s school board, who also played an armed shooter (and incidentally, is the owner of Alpine Alarm, which sold, constructed, installed, and maintained the school’s security system).

McLean has filed a federal lawsuit that accuses the school district’s safety officer, school administrators, and seven members of the school board of civil assault, emotional distress, false imprisonment, failing to protect her and supervise the staff, and depriving her of liberty without due process, reports the Oregonian:

Thatcher and Minarich are accused of storming into several schoolrooms that day pointing their weapons at surprised teachers, firing blanks, and declaring them dead.

“Panic ensued,” according to McLean’s lawsuit. One teacher wet her pants. Another teacher tried to keep Minarich from entering his room and scuffled with the school board member, leaving the teacher’s arm injured. Some teachers fell down trying to hide.

“McLean could not figure out what was going on,” the complaint alleges. “She felt very confused. Her heart was racing. She walked out of the classroom and saw a pistol lying on the ground…She wondered if she was really shot and was going to die.”

For an instant, McLean alleges, she thought perhaps it was OK to die. Then she thought about her daughter, who was pregnant, and grew angry that she wouldn’t be around to help with the new baby.

“She looked at the pistol and wondered if she was supposed to pick it up and shoot someone,” the lawsuit alleges.

After the drill, teachers gathered in the school library, where they were greeted by a sheriff’s deputy with a police dog. The lawsuit alleges that the teachers were angry and confused, and some questioned Thatcher, Minarich, and school administrator Cammie deCastro about their “disregard” for the staff’s safety.

McLean is 56 and has worked for the school district since 1982. Her physicians have diagnosed her with post-traumatic stress disorder. She is seeking economic damages for her involuntary separation from employment, her medical and psychological treatment, and the loss of retirement contributions and fringe benefits. She also seeks punitive damages and attorney fees.


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