“There was no intent to represent any particular culture or religion,” the Penn-Trafford School District said in a statement following backlash over a video of an active shooting drill at a Pennsylvania school. The video features an actor portraying an active shooter dressed in a Middle Eastern-style headdress.
The video, made in January, was only intended for internal training purposes. It shows an actor abruptly entering a classroom and firing a shot, followed by a loud scream and students ducking their heads. Once police officers catch him, there’s a clear view of him wearing a headdress with his hands up.
The district said the costumes were used to hide the identity of the shooter so co-workers wouldn’t know who the teacher volunteers were in the shooter simulation. “The individual wore a long blonde wig with a scarf tied around his head and a paintball/tactical mask over his face. He was dressed in a dark zip-up sweatshirt and dark pants,” the district said.
Like many parents and community members, students wondered why the shooter had to be in costume in the first place. “Like, you could have used anyone. You didn’t have to dress him up,” Trinity Garbacz told CBS news station KDKA.
A petition has been created, calling on the school district, the police department, and the people involved in the training video to apologize to students and members of the community. The Voice of Westmoreland petition states, “We are disappointed that Penn-Trafford School District would choose to conduct an active shooter drill where the shooter was portrayed as a man of Middle Eastern descent.”
The video has since been deleted, as the school district insists it was only meant for internal use and not to be seen by the general public.