By Philippe Djegal - email
RUSK, TX (KLTV) - When David Arroyo opened fire in front of the Smith County Courthouse in 2005, it served as a grim reminder of the danger law enforcement faces every day. Today, to make sure they're prepared for the worst, the Cherokee County SWAT team simulated a mock hostage situation at the county courthouse.
The downtown square in Rusk was on lockdown. A hostage situation was reported to the Cherokee County Sheriff, and the SWAT team is called to action.
Snipers take the roof, covering their guys on the ground. The team was communicating often without words. Their guns were raised, and thir eyes were wide open. A gunman has taken everyone in the third floor courtroom hostage.
The SWAT team, floor by floor, room by room, clears the courthouse, identifying the good guys and leading them to safety.
"You can't substitute law enforcement as your bad guys and your victims," said Chris White, a Captain for the Cherokee County Sheriff's Department. "That's why we requested some of family and volunteers to come up to the courthouse and help us today."
12 men and women make up the SWAT team, and they are all dedicated to the safety of the citizens of Cherokee County. This may be a drill, but, they don't treat it that way. For them, this is the real deal.
When they reach the courtroom, the hostages are identified and led to safety. The gunman is in custody, and not one casualty reported.
"Obviously, the situation happened in Smith County was a contributing factor for the realization that this type of trainings neccessary," said White.
"We live in a changing world and sometimes the changes are not for the best," said james Campbell, Cherokee County Sheriff. "Crime is creeping up everywhere."
"Hopefully, we'll never need to utilize any of the lessons that we've learned here," said White. "But we felt like we needed to be prepared nonetheless."
All of the hostages were played by friends and family of the SWAT team. And, again, no one was injured or arrested. This was simply a training session for the Cherokee County Sheriff's SWAT team.