The Greatest Stupid Of All? When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring? KABOOM!? The Omaha Active Shooter Simulation

I couldn’t decide what to call this story out of Omaha, Nebraska, but it it did make my head explode.

Catholic Charities of Omaha Executive Director Denise Bartels thought, if you can call it thinking, that an unannounced active shooter drill was a peachy keen idea, and that five days after the Buffalo supermarket shooting in May was the perfect time to stage it.

Yes, she’s a moron. So were Catholic Charities’ compliance coordinator, Carrie Walter and Security Director Mike Welna who also approved this crack-brained scheme that was so obviously irresponsible and dangerous that a child could have figured out that it shouldn’t happen. Unfortunately, no children were employed in the organization’s management, only stupid adults.

They had no concept how to go about organizing such a training exercise, so had hired John Channels (above) a self-described “citizen police officer” who claimed to have planned similar simulations for other organizations. (The fact that he also was an alleged abuser of young women and a child pornographer isn’t really relevant, except that it does call his expert judgment into question as well as Catholic Charities vetting procedures.) Channels’ proposed active shooter drill would feature a man in a hoodie firing blanks and “victims” lying on the ground with with fakewounds. And, of course, Catholic Charities’ managers wouldn’t tell any of their employees it was going to happen, so they would be scared out of their wits. Channels planned to start by shooting fake victims outside of the office windows and doors so employees could see the carnage, then make his way through the building (with keys provided by staff) hoping to cause employees to flee or hide.

Gee what a good plan….

The drill took place, everyone was freaked out, and now Channels has been charged with five counts of making terroristic threats and one count of “weapon use.” As for the management of the Catholic Charities, I assume they will be getting pink slips, but in the meantime employees are bringing lawsuits for the intentional infliction of emotional distress. Some employees still haven’t returned to work more than three months later because of PTSD.

In my screenplay, one of the terrified employees snaps and decides to shoot up management for real as revenge. They just laugh in his face, assuming that he’s faking it just like their stunt, and he blows them all away. Quentin Tarantino directs.

15 thoughts on “The Greatest Stupid Of All? When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring? KABOOM!? The Omaha Active Shooter Simulation

  1. No chance Alex, there would have been a ‘Gun Free Zone’ sign on the door for sure.

    To quote Capt. Kirk; “Double dumb ass to you!”.

  2. Evidently some people are missing basic competence with strategy mindset. Strategy deals with contingencies and fortifies paths by asking key questions like, “What unintended bad things might happen to make this exercise not go as planned?” and, “What unintended bad things might happen even if it goes exactly as planned?”

    If any of these people had watched SpongeBob Squarepants they would have already known this unannounced “drill” was a bad idea. Yes, a literal children’s cartoon is smarter than these people, particularly the one who claims to have set up similar drills multiple times. (Well, the first few seasons of the show are, anyway.)

    Humorous excerpt follows:

    In the Hall Monitor episode, SpongeBob is going around in a Hall Monitor(!) uniform and fancies himself responsible for the safety of everyone in town.

    Then he does this:

    Video recap:

    SpongeBob spots a couple eating dinner in their house, with the window open. “The fools–they’ve left themselves susceptible to danger! I must show them the error of their ways–through example!”

    Cue SpongeBob in a balaclava somersaulting through the window and landing on their table, standing in two bowls of soup. “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh! Aaaaaaaahhhh, I’m the Open Window Maniac!”

    The couple runs out of the house, screaming. SpongeBob calls after them, “I hope you learned a valuable lesson!”


    The police are after him for the rest of the episode, but he doesn’t realize it until the end.

      • Oh, that is a comedy masterpiece. And just as with the “active shooter drill”, Dwight’s scheme was not harmless. Even aside from the seriousness that is Stanley’s heart attack, that smoke was also a health hazard. “There is no fire,” indeed! Technically there was, and burning isn’t the only way that fires kill people.

  3. What a wild May this man has led. How did a man charged with three felonies related to a illicit relationship with a minor even possess the weapons needed for such a “training” stunt? Well, he wasn’t arrested and charged with those felonies until May 27th, a week later.

    Too bad they didn’t arrest him sooner. Or did this failed stunt accelerate his warrant?

  4. While such idiotic stunts actually occurring are rare, you might be surprised how often organizations consider conducting such “training,” at least to the point of contacting their local law enforcement agencies about it. My crime-prevention lunit conducted workplace violence prevention training for a variety of businesses, industries and non-profits, and it was surprising how often this idea was raised by seemingly sensible people. Of course, once we pointed out the obvious potential for myriad disastrous unintended consequences, the matter was always quickly dropped with, “Oh yeah, we didn’t think about that.” Obviously! Baffling.

      • I knew I had written about one of these before. This is worse because of the context: the Parkland shooting magnified the fear and hysteria approach of anti-gun activists to the nth degree. Also, this one was held in close proximity to a highly publicized mass shooting, when it would be on everyone’s mind. I also assumed, stupidly, that the outrage about the faked shooting in 2014 would have precluded some idiots doing it again.

      • Faked active shooting drills are so far down on my negative association prior to this that it’s hard for anything to move it lower. I think this just didn’t seem that much worse to me, but you are correct

        I’m dreading the day someone pretending to be an active shooter for a drill like this (which are still happening in places unless I’m misreading google’s results badly) gets killed by someone acting in self defense. I expect it, and for the person who kills them to get fired for not following procedures which say to run and hide first. I was pleasantly surprised when the active shooter meetings we got here included fighting back as a valid option, even though it was the third choice.

  5. Any church that continues to teach the archaic belief that the communion host is in fact the magically transformed body of Christ, and that one should never chew it because who would want to chew up Jesus (!), is so far out of touch that its most recent debacle should be no surprise.

    Victims should sue for huge amounts, and the Church can afford it. I googled this and on a business/secular site — sponsored by the Roman Catholic Church — found the following:

    “The Catholic church is the biggest financial power, wealth accumulator and property owner in existence. She is a greater possessor of material riches than any other single institution, corporation, bank, giant trust, government or state of the whole globe.”

    So go get ’em. Make them pay for their incredible, historical, and maniacal decision-making. (I won’t touch the role of the Vatican during the Holocaust and WWII, because this is well know but rarely discussed, though it should be.)

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