‘This is war’: Active-shooter training in Carson gives police reservists the feel of the real deal
You could practically see the adrenaline pumping through Matt Cannizzaro.
He was bouncing from foot to foot during the debriefing, each nod and answer a little too hyped for normal conversation. He had, after all, just shot two people.
Cannizzaro, 29, of Dayton, was using plastic pellets shot from an Airsoft handgun, but the effect was the same on the Carson City sheriff’s reservist.
“I was pretty hopped up, definitely,” he said, walking back from an overall glowing review for how he handled being the sole responder to an active-shooter situation.
Cannizzaro, a five-year veteran, was one of dozens of reservists from Northern Nevada sheriff’s departments and the University of Nevada, Reno Police Department in Carson City on Saturday, training for active-shooter situations. Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong kicked off a morning session, telling them about a “routine” search and rescue for a child some years back. The kid was found burned to death.
“Things go bad,” Furlong told the group. “And the more things go good, sometimes you can lose your steps.”
He reminded them of recent shootings, including the fight this year outside Toads bar and the Sept. 6 massacre at IHOP.
“This is war,” Deputy Bob Guimont told the group after they watched a video of surveillance footage and listened to 911 calls from the IHOP shooting. “Something like this? It’s your responsibility to get out there and stop this.”
The training Saturday was geared toward making the reserve deputies more proficient at clearing rooms – even if it means stepping over victims – and ultimately stopping the shooter.
Sgt. Mike Cullen, with Carson City sheriff’s, said they aimed to make the training as realistic as possible, including mock victims with gory bullet wounds to the neck. But they also can’t recreate the stench of blood and bodily fluids and the overall torment in the air that can make even police veterans freeze.
It was a point UNRPD that Officer Andrew Cardinal and most other speakers and instructors drilled home.
“You’re going to be stepping over little kids that are dead,” he said. “You’re going to be stepping over the mom and you need to get over it and get in there and kill that guy because he’s killing people and committing homicide. You need to stop that.”
They worked their training at the abandoned Kinkead Building, 505 E. King St., where lights in one stairwell didn’t work, glass was shattered and several walls had holes that acted as windows into the rooms. One exercise involved reservists sprinting from one side of the building, through bright and dim rooms, to take a 1-second peek inside a room bathed in natural light. They then needed to describe what they saw – was it five people, or six people? How many were armed? Was anyone dead?
“I didn’t know what to expect,” Douglas County reserve deputy Blaine Spires said. “I get to one room and they’re all yelling and (I ask) ‘is this the room where I need to remember everything?'”
It wasn’t, and they shoved him through another room where he had his quick peek.
Spires, a social studies teacher at Silver State Charter School in Carson City, jumped into the training despite having five screws in his foot from a jet ski accident. Aside from being active, Spires called it good training.
“I’m a teacher, and these are the same scenarios that other schools have had to deal with,” he said.
It was training that reserve deputy Cannizzaro praised also – even if every scenario jumps at him in a different way.
“My training has definitely helped,” he said, the adrenaline having barely subsided. “I can control it better.”