NC Middle School Terrifies Kids with a Masked Gunman

By: Erika Watts - October 17, 2013

Imagine that you send your kid to school one day, only to hear that a masked man wielding a gun showed up. You’d assume the worst, right? After all, stories where people take guns into schools never end well. While such a situation happened at a Wayne County, NC school on Friday, no one was harmed–the mask was real, but the gun was fake and was being used to teach the sixth graders at Eastern Wayne Middle School a “lesson.”

Apparently at a middle school in Wayne County, some employees think that getting a masked man with a gun to rob students is an appropriate way to teach them how to be aware of their surroundings. While some parents might think that’s an extreme way to teach kids a lesson, but not be too upset with it as long as they had a chance to opt their kids in or out, parents of Eastern Wayne Middle School students never had such an opportunity. Parents didn’t learn of the training exercise until after it was conducted.

The school received quite a few phone calls from ticked off parents, which prompted school officials to send out a letter explaining the situation on Monday. The letter explains that the masked man with a toy gun was part of an “enrichment lesson on exhibiting good citizenship.” The letter goes on to say that after a staff member entered all of the sixth grade classrooms and pretended to rob them, their teachers explained that it was all play-acting.


School official Ken Derksen says that the exercise lacked sensitivity and admits that maybe having a masked man with a gun scare kids wasn’t the best way to teach the lesson. “It obviously did lack that sensitivity that was needed…all of our schools work very hard to promote a safe learning environment…in this situation, the exercise in its original intent was appropriate, but in how it was executed it obviously lacked judgment,” said Derksen, who is a Public Information Officer with the Wayne County Public Schools.

Would you be outraged if your child were part of such a training exercise? Respond below.

One parent of a child who has already graduated says that he thinks parents have “every right to be upset.” “I think after Sandy Hook less than a year ago and countless school shootings in recent years, it is quite understandable if these sixth graders were traumatized by the sight of a paid fake masked gunman entering the school,” said Clint Belue. “I think the parents have every right to be upset particularly since they had no knowledge beforehand about the paid fake gunman. Parents send their kids to school to learn, not to be terrorized by a paid fake gunman.”

So far no action has been taken against the staff member who decided to dress as a masked gunman and scare the kids, but officials are looking into the situation to decide whether it warrants the person being suspended.

Main image via WikiMedia Commons; Letter image via ABC11

Erika Watts

About the Author

Erika WattsErika Watts is a former teacher, now stay-at-home-mom and contributing writer for WebProNews. When she isn’t busy navigating parenthood and writing, she enjoys watching college sports and reading. Follow Erika on Twitter @erikawatts83, Pinterest or

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  • JD

    Nothing wrong with that drill, kids gotta learn. I do something similar with my own family, only way to prepare them. If more kids new how to react there would be less deaths when that does happen.

  • Wow

    Way to go America…. you try say you want to protect kids from the harm and anguish of a situation like this …. then you do it to them anyway. The kids still suffered the mental anguish of the event. “Enrichment lesson on exhibiting good citizenship.” Who are we kidding? Politically correct BS yet again.

    We are in a collective panic about these things in this country. We overreact like we do about everything. These types of incidents are really very very very rare and you cannot really prevent them.

    Ever since 9/11, the United States has nurtured a culture of fear. It is all about fear, fear, fear, fear. How do you enslave a population — you make them afraid of their shadows and say you will protect them.

    Live your lives America — don’t purposely scare your kids to death — trust in Christ. When it is your time to go, it is your time to go. You won’t live a second longer no matter what you do. Don’t give up everything you are because you are afraid.

  • Prepared

    Nothing wrong with that? You are a complete idiot JD.

  • Prepared

    Nothing wrong with that? Then you are the problem and not part of the solution. I wonder about your kid’s future with parenting like that.

  • http://Yahoo Don Karcher

    In our area there wold be a risk that some protective parents would simulate taking out the simulated gunman.

    • Texas TopCat

      Yes, not a recommended exercise unless all of the adults know in advance. We are finally seeing some of the schools that have protection for the students and allow teachers and staff to CC.

  • Reality

    I think we panic way too much in this nation. We are so afraid. We like to say we are the home of the brave but we are not. We are always doing something stupid out of fear. We will traumatize our children just to protect them from being traumatized.

    The world is not much more violent than it has always been. There is just a) more people now and b) social media that reports everything over and over again about the most sensationalized stories.

    We have totally changed our way of life because of fear. The funny thing is that we have become worse off because of it. In order to protect ourselves from things falling apart we created a situation where everything is falling apart.

  • Texas TopCat

    Seems like a very reasonable exercise. A lesson that students should remember, especially if the parents not insist that the teachers and staff be armed.