Buna ISD Police Chief Fired After Unannounced School Intruder Drill

An SRO dressed in camouflage with his face covered ran around the school attempting to break in through doors and windows.

Buna ISD Police Chief Fired After Unannounced School Intruder Drill

BUNA, Texas — The police chief at a Southeast Texas school district was fired days after a school resource officer (SRO) dressed as an intruder during an unannounced safety drill last month.

After 21 years of service, Buna ISD Superintendent Donny Lee confirmed Mark McKinley was “let go” two days after the drill at Buna Elementary, reports 12 News.

“We’ve done these drills before but with one critical piece included and that’s the communication piece,” he said.

According to Lee, the principal called 911 and Jasper County Sheriff’s Office deputies rushed to the school on high alert believing there was an actual intruder at the school. An SRO dressed in camouflage with his face covered and ran around the school, trying to break in through doors and windows.

Deputies arrived with guns drawn but quickly realized that the “intruder” was the SRO, according to KJAS.

“They could have easily been shot and killed by one of our guys, and that’s after we risked our lives driving as fast as these patrol cars can go just to get there,” said JCSO Chief Deputy Scotty Duncan. “If it’s a real situation, yeah we’ll risk killing ourselves wrapping a patrol car around a pine tree to protect a child, but doing this without notifying anyone that it was just a drill, that doesn’t work.”

Lee said no central office administrators or principals were notified of the drill, nor was JCSO.

“The drill was planned by a JH staff member and our two officers. Our new school resource officer did his job as instructed, but a breakdown in critical communication took place and that is unacceptable in a school district. Especially when it involves our most vulnerable children,” he wrote in a statement.

Officer Michael Henderson, who dressed as the armed intruder, has been cleared of wrongdoing in the incident as he had only been on the job for five days. Lee said he’ll keep his job and is currently acting as interim chief while the district conducts a search for a replacement, according to The Beaumont Enterprise.

Earlier this year, Everytown for Gun Safety (Everytown), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and the National Education Association (NEA) released a whitepaper discussing the “detrimental impact of school safety drills for active shootings, as well as considerations and recommendations for schools that decide to include students in these exercises.”

If schools choose to include students in these drills, the whitepaper recommends taking these six steps to protect students’ well-being.

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Amy is Campus Safety’s Senior Editor. Prior to joining the editorial team in 2017, she worked in both events and digital marketing.

Amy’s mother, brother, sister-in-law and a handful of cousins are teachers, motivating her to learn and share as much as she can about campus security. She has a minor in education and has worked with children in several capacities, further deepening her passion for keeping students safe.

In her free time, Amy enjoys exploring the outdoors with her husband, her son and her dog.

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