VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) --Thursday, more than 650 Tulare County employees took part in a drill that shut the courthouse down for half of the day. Some of the employees came out of the courthouse with their hands up, while a few were wheeled out on stretchers.
For anyone who didn't know what was happening at the courthouse, it may have been an alarming site.
"They reacted so quickly, tactical situations were set up, they took good cover, and the training was very realistic," said Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux.
But it was just a drill. And after it was all over, Tulare County officials were proud to say that the Visalia courthouse was the first in the state to participate in a full-scale, combined agency active shooter exercise.
"Justice is not accessible if our courthouses are not safe," said California Judicial Council Security Coordinator Nick Barsetti. "So the goal of today and all of the partners working today are to ensure that our courthouses are safe places, where justice is accessible."
The simulation involved a disgruntled courts employee who had access to the building. Once he got inside, he shot six people, including one fatally. Boudreaux says the shooter was then shot to death by his deputies.
The exercise involved plastic guns and only sounds of gunfire and was a reminder for county employees of what to do if this were a real situation. Sheriff Boudreaux said their only options are to run, hide, and fight.
"But when run and hide fail, find that courage down deep to fight against a perpetrator," Boudreaux said.
Many people looking to handle court business were turned away on the sidewalk. But officials say the drill was a success.
They recorded the exercise, and will review the footage. In addition, they say the hundreds who participated will give feedback through face-to-face meetings and surveys.
Officials say the courthouse will reopen again tomorrow morning.