PETERSBURG, Va. – Law enforcement officers could be seen entering the back of Southside Regional Medical Center early Tuesday morning.
As a safety precaution, just before they entered, they exchanged their real guns for fake guns with orange tips.
They were looking for a gunman. Seconds later, a shot rang out and two officers continued to advance, as more officers arrived on scene.
"I see him," yelled the Petersburg Police Officer.
Another yelled back, "give me a description".
As they entered, the first two officers spotted a woman dead, underneath a pickup truck. Then, as they advanced further, they found a woman screaming, her with a gunshot wound to the leg.
In a normal situation they'd stop to help, but with an active shooter, that's not the case.
"It's a little heart-wrenching even in training," said Corporal Roosevelt Harris. “You think about your loved ones however you know that if you stop, that suspect is going to continue to do more harm.”
About a dozen officers entered the back of SRMC while medical teams of firefighters and paramedics staged at a safe distance.
It's taken almost a year to get to this point, with intense planning every step of the way, officials said. There were multiple agency's involved, including Southside Regional Medical Center, Petersburg Police, Petersburg Fire and Southside Virginia Emergency Crew.
Outside agencies were invited to observe, including Chesterfield County Police and Virginia State Police.
The reason behind the months of long planning was very important.
"This is what's going on, throughout the nation and we need the training just as much as everybody else and to be prepared,” said Lt. Greg Geist with Petersburg Police.
In training like this mistakes that are made can be corrected, in case an event occurred.
"It gets everybody to think differently and how to respond and how to act in different situations" Lt. Geist said.
Tracey Lee, with Southside Regional Medical Center, said the exercise exposed several points of focus for the participating agencies.
“But that's what training is for,” she said.
Lee also said the exercise was very intense and many observers learned some vital lessons, including that it takes time to clear a building and that there is a delay in getting all the first responder's on scene.