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Westfield Annapolis Mall holds active shooter drill

Monday - 5/19/2014, 1:21am  ET

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Waiting to go inside to observe AACO active shooter drill at Westfield Mall. (WTOP/Jamie Forzato)
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- "Exercise. Exercise. Exercise. This is an exercise." Radio dispatch signals the drill to begin. "Respond to Annapolis mall for a reported shooting in progress. We're receiving multiple calls that a suspect is in the mall shooting people and multiple people have been shot. Fire is in route."

A gunman standing in front of the Build-a-Bear Workshop carrying a backpack and a handgun turns and fires in all directions. Eight blanks. One woman falls, pretending to be hit.

Tense moments inside the Westfield Annapolis Mall made the situation feel real, but it was just a test. Anne Arundel County emergency officials held an "active shooter" simulation Sunday morning as a training exercise for the police and fire departments.

"We will perform in the event of an actual emergency scenario as we prepare. Or to use a sports analogy, we play like we practice," says Police Chief Kevin Davis.

The exercise was planned before the January shooting at the Mall in Columbia but they have used that tragedy to improve their crisis response. "A lot of what is going into today's scenario is taken right from lessons learned by Howard County Police Department ... One of the new things we're testing today is our effective us of social media in the event of a real emergency. That's one of the things that Howard County did really, really well," Davis says.

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