MURFREESBORO, TN (WSMV) - An active shooter training exercise at the Murfreesboro VA hospital seemed a little too real as it unfolded last week.

It was a “no-notice” training exercise, but the realism was ramped up because an actor portraying the shooter missed his entrance.

It happened Thursday morning during an executive meeting in a conference room at the Murfreesboro VA and it left some people unsettled for a few seconds. They thought it was a very real threat.

Imagine attending a meeting and you hear shots fired outside the conference room, just a few feet from where you are seated. A “fight or flight” instinct kicks into high gear.

“One guy was at the door to keep it closed. Eight or nine people yelled at once to lock the door. People were prepared to hide under the table,” said Jon Maggard, Chief of VA Police Services, who saw it all unfold.

It was a realistic drill, using blank bullets, but the actor portraying a shooter fired a gun prematurely before VA police could tell the 40 or so people in the room that it was an exercise.

"We had no intent of people not knowing we were doing an exercise, and we're sorry that people got emotional, upset, angry, and frightened. That was never our intent," said Maggard.

VA employees in Nashville, connected to the Murfreesboro conference, saw it unfold on a television screen.

VA facilities are under a mandate to conduct the drills at least once a year to keep the staff prepared for the real thing.

"One of the reasons is to assess the staff preparing for an actual threat, also to assess the ability to move forward in the loss of senior leadership," said Maggard.

Maggard said the drills are necessary and some changes will be made before the next drill is conducted.

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Anchor/Reporter

Alan Frio is the anchor of News4's evening newscasts on Saturdays and Sundays.

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