SULLIVAN, Mo. — The new reality in schools: How do administrators protect students and staff from active shooters?
A Sullivan, Missouri, company has made it its mission to arm school districts with protective tools that double as furniture or classroom equipment.
Paul Alexander is the founder and CEO of Executive Wood Products. He showed 5 On Your Side what is known in educational circles as a white board. The four-by-six-foot model is functional – half of it is covered in cushy material you can push thumb tacks into. But beneath the surface is National Institute of Justice level III rifle-defeating steel.
“We shot at it,” said Alexander. “You can see all the caliber weapons we shot it with – 40 caliber, 9 mm, AK-47, AR-15, Colt M16 – this is a machine gun.”
He spun the white board around. There is no evidence of the bullet holes on the other side.
“Nothing came through,” said Alexander. “When the projectile goes in, it will absorb the projectile. So, it goes in and hits the steel. The steel stops the projectile or the bullet. It’s completely safe. If a teacher steps behind the panel, a school shooter proceeds to shoot through it, thinking he’s going to shoot that person. Well, he can’t shoot through the panel because it’s completely anti-ballistic. He empties his magazine. And now, he’s no longer an active shooter.”
Alexander said his company does business all across the United States and in 45 other countries.
“I’m not going to tell you the names of any of the schools that buy our products because I don’t want anyone to know where they are,” he said. “I want them to be as innocuous as possible. I want the active shooter to think he can shoot through them, because that’s what saves lives.”
That gives schools the advantage.
Alexander also showed 5 On Your Side a scale model of a large, ballistics-reinforced dais or lectern.
“This is designed to go in the entrance to a building,” he said. “It provides a workstation for a school resource officer or a marshal in a courthouse.”
In another part of his factory, Alexander showed us a full-size bulletproof version of what appears to be a wooden lectern. It has several bullet holes in it.
“This is the first product we began manufacturing as anti-ballistic,” he said. “In a test, we shot it 47 times with an AK-47.”
He paused, referencing the bullet holes in the wooden facade.
“It never penetrated,” he said.