- A Nebraska man hired by a charity to simulate a mass shooting was charged with terroristic threats.
- The Omaha World-Herald reported John Channels was advised to make the drill realistic.
- The simulation caused chaos among employees who thought the drill was real.
A Nebraska man hired by a local charity to simulate a mass shooting has been charged with making terroristic threats.
The Omaha World-Herald reported that John Channels was advised by Catholic Charities, an organization with branches across the US, to make the drill realistic — which he did, complete with paid actors covered in blood.
Unfortunately, the simulation caused chaos among employees who thought the shooting was real. The news outlet reported that bloodied actors laid in hallways throughout the office building. One employee told the World-Herald she heard shots behind her and jumped off a retaining wall to try and hide in a dumpster.
The incident, which occurred on May 19, 2022, began with Channels firing at a conference room window of the office building in which employees happened to be gathered, according to the news outlet.
One elderly employee told police she thought she was going to die. “This is it,” she told the World-Herald.
Channels’ lawyer, Erin Wetzel, told the publication that Catholic Charities requested the 27-year-old conduct the drill in that specific manner. “It’s important to note that several of (the directors) went along with it, and while it was happening, they were not informing employees of what was going on, even as they were asking,” Wetzel said.
Omaha Catholic Charities’ executive director, Denise Bartels, said in a statement that the group hired Channels “based upon recommendations from respected sources, and he clearly misrepresented himself and his qualifications.”
Channels’ LinkedIn page states he’s a police officer for the Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska and that he’s also the CEO of a security firm called Exousia Protection Agency. Neither organization responded to Insider’s requests for comment.
The Daily Beast reported law enforcement said they weren’t alerted to the drill and responded as if it were an active crime scene. Don Kleine, the attorney for Douglas County told the news outlet that “police came, they didn’t know this was happening. They thought it was a real active shooter. There were people calling 911.”
Local news station KMTV reported that Channels identified himself to police as an Offutt Civilian Police Officer.
On Tuesday, Channels was arrested and charged with five counts of making terroristic threats and one weapons count, according to the World-Herald.
This isn’t Channels’ only run-in with the law. In May, he was arrested and charged with three felonies which included first-degree sexual assault of a child, visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct of a child, and attempted intentional child abuse. It’s unclear if the charity knew of his prior charges.
Catholic Charities, Erin Wetzel, the Douglas County Attorney’s Office, and the Omaha police department did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.