SWAT team practices with hostage situation

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - A gunman walked into The Peoples Bank and held employees hostage in Bay St. Louis. Commander of the Hancock County SWAT team Matt Karl described the nightmare that unfolded.

"There was some gunfire, and that's when the officer went down," Karl said. "This was the call that came in that they needed swat we got hostages possibly 15 to 20 hostages. We have to surround this building close in the inside; then we've got snipers on the outside. We got a group that takes in medic people to extract people that are wounded."

If it sounds like a Hollywood movie script, there's a good reason; all the events were scripted.

Karl said, "We try to set up something that is true to life."

The goal of the exercise was that if this nightmare ever came true the men and women of the Hancock County Sheriff's Department and the Bay St. Louis Police Department would be able to step in, take control and save the lives of those inside.

Vice President of The Peoples Bank Basil Kennedy said, "The SWAT team came in, it kind of took you back to see that many people with arms and everything else come in, and just take over the place and check everything out. They expect everybody was the bad guy," Kennedy said.

"Honestly, I think the people that were in play, you could see a little bit of nervousness on their face, especially when they came in and told them to put their heads on the ground and lay down and put their hands behind their back."

Both departments agreed Saturday's exercise was a success, but there were also a few glitches that need to be worked out.

Karl said, "Our bad guy in here, Ricky Fayard, is a former SWAT guy, and what he did, he made a hostage carry a hostage out. And by mistake, we figured it was a bad guy. And we gave the green light to shoot, and we shot the hostage."

The team will meet next week to discuss mistakes and learn from them, and the employees at the bank are now more confident.

"I found that you walk away with a pretty good idea of what's going to happen. Hopefully, you're never in that situation, but if you are in it, you are ready for it," Kennedy said.

"What I saw, it gave me goose bumps. You saw I got a little emotional here on the first part, I think, so I think we can handle it," Karl said.

The SWAT team will have another training in a few weeks. This time the scene will be played in a court room.

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