Police and deputies practice their child abduction search skill during a training exercise that last for more than four hours.
(WBIR - Knox County) Frantic screams filled the area near Rocky Hill Elementary School Wednesday afternoon as the the school's principals ran to rescue a young student. One moment he was on the playground playing with a ball. The next, taken by a stranger driving a white SUV.
It's wasn't an actual child abduction, only a large-scale test for the Knoxville Police Department and the Knox County Sheriff's Office.
"Having previous military experience, I know the value of having real-life training or as close to a true scenario as you can, so I'm always will to open the doors and help out the police department any way I can," said Cory Smith, principal of Rocky Elementary School.
Shortly after the mock abduction, investigators swarmed the elementary school to begin their investigation. The investigation took officers from Rocky Hill Elementary to Bearden High, where investigators were told the young child had been talking with someone on a social media site.
As the sun began to set, authorities were led to an area on Burleson Lane.
A law enforcement helicopter landed and SWAT team members surrounded a cabin. Meanwhile, a K-9 officer went on a hunt for the young boy in the nearby woods after they were told he had escaped.
While some authorities looked in the woods for the boy, other law enforcement officers focused a cabin they believed the kidnapper was inside.
The man playing the role of the kidnapper, Terry Bullman, is a local self defense instructor and a real life father.
"My son goes to a local elementary school and it makes me feel good that these guys are on top of it and they're doing everything they can to make sure they're ready if something like this happens," he said.
Four-and-a-half hours after the mock kidnapping, authorities arrested the man who snatched the young boy from the playground.
Knoxville police say the department has similar training exercises regularly.
"It's always important for us to train in order for us to prepared for the next critical incident, no matter what it is. And children are most important so we want to be well prepared for if a child comes up missing in the city of Knoxville," said Captain Nate Allen.