Physical Security & Emergency Management
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Another Active Shooting Claims More Innocent Victims
On Wednesday, August 26, 2015, the untimely and brutal murders of 24 year old reporter Alison Parker and 27 year old photographer Adam Ward in Roanoke, VA is a stark reminder that an active shooting is an all too frequent tragedy that can claim the lives of both young and old alike without regard to education, personality, nationality, sex or race. In reality an active shooting is not a big city problem or bound to one specific region of the country, but a national problem that impacts every state with a total disregard for humanity or the impact that such a tragic event will have on the victim’s families, friends and the community for years to come.
After each active shooting academia, profilers, attorneys, law enforcement investigators and the medical profession attempt to find commonalities and pre-indicators in the hopes to identify, qualify and isolate potential active shooters prior to any attack. As a society we want to know who the shooter may be before another memorial is broadcast on the nightly news. Unfortunately, this is a difficult task and not one that will positively identify an active shooter. Let’s compare a few recent shootings by considering the following points.
First, an active shooter can hold hatred and revenge inside for years before lashing out in an active shooting. In the Roanoke attack the shooter has been mentally planning for this attack for over two years after being released from the television station and the shooter purchased the weapon approximately two months prior to the attack. The Lafayette, LA theater shooter purchased his weapon almost one year prior, but what was the nexus between the shooter and the movie theater? That question is still under investigation.
Second, the active shooter is not limited to a specific time or even time frame to carry out their deadly attack. The Roanoke shooting took place at 6:45am, while the shooting inside the Emanuel African Methodist Church took place at approximately 9:05 pm, the theater shooting in Lafayette, LA occurred at approximately 7:30pm, and the shooting of the U.S. Marine Corps recruiting center in Chattanooga, TN began at approximately 10:45am. A time frame cannot be predicted prior to the shooting.
Third, the active shooter can select the exact moment they decide to carry out their deadly attack. In both the theater and church shootings the attacker entered the premises and waited over twenty minutes before shooting. The only individual who knows when the shooting will commence is the shooter themselves or if the active shooter is conducting a dry run before the actual deadly rampage.
Fourth, the active shooter was dismissed from the television station approximately two years earlier. Both Alison Parker and Adam Ward had been working together for almost one year. Adam Ward was employed at the television station during the time period that the shooter worked there, but Alison Parker’s employment did not overlap with the shooters. She never met the shooter or worked with him. Ask yourself these questions: “How long should a company be concerned about a former employee? When does a company stop briefing new employees about this individual? Does the company share pictures of the former employee with new employees or just talk about the individual?”
Fifth, the murder of the news team represented a symbolic attack against employees of his former employer and in reality the victims may have been any one who worked at the television station. That said, the shooter in both the church shooting and theater shooting never worked at the theater or was a member of the congregation, and may not have had any prior contact prior to the attack.
Sixth, several active shooters have authored manifestos, suicide notes and even developed videos to explain their actions, but will it be a new wrinkle to actually video tape the attack and then broadcast it across social media, just as this shooter did in Virginia? This chilling perspective of videotaping an attack on innocent victims should not be sensationalized or rebroadcast in any way, shape or form.
In the book Active Shooter: Preparing for and Responding to a Growing Threat (2015), my co-author and I explore in the book active shooters from multiple angles and processes, but with the ultimate goal in the preservation of life by identifying actions, duties, and responsibilities to protect themselves, co-workers and guests or customers. Just as a teacher has a duty to protect each student and a nurse has a responsibility to safeguard each patient, a business owner has a responsibility to protect each employee and customer who are thrust into an active shooting.
The author C. David Shepherd, MBA, MPAJA, CHS-III has more than 45 years’ experience in security, law enforcement, counter-terrorism, risk management, crisis management and active shooting. His expertise includes military, private security, law enforcement and SWAT, as well as a former criminal justice adjunct professor and co-chairman of resorts under the Commercial Facilities Sector Coordinating Council (CFSCC). www.activeshootertest.com
To purchase a copy of his book, Active Shooter: Preparing for and Responding to a Growing Threat, visit the Elsevier Store. Apply discount code STC215 and save up to 30% off the list price and free shipping.
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