On 8 January 2011, Jared Lee Loughner reportedly shot U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords in the head during her constituent meeting outside a Safeway grocery store in Tucson, Arizona. Loughner, using a Glock Model 19 9mm handgun with extended magazine, allegedly shot 18 additional individuals, resulting in six dead, including Federal Judge John Roll, and 12 wounded. Loughner was captured and arrested at the scene. Giffords apparently did not have a Security Director on her staff and rarely used any security or police assistance for that matter even though she has had credible threats and acts of violence towards her in the past. Why? On 9 January, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a federal complaint charging Loughner with three counts of attempted murder and two counts of murdering federal employees.
This incident bears many similarities to previous lone offender attacks and highlights the challenging threat posed by such individuals as they operate independently and maintain few trusted associations-making them difficult to detect, monitor, and disrupt. The following are recent active shooter examples:
1. On 1 September 2010, a male suspect—possibly motivated by a violent form of environmental extremism and armed with a potentially functional improvised explosive device attached to his body, a replica weapon, and a starter pistol took hostages at the Silver Spring, Maryland headquarters building of the Discovery Channel and threatened to open fire. The standoff ended when he was killed by law enforcement.
2. On 4 March 2010, a gunman shot two Pentagon police officers at a security checkpoint at the Pentagon entrance. Pentagon officers returned fire and disabled the gunman, who later died of his injuries. The gunman’s motives remain unclear.
3. On 18 February 2010, a man flew a single-engine aircraft into the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offices in an Austin, Texas office building, killing himself and one IRS employee. He allegedly targeted the offices as revenge for personal financial hardships he attributed to the IRS.
4. On 10 June 2009, an 88 year-old male with white supremacist sympathies opened fire with a rifle at the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., killing a security guard. The attacker, who was wounded by return fire and arrested on the scene, died on 6 January 2010 prior to the conclusion of his trial.
Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. Typically, the immediate deployment of law enforcement is required to stop the shooting and mitigate harm to victims. The following measures are recommended to mitigate the impact of an active shooter incident on facilities.
1. Designate at least two evacuation routes and post routes in conspicuous locations.
2. Develop and exercise security and emergency action plans that include policies and procedures for dealing with active shooters.
3. Integrate local law enforcement, emergency responders, SWAT teams, K-9 teams, and bomb squads and first responders into training exercises.
4. When possible, establish random security patrols to disrupt potential surveillance efforts.
5. Install closed circuit television cameras accessible to law enforcement.
6. Train personnel on proper procedures relating to the identification and reporting of suspicious activities. While no single activity is an indicator of pre-operational attack planning, the combination of various activities-such as individuals loitering in sensitive areas for no apparent reason, unusual sketching, and pace counting-could be deemed suspicious in light of other available information.
7. If circumstances prevent safe evacuation, move away from the danger and find shelter in a pre-designated area of refuge or an area with a window to allow rescue. If possible, victims should make every attempt to notify rescuers of their location.
8. If victims are unable to evacuate, they should take all available actions to seek secure cover, such as locking doors and/or hiding in an area that provides maximum protection.
All of us live in a dangerous world that is only getting more dangerous and violent. If you are someone who is in the public eye or speak out about controversial issues, you are more susceptible to acts of violence toward you and others around you. Whether you want to admit it or not, high profile activities automatically put a target on your back. Society has proven time and time again that there are “wackjobs” amongst us. Not everyone is going to like what you have to say about the issue you are speaking about. Unfortunately, left wingers and right wingers see their only course of action is to cause harm and bring peril to your doorstep.
What will you do when the wolf knocks on your door? Allow yourself to become a victim or casualty? Turn and ignore the wolf and hope it leaves you alone? Fight the wolf off by any means necessary? If you’re not strong enough to fight the wolf off, what about utilizing a sheepdog to protect you? Why all the reference to wolves and sheepdogs? The wolf is a predator. The sheepdogs are those folks who will take a stand against the evil that continually haunts us and plagues our society that normal and decent human beings want to be a part of no matter what your cause is.
It is terrible what happened to U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and those around her at the time of the attack. My heart grieves for all those involved. Could this tragedy have been prevented? The answer is yes! Hiring a Security Consultant, Executive Protection Specialist, Security Director, or some other Security Professional could have made a world of difference. Threats and other random acts of violence that is committed toward an individual or group needs to be taken seriously and validated by completing a comprehensive Threat Assessment. Hiring a Security Director to facilitate the security of all public and private events, including travel route and destination planning etc. is a critical must. Any security service that is needed can be contracted with a quality security firm or you can provide the services in-house by hiring your own security personnel. We must take a proactive stand and be strategic in protecting ourselves. We must move away from the frame of mind that says “that will never happen to me.” Every day that old adage is proven not to be true.
Gideon Protective Services, Inc. is here ready to assist you in all your security related solutions. We are a full service Security Firm featuring Executive Protection, Dignitary Protection, Security Consulting, Church Security Training and Protection, Firearms Training, Uniformed Security Guards, and a wide array of other related Security Consulting Services. Call us anytime at 888-305-6513 for a free confidential consultation to discuss your security needs. You can also email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can also be reached on the web at www.executive-protection-services.com and www.executive-protection-services.net to learn more about the professionals at Gideon. Whatever you do, learn from the tragedies that have taken place and be proactive in protecting yourself and those around you.