Children Targeted at Festival Shooting
On the afternoon of Sunday, July 28th, a 19-year-old active shooter entered the Gilroy Garlic Festival and opened fire on attendees with an AK-47-style assault rifle. Three police officers assigned to the festival immediately ran to the scene of the shooting, arriving in less than a minute. The suspect engaged the officers in a firefight and was subsequently killed. In total, 3 victims were killed and 12 were injured. Tragically, two of the victims were children: 6-year-old Stephen Romero, and 13-year-old Keyla Salazar.
According to various reports, the shooter bypassed the festival’s security measures (which included metal detectors and bag searches) and cut through a chain link fence to bring his weapon onto the grounds of the festival. He immediately opened fire on a group of families near a bounce house, initially shooting a female victim and her husband at a vendor booth. The couple’s 3-year-old son was dragged out of the line of fire by a 10-year-old girl. Nearby, the shooter targeted additional victims before he was neutralized by responding law enforcement officers.
Key Learning Points
- The shooter bypassed physical security methods by breaking into the festival. Physical security measures are not the only solution to preventing active shooter incidents; adults and children need to be aware of response procedures in the event that physical security fails.
- Many videos show survivors fleeing the festival without notifying their friends and neighbors of the threat. During an active shooter incident, it’s absolutely critical to notify other bystanders of the threat through, clear, specific language. For instance: “RUN! There’s an active shooter!”
- Although this incident occurred outside of a school facility, it underscores the importance of providing children with appropriate training resources in relation to active shooter incidents.
- Children are capable of utilizing survivability strategies under duress.
- Have resources in place to help students cope with extracurricular traumatic incidents.
A Decade of K-12 School Shootings
Last month, CNN compiled a report of school shootings occurring in the United States since 2009. The authors of that report defined a “school shooting” as: A shooting involving at least one person being shot (not including the shooter) on a K-12 school property. According to the report:
- 180 shootings occurred.
- 114 victims were killed.
- 356 victims were injured.
- The average shooting involved 2 victims.
- School shootings increased in frequency over the last decade.
- Shootings may be motivated by isolation and inadequate coping and conflict resolution skills.
- The deadliest shootings were more likely to occur in the morning.
- The majority of shootings occurred in the afternoon at urban schools.
- Shootings at suburban schools tended to have higher casualty rates.
These statistics may seem daunting, but in reality, students and educators are very unlikely to ever experience a school shooting. That being said, we must be aware of the threat and prepare accordingly. Students and educators must be aware of the nature of school violence and be equipped to react appropriately. Once students are given effective tools and a sense of empowerment, they can put their fears aside and focus on their future.
Active Shooter Training Triggers Police Response
An AT&T office building in Downtown Chicago was evacuated after false reports of an active shooter spread among employees. A large contingent of heavily-armed police officers arrived on scene and entered the building after several employees placed 9-1-1 calls. As officers arrived, hysterical employees rushed past them to escape the building while other employees locked themselves in their offices and hid under tables. Several employees reported being held at gunpoint by responding police officers.
An hour after police initially responded, the incident was determined to be a “false alarm” triggered by a group of employees watching an active shooter training video. It was not determined how the video and training session led to the wide-scale panic that ensued.
Key Learning Points
- Law enforcement officers will be in a state of heightened readiness when responding to reports of an active shooter. When interacting with officers (and other first responders) during such an incident, remember to keep your hands visible and listen carefully to officer instructions.
- Make sure to notify local law enforcement, parents, and staff members before conducting an active shooter drill to avoid physical harm, emotional harm, and civil liability.
- Carefully consider materials used during active shooter training, including realistic videos that portray gunfire and screaming. Many active shooter training videos are realistic enough to trigger emotional responses that can be misinterpreted as reactions to an actual threat.