Experts Teaching Hands-on Mass Shooting Responses

Courses offered by private companies go beyond the “run, hide, fight” approach that the federal government has recommended since the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut. The active-survival classes commonly teach how to build barricades, break through windows, create distractions and care for the wounded.

With mass shootings becoming more deadly, some school systems, concert venues and private companies are increasingly using a more hands-on approach, the Wall Street Journal reports. Courses offered by private companies go beyond the “run, hide, fight” approach that the federal government has recommended since the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut. The active-survival classes commonly teach how to build barricades, break through windows, create distractions and care for the wounded. The FBI says there have been 250 events involving active shooters—defined as an armed person trying to kill people in a populated area—in the U.S. between 2000 and 2017. In 2017, there were more active-shooter incidents than any year since 2000, killing 138 people, the most of any year on record. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools system updated its security plan after the 2018 Parkland, Fl., high school shooting and is beginning to offer training that emphasizes “avoid, barricade, counter, survive,” or ABCS. “What we’ve done for so long is encourage everyone to stay in place,” said Tracy Russ, a Charlotte schools spokesman. “It is an adjustment.”

A new Florida law requires school districts to conduct active-shooter training drills as often as other types of drills. A recent report from a panel that investigated the shooting at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School said classrooms should have designated “hard corners,” or areas where students are better protected from gunshots.  “There is a national acceptance that there is the potential for people coming into contact with violent individuals at any given moment, time or location,” said Greg Crane of the ALICE Training Institute, which teaches workers to “alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate.” Most active-shooting events last about five minutes. That’s also the average time it takes for the first law-enforcement officers to arrive. “Can you survive for five minutes?” one trainer asked a class. “That’s the goal.”


Parolee Arrested in CA Bowling Alley Killings

Reginald Wallace, 47, who was released from prison in 2017 after serving 17 years for assault with a deadly weapon, was charged with killing three people at a Torrance, Ca., bowling alley and bar.

A parolee who spent 17 years in prison was arrested on suspicion of shooting into a crowd during a brawl at a Los Angeles-area bowling alley and bar, killing three people and injuring four others, the Associated Press reports. Reginald Wallace, 47, of Los Angeles, was arrested Sunday, said Torrance Police Chief Eve Irvine. She said two people began fighting at Gable House Bowl on Friday night, then more people joined in and eventually 10 to 15 people were brawling. Wallace, who already was inside the building, pulled a handgun from his pocket and opened fire, the chief said.

Shots rang out and sent people running for their lives. Three men died at the scene and four other people were wounded. It was unclear whether the gunman knew his victims, Irvine said. “I do know that he was shooting into a crowd,” the chief said. “And there was a lot going on. It was complete chaos at this time. People were running all over, there were fights still occurring and when he pulled out the handgun, the minute people started hearing shots, even more chaos erupted.” Wallace was released from prison in 2017 after serving time for assault with a deadly weapon.


Many Panic Over False Shooting Reports

‘Mass hysteria’ at a Florida mall in late December sent eight people to hospitals over an incorrect report that there had been a shooting. The clattering of chairs in a fast-food restaurant was mistaken for gunshots.

Macarena Soto saw people running and screaming about a shooter inside Orlando’s Florida Mall on Dec. 29 — so she started running, too. “It was just mass hysteria and I saw many people running and screaming, and some crying,” said Soto, 20. It turned out there was no shooting, just a fight between a man and a woman over a fast food refund, the Orlando Sentinel reports. The clattering of chairs hitting the ground was mistaken for gunshots, causing a wave of panic. In the end, 18 people were injured, eight of whom were taken to area hospitals, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said. Most of the injuries were from people being trampled. “That’s an impressive number of people to be taken to the hospital over literally nothing,” said Steven Adelman of the Event Safety Alliance, a Phoenix-based trade association.

The increase of mass shootings nationwide has put many on heightened alert, but e they are rare occurrences. Panicking before the situation is clear can create danger where there is none. “[The shootings] all get appropriate media attention, but that has generated an over-sensitivity and fear that goes even beyond those horrific incidents,” Adelman said. It was the third incident at Florida Mall in two years in which a loud noise caused panic. In 2016, nine people were injured fleeing after hearing popping balloons; and in April, thieves set off fireworks at the mall as a distraction while they stole a Rolex. The initial call in the recent incident went out at 5:07 p.m. but the first outside communication that there was no shooting came about 40 minutes later when a sheriff’s spokeswoman sent an email to local media. The agency posted a similar message on Twitter at 6:06 p.m. The two people who were fighting face charges of disorderly conduct in a public place and battery.


Three Killed, Four Hurt at CA Bowling Alley Shooting

Witnesses said the shooting stemmed from a fight between two large groups of people. One witness said the brawl blocked the entrance of Gable House Bowl and devolved into “complete chaos.”

A fight at a suburban Los Angeles bowling alley turned deadly early Saturday, killing three men and injuring four, the Associated Press reports. Police in the coastal city of Torrance responded to calls of “shots fired” at the Gable House Bowl, a gaming venue that offers bowling, laser tag and an arcade. They found seven people with gunshot wounds. Three men were pronounced dead at the scene, said police spokesman Sgt. Ronald Harris.

Witnesses said the shooting stemmed from a fight between two large groups of people. One witness said the brawl blocked the entrance of Gable House Bowl and devolved into “complete chaos.” Witness Dana Scott, whose bowling league was meeting Friday night, told CNN, “A lot of people ran back into the bar area — behind the seats and onto the floor, under the benches. People were crying. It was not comfortable.” Damone Thomas was in the karaoke section of the bowling alley, a regular stop for him and his friends after work on Fridays, when people ran in saying there was a shooting. The 30-year-old Los Angeles resident said his friend flipped over one of the tables to shield them as they heard gunshots.


Changes in Weaponry Raise Chances of Random Killings

Semiautomatic guns that “just spray” are blamed for incidents such as the one that killed a 13-year-old girl watching television in Milwaukee.

Sandra Parks, 13, is the latest young victim of apparently random gunfire in Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. As Parks sat in her home in November watching television, a masked and brooding Isaac Barnes, 26, walked down a street, wantonly firing an AK-47 assault rifle at an unknown target. A bullet from the barrage pierced a window before striking Sandra, who died on her living room floor. Police later found Barnes, who lived three blocks from Sandra, hiding in a closet. Officers recovered an AK-47 pistol and the AK-47 semiautomatic rifle he was seen firing when Sandra was shot. As a felon, he was forbidden by law to own a firearm. The errant gunfire that killed Parks and others defies conventional statistics.

Yearly increases and decreases in homicide totals in Milwaukee have not coincided with incidents of children killed by errant gunfire. In 2014, three children were the unintended victims of fatal gunshots — a 10-year-old girl on a playground, a 13-month-old boy playing inside a relative’s home and a 5-year-old girl sitting on her grandfather’s lap. “It’s not the number of murders, it’s the number of shootings,” said former Milwaukee police Lt. Steven Spingola, now chair of the criminal justice department at Gateway Technical College in Racine. In previous decades, cheap, short-range, small-caliber handguns called “Saturday Night Specials” were used in many gun crimes. Today there’s a proliferation of easy-to-obtain, high-velocity, semiautomatic weapons that increase the number of bullets flying through the air. “Now everybody has a Glock (semiautomatic handgun), rifles that can penetrate two houses,” Spingola said. “They just spray … and the odds are the more shots fired, the more the chances of innocent people being struck.”


Suicides Make U.S. Gun Death Rate Highest in 20 Years

Nearly 40,000 people were killed by guns in the U.S. in 2017, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last year’s increase in the gun death rate was driven by suicides. Sixty percent of gun deaths last year were self-inflicted.

Nearly 40,000 people were killed by guns in the U.S. in 2017, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The total brings the U.S. gun death rate to its highest point in more than two decades, The Trace reports. The CDC’s WONDER public health database shows that 39,773 people died from firearms last year. That is a rate of 12.0 per 100,000 people, higher than the rate of death from car accidents of 11.5 per 100,000 people, once the leading cause of fatal injury. The last time the gun death rate reached similar heights was in 1996, according to data from the Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), another CDC database.

Last year’s increase in the gun death rate was driven by suicides. Sixty percent of gun deaths last year were self-inflicted. While the rate of gun homicides has fluctuated over the last decade, the rate of gun suicides has steadily increased. The surge in firearm suicide was not spread evenly among states, says the Educational Fund To Stop Gun Violence. Places with higher rates of gun ownership saw the biggest increases in gun suicides. In Kansas, the rate of gun suicides ballooned 65 percent from 2008 to 2017. Vermont, West Virginia, and Missouri all saw their firearm suicide rates increase by nearly 60 percent. Eight states had decreases in their gun suicide rates from 2008 to 2017. The overwhelming majority of Americans who ended their lives with guns last year were white (91 percent) and male (87 percent).


WA Prosecutors Gather Gun Data for Health Approach

Prosecutors in Seattle’s King County are assembling data on shootings in the area to support a public health approach to gun violence. They hope it will help design interventions to prevent shootings.

How many people get shot in Seattle’s King County every year? It was a simple question no one could answer until two prosecutors and a data analyst spent two years scrutinizing shooting incidents, those that resulted in death or injury, as well as those that didn’t, reports the Seattle Times. The data, gathered from eight of the county’s 40 law-enforcement agencies, confirmed what police and agencies working with youth and families intuitively knew: 67 percent of this year’s firearm homicides and 58 percent of non-fatal shootings occurred south of Seattle city limits. The county is using the data to advance an emerging perspective on gun violence: that people shooting one another is as much a threat to public health as it is a problem for law enforcement. They view gun violence through a public-health lens and, for the first time, are analyzing the relationships between victims, witnesses and perpetrators of gun violence the same way an epidemiologist studies the spread of contagious disease. It’s a philosophy that’s gained traction across the U.S.

The goal is to find ways to intervene in the lives of the most vulnerable individuals before bullets start flying and prevent future violence, said Senior Deputy Prosecutor Karissa Taylor, who with Senior Deputy Prosecutor Dan Carew and Data Analyst Rafael Serrano make up the Crime Strategies Unit spearheading the gun-data deep dive. What those interventions will look like remains to be seen. Programs to prevent gun violence must be developed by community providers and public-health officials, Taylor said. The data give them a starting point. “When we started, there was no data, no sharing of information, everything was siloed,” Taylor said. The eight police departments involved in the Shots Fired Project each had different report-management systems for tracking gun violence, and had different definitions of what constituted a shooting.


18 Shootings in U.S. This Year Had Four or More Victims

Many mass shootings, especially those involving only members of one family, don’t get national attention. ABC News compiled a list of such incidents so far in 2018.

Some of the deadliest mass shootings in the U.S. this year prompted national horror, including the Parkland, Fl., high school shooting and the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. News of other mass shootings reached only local audiences. There were a number of incidents where spouses or former spouses killed their partners (and sometimes their children) in Texas, Delaware, Tennessee, Maryland and California, ABC News reports. The FBI defines a mass shooting as an incident where four or more people — not including the suspect — are killed.

While there is no publicly accessible federal tracker of such incidents, various groups and watchdog organizations keep their own lists, often using different definitions of what qualifies as a mass shooting. ABC News found 18 shootings so far this year that took place over the course of one day and involved four or more victims, not including the suspect. Shooting sprees that spanned longer amounts of time were not included. There are hundreds of other deadly shootings that took place across the U.S. this year that don’t fit this definition, including some that received national attention, like the shooting at a Maryland Rite Aid, or the shooting at a Chicago hospital. In both of those incidents, three victims were killed and the respective suspects also killed themselves.


Police Kill Wrong Man in Alabama Mall Shooting

Police initially said they “took out the threat” in a Thanksgiving shooting at Alabama’s largest mall. Later, they said that the man who was killed “likely did not fire the rounds” that injured an 18-year-old victim.

Two people were injured and a third killed when gunfire erupted Thanksgiving night at a shopping mall in Hoover, Al., reports An 18-year-old male was shot and was rushed to a hospital. A 12-year-old girl was also shot and wounded. Emantic Bradford, 21, of Hueytown, Al., was shot and killed by Hoover police.  Police Chief Nick Derzis initially said officers “heard the gunfire, they engaged the subject, and they took out the threat.”

Later, police said that, “new evidence now suggests that while Mr. Bradford may have been involved in some aspect of the altercation, he likely did not fire the rounds that injured the 18-year-old victim.” The shooting happened while thousands were getting an early start at the Galleria, the largest mall in Alabama and a popular Black Friday destination for shoppers from around the state. . The gunfire inside the mall sent shoppers scurrying for cover and city officials described the scene as chaotic. Several shoppers were seen with their guns drawn. One eyewitness was leaving the mall and entering the parking deck when he heard multiple shots, he ran to his car as people were fleeing the entrance by Journey’s. He heard tires squealing as people tried to flee. “This was my first Black Friday,” a high school senior said. “I knew it would be crazy, just not this crazy.”


Border Patrol Agent Cleared Second Time in Shooting

A second Arizona jury acquitted agent Lonnie Swartz for killing a 16-year-old boy who was throwing rocks at him in 2012. Swartz argued that he was entitled to defend himself.

A jury in Tucson, Az., acquitted a U.S. Border Patrol agent of manslaughter in the shooting of a Mexican teen through a border fence, the Associated Press reports. It was another loss for federal prosecutors after the second trial in the 2012 killing. Lonnie Swartz was found not guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Swartz earlier was acquitted of second-degree murder by another jury that had deadlocked on manslaughter charges. Border Patrol agents are rarely criminally charged for using force. The killing of 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez led to outrage on both sides of the border and came as the agency was increasingly scrutinized for its use of force.

Prosecutors said Swartz was frustrated over encounters with people on the Mexico side of the border fence who throw rocks at agents to distract them from smugglers. They say he lost his cool and fatally shot Elena Rodriguez. Swartz fired some 16 rounds and the boy was hit at least 10 times in the back and head. Swartz said he was following his training and defending himself and other law enforcement officers from rocks, which he said could be deadly. Prosecutors acknowledge that Elena Rodriguez was throwing rocks at agents while two smugglers made their way back to Mexico, but they said that wasn’t justification for taking his life. Swartz’s attorney, Sean Chapman, said Elena Rodriguez endangered the lives of the agents and a police officer who was on scene. Swartz still faces a civil rights lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the teen’s mother.