Las Vegas shooting, other attacks show need for preparation

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas An alarming number of deaths caused by mass shootings has spurred the national debate over guns, with some arguing for regulation and others pointing to the armed good Samaritan who helped stop the carnage here.

Despite the differences of opinion, everyone agrees that the number of mass shootings and deaths from those incidents is up. Further, all agree that the likelihood something tragic could happen anywhere means people need to be aware and prepare.

During a news conference this week in Sutherland Springs, site of the latest mass shooting, Christopher Combs, the FBI special agent in charge in San Antonio, said the number of “active shooter” cases across the country is rising.

According to the U.S. Congressional Research Service, a public mass shooting is one in which four or more people selected indiscriminately are killed, mirroring the FBI definition of mass murder.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security defines an active shooter as a person attempting to kill people with no pattern or method to his selection of victims.

Emergency calls to law enforcement here were broadcast on police radios as an active shooter situation, as Devin P. Kelley, 26, began shooting outside the First Baptist Church and then entered, methodically shooting congregants in the house of worship.

Kelley then was engaged in a shootout with a Sutherland Springs resident armed with a semi-automatic rifle. Kelley dropped his weapon after he was shot by the good Samaritan and fled as two residents gave chase in a high-speed pursuit. Kelley was later found dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound.

His death ended the violent ordeal, which left 26 dead and shattered this small South Texas community. It was an event that local residents said they were not prepared for, or even thought was possible.

Las Vegas massacre

The church shooting occurred barely a month after a lone gunman with 23 rifles — 12 equipped to make those guns mimic fully automatic weapons — used his Mandalay Bay suite perch above to fire into a crowd of concertgoers on the Strip, killing 58 people and wounding more than 500.

The victims were outdoors, enjoying the Route 91 Harvest country western festival, when bullets rained down, causing confusion, fear and death.

Because of the increase in these horrific massacres, Combs said everyone needs to prepare themselves for the eventuality that he or she may be involved in one at some point.

Sutherland Springs and Las Vegas have nothing in common geographically or demographically. One’s a small, rural unincorporated town, and the other is an urban destination point for international tourism.

The apparent randomness of other recent mass shootings highlights the difficulty in preparing for an indiscriminate attack.

In 2016, a gunman opened fire on a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 people in what was then the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. The 2012 Newtown, Connecticut, shooting took place in an elementary school, and the 2012 theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, happened when a madman opened fire during a midnight screening.

The 2007 Virginia Tech massacre took place on a college campus, where 32 people died in several locations.

“I think everybody, no matter where you are, needs to think about this,” Combs said. “If you’re in a school, if you go to college, if you’re at the movies, we should all be thinking about ‘What are we going to do if a crisis breaks out right here?’”

Marathon security precautions

Las Vegas will have increased police security Sunday for the Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon on the Strip.

Metropolitan Police Department Capt. Andy Walsh said the extra security is in light of the Oct. 1 shooting, as well as the truck attack on pedestrians in New York on Oct. 31. The number of police assigned to the event is up to 350 officers, with helicopter surveillance and tactical shooters.

Other security measures have been in place in Las Vegas, which is experienced at staging large-scale events.

Keith Tolhurst, a retired FBI special special agent in Phoenix, said that, in addition to preparation, public awareness is needed. People need to understand “we don’t live in Kansas anymore.”

“A free society is vulnerable. A prepared society knows the vulnerabilities and hopes for the best but prepares for the worst,” said Tolhurst, a consultant and expert on violent crime, snipers and special weapons and tactics.

Of all the recent mass shootings, the Las Vegas massacre stood out to Tolhurst because the gunman used a 32nd-floor sniper’s nest to kill his victims at long range. He was not up close with his victims.

The gunman died of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Tolhurst was part of the FBI tactical team that was called in after Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., was shot in the head on Jan. 8, 2011, in a grocery store parking lot while meeting with constituents near Tucson.

Giffords recovered from the head wound, but six others were killed, including a federal judge, in the mass shooting. That gunman is serving a life sentence in prison.

In addition to public awareness, events and organizations need to establish a crisis plan.

Once organizations or events establish a crisis plan, they can determine what physical security needs improvement, Tolhurst said, “and fix what you can, then train your people.”

Contact Gary Martin at or 202-662-7390. Follow @garymartindc on Twitter.

Downtown Summerlin hosts its annual Festival of Arts
People crowd to Downtown Summerlin for the 23rd annual Summerlin Festival of Arts in Las Vegas, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County educators debate alternative grading systems
Spring Valley High School principal Tam Larnerd, Spring Valley High School IB coordinator Tony Gebbia and retired high school teacher Joyce O'Day discuss alternative grading systems. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Grandparents on the fire that killed three family members
Charles and Doris Smith talk about the night an apartment fire took the lives of three of their family members. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
New York artist Bobby Jacobs donated a sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden
Bobby Jacobs, an artist from upstate New York, has spent much of the past year creating a sculpture of two separate angel wings. He donated the sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Weather will cool slightly through the end of the week
The weather will cool slightly through the end of the week., but highs are still expected to be slightly above normal for this year. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mayor announces new public-private partnership
Mayor Carolyn Goodman announced the creation of the Mayor’s Fund for Las Vegas LIFE, a public-private partnership that will allocate money to the city’s neediest.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Fall fairytale gets cozy at Bellagio Conservatory
Bellagio Conservatory introduces its fall-themed garden titled "Falling Asleep." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
What the house that Ted Binion died in looks like today
Casino heir Ted Binion died in this Las Vegas home in 1998. Current home owner Jane Popple spent over $600,000 to restore and modernize the home. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Rescue Mission employees terminated
Don James, a former employee for the Las Vegas Rescue Mission, talks about the day his team was terminated. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Cupcakes at Freed's Bakery
Freed's Bakery will have Raiders-themed cupcakes available in store and for order during football season. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s fans say goodbye to Cashman Field
Las Vegas 51s fans said goodbye to Cashman Field in Las Vegas, Monday September, 3, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s owner Don Logan's last weekend at Cashman Field
Don Logan, owner of the Las Vegas 51s, gives a tour of Cashman Field before the team's final weekend using the field. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Metro Asst. Sheriff Brett Zimmerman on Aug. 8 officer-involved shooting
Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman met with media Monday to discuss the details of the 14th officer-involved shooting of the year. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program where community and business leaders joined to welcome students back with an inspirational welcome. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Star Trek fans on show’s enduring popularity
Star Trek fans at the Star Trek Convention 2018 talk about why they think the show has stayed popular across the years Thursday, August 2, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Nonprofit provides clothing for homeless
Sydney Grover of Can You Spare A Story?, talks about how she founded the non-profit organization. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Family members of murder victims talk about their loss
Family members of murder victims talk about their loss. Susan Nash, 52, was killed in a shooting along with her daughter and one of her three sons on Sunday night. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Sayegh Cold Case Turns 40
Cary Sayegh was abducted from the playground of the Albert Einstein Hebrew Day School in Las Vegas in 1978. His body has never been found. (File Photo)
Review held in death of man after encounter with Las Vegas police
The mother of Tashii Brown, who died after an encounter with Las Vegas police on the Strip, not satisfied after public review of evidence. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vehicle of Interest in January Homicide
Las Vegas police released footage Friday of a “vehicle of interest” from a deadly shooting in January. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Hostage escapes clutches of robber before shooting
Metropolitan Police Department footage shows a man wearing a motorcycle helmet, identified by police as 27-year-old Mario B. Trejo, with one arm wrapped around a woman’s neck and held a handgun to her head.
Sunset Park Vigil
A small group of people gathered in Sunset Park to remember the three children recently killed in the area.
Henderson police bodycam footage of officer-involved shooting
Henderson police released body-worn camera footage of an officer-involved shooting in a grocery store parking lot at 2667 Windmill Parkway on Aug. 12, 2018. (Henderson Police Department)
Metro Asst. Sheriff Brett Zimmerman on Aug. 8 officer-involved shooting
Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman met with media Monday to discuss the details of the 14th officer-involved shooting of the year. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nye County detectives pursue suspects
A swarm of Nye County deputies, at the request of Las Vegas police, surrounded a hotel room in Pahrump last week to take two fugitives into custody. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like