Emergency Automatic Gunshot Lockdown & Retail Shopping Malls
According to the FBI, an “active shooter” is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area A “mass shooting” is when three or more people are killed indiscriminately not including the perpetrator (www.fbi.gov). An active shooter can impact any business or organization at any time. They act without overt warning, without confiding in anyone, and without regard for their own lives. They act out of mental sickness, hatred, avarice, and revenge. A typical active shooter had, at one time or another, participated in the community in which they later wreaked havoc, with some not showing any outright signs of impending violence. Historically, these people have been current or former: students, employees, contractors, customers or someone with an adversarial relationship with the same. In many such cases, it’s a complete stranger; A Lone Wolf.
Active shooter incidents have soared in America over most recent years. One of the most notable incidents occurred last year, on June 12, at the Pulse LBGT Nightclub in Orlando, Florida where many club patrons were either gunned down or taken hostage by an Islamic extremist during “last call” of a Latino night celebration. The terrorist first engaged an off duty law enforcement officer with his semi-automatic rifle outside the club around 2:00am. Once the terrorist became engaged with additional law enforcement officers, he disappeared into the nightclub with his exact location known only to his victims. Club patrons who weren’t able to escape huddled inside bathrooms and under tables frantically texting friends and loved ones for help. This horrific and unfathomable act continued for over three hours allowing the madman to freely move about the club, going from room to room, hiding place to hiding place, executing defenseless patrons at will. The entire ordeal ended at 5:14am; 3 hours and 12 minutes after it began. Of the 320 patrons that night, 49 were mortally wounded and 58 were injured; some critically. 33.43% of the patrons that early morning were wounded or killed. Of the surviving 213 and the families, the long term physiological and psychological damage caused by this event will carry on for generations to come.
Emergency Automatic Gunshot Lockdown (EAGL) System
45.6% of active shooter incidents occur in commercial businesses and 24.4% occurring at schools.
According to the FBI’s study (www.fbi.gov) of active shooting incidents from 2003-2013, 45.6% of active shooter incidents occur in commercial businesses and 24.4% occurring at schools. The FBI states (FBI 2011) workplace violence costs anywhere between 6 billion and 36 billion dollars per annum, with 66% of workplace homicides being retail sales staff (www.bls.gov). For any commercial business stakeholder or retail store owner, these numbers are staggering and disturbing. 95% of companies do not have the resources nor the ability to handle the loss incurred from an active shooter event on their property according to the Insurance Journal (www.insurancejournal.com).
Lone wolf attacks are difficult to predict. The business interruption costs from injuries and losses sustained in an active shooter event are staggering. The first step to mitigating an active shooter risk is to determine the exposures a business faces through a risk evaluation. The next step in mitigating an active shooter risk an organization faces, most specifically in these cases, is vulnerability audits. Incorporating these results into a multi-tiered security platform can reduce the risk and help to mitigate the potential threat from an active shooter and change the results.
The Emergency Automatic Gunshot Lockdown (EAGL) system can integrate with most any building security system.
As retail shopping malls trend away from the big box “anchor” stores to attract a more diverse customer base, many instead are using space for fitness clubs, IMAX type theatres, theme parks, high end restaurants, office space and nightclubs to offer a different kind of retail experience. The results of these shifts in retail direction may increase risk by having tenants who serve alcohol into early morning hours or movie theatres that remain open until very late exposing the patrons and employees of these venues to additional kinds of threats.
The Emergency Automatic Gunshot Lockdown (EAGL) system can integrate with most any building security system. The EAGL’s indoor/outdoor wireless gunshot sensors detect gunfire and activate within seconds of shots fired by automatically securing building perimeters (an option). EAGL will then notify law enforcement via text messages, emails and phone calls of the active shooter threat with a map of the building showing the location of the shooter and ballistic data of the weapon being used. EAGL will then automatically live stream CCTV from the building to security and law enforcement to help identify and track the shooter providing critical situational awareness to law enforcement and EMS. Public address and mass notification systems can be activated by EAGL to alert building occupants, and others outside the building (parking lots/garages), of the active shooter threat and directives on where to go for safety.
“For some, no amount of weeks, months or years will ever be enough to make the theater just another under-lit place to see a movie. It’s a place stained with too much tragedy, too much loss, too much heartache.”
On July 20, 2012 at the Century Theatre in Aurora, Colorado, a lone gunman walked freely through an emergency exit just after midnight, one he had previously propped open, and into a packed movie theatre where he shot 70 people using a shotgun, AR-15 style semiautomatic rifle, and handgun. Of the 70 shot, 12 died. It was three years before the theatre fully reopened. Statements taken from the Aurora Sentinel, July 20, 2015, “For some, no amount of weeks, months or years will ever be enough to make the theater just another under-lit place to see a movie. It’s a place stained with too much tragedy, too much loss, too much heartache.” “I don’t even drive down that street, and I avoid the mall, too,” says another Aurora resident. While the state and federal civil liability suits were dismissed against the theatre owner, Cinemark, the long lasting effects from the shooting will be felt in the community, and in the minds of all movie goers. Moreover, the likelihood of a second active shooter event at this location is increased due to copycat behavior. It is very unlikely Cinemark could endure another active shooter event at the Aurora Mall.
If EAGL had been part of the building security system at Century Theatre or at Pulse Nightclub the results would have been significantly changed. I am speaking specifically to the resulting body count.
Firstly, upon the initial discharge of a firearm outside the Pulse Nightclub the early morning hours of June 12, EAGL would have locked the exterior doors of Pulse, and either stopped or deterred the shooter from entering the building. As the very first shot that rang out and every shot thereafter emails, text messages and telephone calls to security, law enforcement and staff inside the club would have been triggered alerting them of the gunshot event. A map of the building where the shots originate along with ballistic data of the weapon being used would be included in these messages and imagery. In those first precious few seconds alone, many on the inside could have been made aware of the eminent danger that loomed, and either exited safely out of the building if the shooter made it in, or safety in place had the lock engaged and kept the shooter out. Additionally, law enforcement and building staff would have had a clear and concise floor plan showing the location of the shooter, giving them situational awareness necessary to make life saving decisions and to direct others to safety.
If law enforcement had been aware of the location of the shooter at all times this would have resulted in a more immediate engagement with the shooter, and would have likely spared many lives or critical injuries.
Automatically, and within seconds of shots fired, Pulse’s CCTV system would have engaged from the gunfire to direct the nearest cameras towards the shooter, and to live stream the footage to the responding law enforcement and SWAT teams, First Responders and EMS to provide necessary data to react quickly to the grim situation. Each shot fired while inside of Pulse nightclub would have given SWAT a constant eye on his location and the nearest camera would be following capturing imagery and live streaming data. The cameras would have aided police in locating the people wounded and hiding inside within seconds after arriving to the scene, enabling them to rescue the hostages and those hiding much sooner. If law enforcement had been aware of the location of the shooter at all times this would have resulted in a more immediate engagement with the shooter, and would have likely spared many lives or critical injuries. Instead, many of the Pulse Nightclub patrons were severely injured or died while waiting and hoping for help, frantically texting and begging to their loved ones and law enforcement to save them. The terrorist would not have had three hours to carry out the worst terrorist act in the United States since September 11, 2001 had the EAGL system been in place.
In the case of the Aurora, Colorado theatre shooting, the EAGL system would have sent and sounded a very loud alarm had the exterior door been propped open which is how the shooter easily gained access. This would have given theatre employees and security staff ample notice of the potential threat and could have initiated the police. The alert would have given staff time to remove the obstacle in the door before the shooter returned to the theatre from the parking lot with all of his gear and his weapons. Even though the Aurora Police Department is only two miles away from the theatre, and arrived within two minutes of the first 911 call, it was too late. It is stated in the Aurora Theatre Shooting After Action Report (AAR) critical messages to First Responders were not sent and some “not understood”. The fire department did not know the police department had apprehended the suspect which delayed triage to the most critical. Many bled out in the theatre waiting for help that never came because of the lack of situational awareness. Paramedics had limited access to the victims and were delayed from entering the premises because they were overloaded with victims exiting the scene before ever getting to the critically injured.
Had EAGL been installed and integrated into the theatre’s CCTV system much of the “unknown” in this situation would have been significantly reduced or eliminated had law enforcement and EMS had the opportunity to view live video stream coming from inside the building at or on their way to the scene. This would have allowed for the command center to formulate a more organized and exact response. This would have saved lives by properly identifying the most critically wounded and triaged them sooner before they bled out in the theater. Public address and mass notification activation may have given the occupants of the theatre critical extra seconds needed to escape the violence.
Retail shopping places are the heart and soul of most communities where young teens to aging adults gather to socialize, dine and enjoy a day of shopping. Holidays and other events during the year draw families to the mall get their picture taken with Santa Claus, or for young children to pick out their first bicycle. Malls are the hallmark of most communities, and as they move in improving the retail experience similar attention should be invested in improving security to also align with our times.