Monday, October 29, 2018

Yet Another Case Study: Pittsburgh, October 27 2018

The latest tragedy occurred at the Tree of Life synagogue in the Shadyside neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

11 people were killed and six wounded by a man who had no prior interactions with law enforcement or any mental health system, had guns purchased legally, and exhibited no overt signs that would suggest a pending attack.

Investigators will be sifting through evidence and testimony for a while, but a few facts have been established about this incident:
  • The assailant walked unimpeded through an unlocked exterior door
  • The assailant retreated back into the target area after encountering responding law enforcement
  • No one inside could or would counter the force wielded by the assailant
  • Evacuations to hide locations kept some out of the line of fire
  • The assailant's position inside the facility delayed medical first responders
  • Most injuries and fatal wounds happened within five minutes of the assailant's initial attack
  • A 911 call was placed two minutes after the first shots fired
  • Local LEO responded "immediately," but it's not clear how many, what type, and how long before responding officers engaged the assailant
  • The assailant was armed with multiple weapons, including one long gun and three handguns
  • The assailant acted alone
  • The attack was stopped when the assailant received return fire (e.g was met with equal force)

Some conclusions based on these facts:
  • Access control is critical: unlocked, unattended doors permit malefactors immediate access to targets
  • Law Enforcement response is after a crime is committed. We are on our own until police and medical responders arrive and take control of the scene. Therefore, a two-minute response time on scene is fast -- but meaningless if it takes 10 minutes to secure the space.
  • Hiding can be effective, especially if response is swift. Exiting the facility is usually the best option, but hiding is next best. Any civilian responders inside the building should move in such a way as to prevent the attacker from encountering those in hide positions.
  • An attacker with multiple weapons is carrying several because he/she is unable to rapidly reload. The time required to change firearms (especially if they are different) is longer than a magazine change for even experienced shooters. It is also likely that the attacker will need several shots to adjust from a rifle to a handgun. This transition period is likely the best time to engage an attacker.
  • Any lethal force response to an attacker will slow or even stop the attack (whether of not the attacker is hit). According to FBI Active Shooter research, the majority of attackers immediately cease when engaged, hit, or succumb to self-inflicted wounds.
Bottom Line: Enange an attacker with lethal force as soon as practicable while maintaining protection of unarmed civilians in hide or escape positions. 

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Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment! I appreciate your comments and will review and post if appropriate.

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