Report Library

Swatting Incident at University

Event Summary

 

A male caller, later identified and charged, called 911 and said that his “roommate” had a gun and was headed to a named school campus and planned on shooting people. The caller added that his “roommate” was dressed in black. University, city, state and federal law enforcement agencies responded. A forward command post was established directly across from campus at a restaurant. An emergency notification was sent, per Clery, to the campus community.

To compound matters, the design of the university’s buildings made them difficult to clear. Many state, local and federal officers were unfamiliar with the buildings, so a campus officer was assigned to assist. Some responding officers from a federal agency were dressed in black balaclavas and BDUs and were mistaken by some witnesses as the possible shooters. This federal agency had recently undergone a name change, and officers from other agencies were not familiar with the new name.

It was eventually ascertained that the call was a hoax. Investigation and evaluation of the available evidence led to the identification and subsequent arrest and conviction of the suspect.

Describe how the incident escalated/risk increased

The forward command post was established in a location, a restaurant, directly across from the campus which was still being cleared. Additionally, access was not completely restricted to LEOs.

Another issue was that many agencies responded, and although the leaders/executive level officers were familiar with each other, some officers were not. For example, one agency responded with officers dressed in balaclavas and black BDUs. Although they displayed badges, the three-letter designation was not familiar to many officers due to the recent series of name changes this agency has undergone in recent years. A collection place for responding personnel to familiarize themselves with other responding agencies would have been ideal.

 

Lessons Learned

 
  • Leadership should immediately identify a safe staging area, sufficiently distanced from the event, for responding officers to report so they can be given assignments and briefed on assisting agencies.
  • Have local agencies and other agencies that may respond to an incident at the university train at or become familiar with the campus prior to an actual incident.
  • Prior to a critical incident, personnel must be aware of all allied agencies that could potentially respond to an incident within the jurisdiction.
  • Personnel who are not properly equipped or clearly identified as law enforcement personnel should not be deployed or participate in the incident response.
Changes as a result of that experience (what would you do differently?):
  • Increase training with local agencies on responding to campus incidents to increase familiarity with the campus and with personnel who may respond to assist.
  • Thoughtfully select a location for the command post that is sufficiently distanced from the incident to ensure security.
  • Utilize a staging area for responding officers.
 
Full Report

Swatting Incident at University

 

 

Employer Information
 

Type of law enforcement agency: Police Department – College/University

 

Involved Person Info
 

Role: Sworn Officer

Years of experience in law enforcement: Greater than 15

 

Incident Information
 

Type of call / Reason for response: Shooting/Shots Fired

Incident Initiated by: Radio call response

Date: November 2013

Please classify this incident (Check all that apply): Almost resulted in serious injury or death

How many officers were on the scene at the time of the near miss or incident? At least 100

Describe your initial assessment or impression of the call or scene:

The situation was difficult to contain due to the nature of the urban campus and overlapping jurisdictions. The incident caused an amplified response because it was almost 1 year after the Sandy Hook Elementary School (SHES) shooting and approximately 1 month after an incident at another college in the state, wherein an individual dressed in black carrying a large sword was reported. Many of the responding officers to this incident responded to both the SHES incident and the one at the other campus.

Incident Summary:

A male caller, later identified and charged, called 911 and said that his “roommate” had a gun and was headed to a named school campus and planned on shooting people. The caller added that his “roommate” was dressed in black. University, city, state and federal law enforcement agencies responded. A forward command post was established directly across from campus at a restaurant. An emergency notification was sent, per Clery, to the campus community.

To compound matters, the design of the university’s buildings made them difficult to clear. Many state, local and federal officers were unfamiliar with the buildings, so a campus officer was assigned to assist. Some responding officers from a federal agency were dressed in black balaclavas and BDUs and were mistaken by some witnesses as the possible shooters. This federal agency had recently undergone a name change, and officers from other agencies were not familiar with the new name.

It was eventually ascertained that the call was a hoax. Investigation and evaluation of the available evidence led to the identification and subsequent arrest and conviction of the suspect.

Describe how the incident escalated/risk increased:

The forward command post was established in a location, a restaurant, directly across from the campus which was still being cleared. Additionally, access was not completely restricted to LEOs.

Another issue was that many agencies responded, and although the leaders/executive level officers were familiar with each other, some officers were not. For example, one agency responded with officers dressed in balaclavas and black BDUs. Although they displayed badges, the three-letter designation was not familiar to many officers due to the recent series of name changes this agency has undergone in recent years. A collection place for responding personnel to familiarize themselves with other responding agencies would have been ideal.

 

Location Information
 

What type of location was this? University

What were the environmental conditions at this location? Outdoor, daytime (light)

 

Subject Information
 

Did dispatch inform the involved person of any criminal/warrant/other information about the subject(s)? Unknown

Did the involved person encounter a subject(s)? No

 

Lessons Learned
 

Check all risks involved in this incident:

  • Environmental
  • Unfamiliarity with the scene among some responding officers

Please describe what type of accident or incident was averted:

The situation had the potential for a Blue on Blue incident with officers being unfamiliar with other responding personnel due to the lack of a staging area/ collection point for responding officers.

Forward command location was unsafe due to the possibility of an active shooter in the building directly across the street.

What were the contributing factors that almost led to or did lead to serious injury or death?

  • Unsafe location of the forward command post
  • Personnel were not directed to a staging area
  • Personnel were not familiar with allied law enforcement personnel responding to assist
  • A responding agency’s uniform of the day was consistent with the suspect’s clothing description

Describe the lessons learned:

  • Leadership should immediately identify a safe staging area, sufficiently distanced from the event, for responding officers to report so they can be given assignments and briefed on assisting agencies.
  • Have local agencies and other agencies that may respond to an incident at the university train at or become familiar with the campus prior to an actual incident.
  • Prior to a critical incident, personnel must be aware of all allied agencies that could potentially respond to an incident within the jurisdiction.
  • Personnel who are not properly equipped or clearly identified as law enforcement personnel should not be deployed or participate in the incident response.

Changes as a result of that experience (what would you do differently?):

  • Increase training with local agencies on responding to campus incidents to increase familiarity with the campus and with personnel who may respond to assist.
  • Thoughtfully select a location for the command post that is sufficiently distanced from the incident to ensure security.
  • Utilize a staging area for responding officers.


How relevant are the lessons learned in this incident to you and/or your agency?
5.00 avg. rating (97% score) - 1 vote

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