Coming from a horrifying shooting incident in Las Vegas that killed 59 and injured 500 more, the subject of mass shooting is again brought to the spotlight. It sparked lots of debate, from gun control, the motivation of the armed shooter, to possible terrorist links. The Vegas shooting came to take the record for the largest mass shooting in the US thus far.
Five years ago, a similar shooting took place at the Century 16 Theatre in Aurora, Colorado. It was the worst at the time, with 12 killed and 58 left injured. A little past midnight, the lone suspect in the incident open fired to a theater full of moviegoers who decided to catch the premiere showing of The Dark Knight Rises.
An interesting element to the incident is that law enforcement apprehended suspect, James Holmes, and the suspect also admitted to having set up an explosive device in his apartment. On August of 2015, Holmes was found guilty and was sentenced to 12 life sentences.
This webinar’s resource person is Lieutenant Stephen Redfearn, one of the first responders in the Aurora shooting. He’s served Aurora PD since 1999, and currently oversees and supervises the major investigation section. Lieutenant Redfearn will recount the incident and its timelines, as well as the successes, challenges, and lessons learned.
Specific areas discussed on the webinar include:
- A backgrounder on the history of mass shootings in US history.
- The resources available to respond during the time of the incident.
- The trainings taken by their team which helped tremendously in how they handled the mass shooting.
- The profile of the suspect.
- The different weapons, ammunition, gear, and miscellaneous items acquired and to be used by the suspect in the theater shooting, as well as in setting up an improvised explosive in his apartment.
- The conditions of the area of prior the shooting incident.
- A comprehensive timeline starting from the start of the movie to the attack.
- The events that transpired during the shooting, including the 911 calls placed by people in the vicinity.
- The response from different agencies to the event.
- Apprehending the suspect, and the suspect advising officers of the explosives planted in his house.
- How the shortage of ambulance to transport victims into hospitals prompted police officers to utilize patrol cars.
- The various agencies that responded and assisted Aurora PD during and after the shooting.
- The pieces of evidence found in the shooter's car which helped to corroborate the story.
- The suspect's apartment, the improvised explosives, ammunition and other evidence found from the site.
- Dealing with the evidence and disposal of explosive hazards.
- The findings of the crime scene investigation.
- The trial that found shooter, James Holmes, guilty of 24 counts of murder and sentenced to 12 life sentences.
- The recovery efforts in the first 72 hours which involve identifying victims, notifying victims’ loved ones, a visit by the POTUS, and the creation of memorial.
- Long-term considerations towards recovery and healing for both on the responders and victims’ and/or victims’ families.
- An active action report enumerating the successes, areas for improvement, challenges and the injury tally.
- Paying tribute to the victims and their families.
The final takeaways that the Aurora PD would like to share with other agencies that stress the importance of:
- Comprehensive training – both tabletop and realistic simulations and drills.
- Collaboration between the dispatchers, police, and fire department.
- Ballistic, tactical and medical equipment and training.
- Planning and coordination for communications, logistics, and traffic flow.
- Soliciting help from other agencies to have extra than insufficient resources.
- Proper handling and management of suspects.
- Honoring, protecting and assisting victims and their families on a holistic level.
- Dealing with personnel’s deliverables and wellness.
- Making psychological services and other forms of counseling available to all – victims, victims' families, personnel, and the community.
- Dealing with donations, help, and assistance for the victims, their families and the responders.
- Logistics for the memorial for victims.
- Controlling media coverage and potential conspiracy theorists.