Webinar Notes: Lessons from the Seattle Pacific University Shooting

Lessons from the Seattle Pacific University Shooting


Overview (00:20)

  • Second of the mass casualty training webinar series.
  • June 5th 2014, one man armed with a shotgun killed one student and injured two more at Seattle Pacific University.
  • The culture of preparedness developed prior the shooting.
  • The response of the university, police, EMS and the media.
  • Actions taken in the recovery phase.


Resource Speakers (01:21)

  • Cheryl Michaels


    • Associate Director of Safety and Security, Seattle Pacific University


      • Oversees campus security operations center, a 24/7 dispatch center for the campus that monitors surveillance, files, and emergency notification system.
      • Implements the campus emergency and crisis management plan including training.
      • Lead advisor on threat assessment for at-risk individuals.
      • Heads the gender-based violence awareness program.
    • Co-owner of the security consulting firm Educational Safety, LLC


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Why do we lock down? (04:03)

  • Looking at why allows us to determine our goals and strategies.


    • To deter an event from occurring
    • To deny access from people they can harm
    • To delay movement so law enforcement can intervene
    • To defend ourselves
  • Lockdown is the goal as no one is harmed behind a locked door vs. a barricaded door


Unarmed Security Officer Response (05:25)

  • Visual Containment Policy


    • Establish visual containment with a clear view of both sides mitigating danger.
    • Collect information in this position.
    • Direct self-evacuees to a place of safety.
    • Connect with law enforcement when they arrive to provide information based on what they’ve observed.
    • Provide resources to law enforcement including keys, card access, floor plan, and map.


Four Phases of Emergency Management (06:43)

  • The four phases


    • Mitigation


      • The hardware
    • Preparedness


      • The software
    • Response
    • Recovery
  • Preparedness and mitigation are driven by real-world impactful events. On Cheryl’s tenure with SPU they’ve had:


    • Multiple bank robberies


      • In 20 years, on-campus bank has been robbed 7 times, averaging every 3 years


        • Bombs
        • Shootouts
    • 3 months after the Virginia Tech shooting, students thought they saw a man with a gun enter the library.


      • No active shots fired
      • A mistake
    • A man dressed head-to-toe in black, wearing a gas mask in front of the library.


      • A germaphobe bus driver
    • Watershed Moments


      • In national history which reminded us that it could happen in our communities.


        • Columbine, April 20, 1999
        • Virginia Tech, April 16, 2007
        • Sandy Hook, December 14, 2012
        • These three cases drove preparation and mitigation plan on campus which started in 2001 – 14 years prior the shooting occurred.
      • Two personal cases that played a huge role in emergency planning around active shooting and community members.


        • Platte Canyon High School, September 27, 2006
        • West Nickel Mines, October 2, 2006


Emergency Preparedness Components (11:31)

  • Components


    • Resources
    • Technology
    • Roles
    • Training
  • Mitigation


    • ANSI Grade 1 Locksets


      • Based on the experience in the Virginia Tech shooting, the importance of door locks is emphasized in the classroom spaces. The Sandy Hook Governor’s Task force recommend these heavy locksets in place.
    • Card Access


      • For larger spaces like lecture halls, these were installed.
    • Electronic Lockdown


      • Remote lock for all classroom spaces through a button or through the security office to instantly lock down.
    • Security Film in Doors


      • In Sandy Hook, the shooter shattered the glass doors.
      • Security film does not bulletproof the glass but it delays getting access to a building.
    • Surveillance Video


      • Throughout the campus, not just for monitoring but also for intelligence gathering.
    • SPU Alert System (Mass Notification) activated from the security office operations center


      • Loud Speaker System


        • Pre-recorded messages can be blasted from the operations center
      • Electronic Reader Boards


        • Instructors ask students to turn off their cell phones, which can defeat the text notification system in place, so electronic reader boards provide that.
        • Only shows the date and time by default, but is activated during an emergency.
      • Desktop Notification (Alert Screen)
      • Text & Call
      • Email
    • Communication Plan


      • Three Phases


        • Alert


          • Most important to get the message out as quickly as possible.
          • Activated from the security operations center.
        • Inform


          • Update and inform the community.
          • Tell them what’s going on, who is responding, what to do, what should the community know.
          • Notifications are sent out every 15 minutes
        • Reassure


          • Towards the end of the lockdown
          • Reassure that the area is safe
          • Follow up, additional information
  • Preparedness


    • Stop. Think. Act. Booklets given to staff and employees about different scenarios
    • Online Emergency Tutorial Portal for employees on what to do in different scenarios.
    • Campus-wide Emergency Drills


      • Evacuation
      • Lockdown
    • Emergency Support Functions


      • Physical Needs


        • Shelter, food, water
        • Health assessments, first aid, triage
      • Emotional needs


        • Psychological first aid / People Response
        • Opportunity to communicate their situation
      • Informational needs


        • Status of disaster and relief efforts
        • Types of available assistance
    • Security Officers and Dispatchers Training


      • Online Tabletop exercises
      • Exercises in collaboration with the Seattle Police Department
      • Leadership Teams
    • Emergency Lockdown Checklist


      • Must be activated within a minute


        • What happened – Who did it?
        • Red button lockdown
        • Stentofon Loudspeaker Activation
        • Radio Alert All Officers and OSS
        • SPU Alert
        • Velocity Lockdown Command
        • Call 911 give address and description of incident


Where We Ready? (25:03)

  • Event and Response Timeline – June 5th 2014


    • Specific location of the event and the vicinity


      • Otto Miller Hall


        • Only the front door is unlocked
        • Two other doors at the sides and back of the building are locked and secured, unlocked through card access.
    • Reference points


      • Event Time (ET): Point when the killer exits vehicle and fires the first shot
      • Response Time (RT): Point when OSS received first notification of shots fired
    • The event (28:10)


      • 911 call of the event – shooting on 3rd Ave West and Nickerson
      • ET, shooter fires first shot to student (Paul)
      • 21s ET, shooter reloaded and walking into Otto Miller Hall (OMH)
      • 24s ET, students who first encountered shooter (Thomas and Sophie) runs into the side of the OMH building’s parking lot area
      • 29s ET, shooter is inside the lobby of OMH
      • 44s ET = RT


        • First call comes in to dispatch from a faculty member inside OMH
        • Student (Sarah) at top of stairwell about to descend
        • Shooter points the gun at students
      • 51s ET / 7s RT, security officers dispatched to OMH
      • 1m1s ET / 17s RT, all campus lockdown through red button
      • 1m4s ET, shooter shot student (Sarah) and reloads
      • 1m14s ET – 1m53s ET


        • Student (Jon) in the monitoring office uses pepper spray, tackled shooter to wrestle the gun away
        • Shooter pulls out a hunting knife
        • Another student (Dustin) helped to tackle the shooter
      • 1m43s ET / 59s RT


        • OSS Dispatcher contacts 911
      • 2m8s ET / 1m24s RT


        • Security Officers arrive on scene and begin CPR on student shot at outside the building (Paul)
      • 2m22s / 1m44s RT


        • SPU Alert: Pre-scripted notice that lockdown is initiated, to lock down or leave campus if locked out of a building, and further updates will be provided after.
      • 4m43s ET, first SPD units arrive
      • 5m13s ET, SPD enters OMH lobby
      • 5m22s ET, SPD handcuffs Ybarra
      • 6m14s ET / 5m30s RT


        • Security officers enter the lobby with medical bags
        • Students look for medical assistance and informs more people are injured
        • Security officers left Paul with SPD EMT
        • Security officers locate Sarah and Thomas
        • Sarah in bad shape, needs to have bleeding controlled and EMS attention to get her to hospital
      • 6m43s ET / 5m59s RT


        • Campus reader board experienced technical delay but activated with the first emergency message: Emergency. Campus is on lockdown.
      • 7m9s ET, footage showing students reviewing Stop. Think. Act. Notebook
      • 10m13s ET, Paul Lee transported to hospital
      • 21m50s ET, Sarah Williams transported to hospital
      • 27m48s ET, Thomas Fowler transported to hospital
      • 30m43s ET, SPD send students to the lobby and then outside OMH
      • 35m13s ET, SPD escorts shooter in handcuffs out of the building and transported to precinct
      • 40m28s ET, Jon Meis transported to hospital
      • 45m43s ET


        • Students sent to the main gym for interviews with the police
        • SPD places caution tape around the crime scene area
      • 51m27s ET / 50m43s RT


        • Campus reader boards activate 3rd emergency message: Campus remains in lockdown, remain sheltered in place
      • 1h18m51s ET / 1h18m7s RT


        • Campus reader boards activate 4th emergency message: Campus remains in lockdown. Please stay indoors.
      • 1h29m17s ET / 1h28m RT


        • Campus reader boards activate 5th message: Campus is out of lockdown. All classes are canceled. Check SPU website for updates.
      • 1h35m43s ET / 1hr34m RT


        • Campus reader boards activate final message: Lockdown has ended. We ask that you do not go near the vicinity of Otto Miller Hall at this time.
    • Challenges encountered during the incident


      • Multiple descriptions of the shooter


        • Description of the shooter’s clothes
        • Thomas and Jon both mistaken to be the shooter
      • Different locations of the people shot


        • Paul on the street, outside the OMH building
        • Thomas at the back of the OMH building
        • Sarah at the lobby of OMH
      • Pulling up the video takes a while.
      • The media, kept employees and students away from them.


Recovery (46:45)

  • Started when the students were evacuated out of Otto Miller Hall and across the street to the gymnasium.
  • Law enforcement looking for a place to conduct interview of the individuals who are witnesses.
  • Otto Miller Hall lobby was remodeled so the space looks different.
  • Counselling was made available when the students returned to campus.
  • Lessons learned:


    • Provide law enforcement with floor plans to the building so a better evacuation plan can be put in place, in this incident everyone went in and out of the main building door which is also the crime scene.
    • Pick the placement of the memorial so it is not right in the crime scene.
    • Support system for people close to those who get injured or dead.
    • A need for a plan to have a phone number to call for the staff to get critical incident stress debriefing immediately following the incident.
    • After forensic analysis and crime scene investigation, the building was turned back over to the security office, removing the police tapes down, with media and people crowding in the entrance looking into the lobby.
    • Coordinating with the medical examiner and the South Korean embassy to release the name of the sole casualty.
    • Dealing with VIPs in a lockdown, Seattle Storms Women’s Professional Basketball team locked in the gym on campus
    • Coordinate with embassies and consulates on inquiries concerning international students.
    • Availability of therapy and counseling for the victims and the students who went through trauma.
    • Need for additional security for the first few weeks following the incident.
    • Security films for glass doors, windows, and walls, and door locksets, while can be expensive to implement is critical for safety.


Murder Trial (1:00:06)

  • October 2016 to February 2017
  • Aaron Ybarra found guilty and sentenced 112 years for the shooting


For questions and clarifications, contact:

Cheryl Michaels

Associate Director of Safety and Security

Seattle Pacific University

Email: michac@spu.edu

Phone: 206-281-2625



Who can lockdown the campus? Who can push the red button and actually lock everything down? How is it limited? (1:03:18)

Upper-level administration. All of the dispatchers and security officers have the authority based on information about the threat on campus. If a mistake is made, it is because we took precautionary measures. If misinformation came in, we have an understanding community. You can lose lives if it took too long to activate lockdown.


In a situation after lockdown where a student is caught outside of a locked down building, do you have a suggested response? Do you assist them in some way? I saw that on the message board you advise them to get off campus, is there anything else that you recommend? (1:04:58)

We stick with that protocol, we instruct them to leave campus, as opposed to a pre-designated large secure area which makes it a target-risk environment.


Are your telecommunicators, are they students or are they full-time professionals? (1:07:01)

The team comprises of both. Full-time dispatchers and additional students provide end of the week support. 5 student dispatchers and 2 full-time staff dispatchers.


In terms of their training and responsibilities, can you talk a little bit about the training you've gone through and some of the subsequent training where you work with your telecommunicators to manage the situation? (1:07:42)

When we bring individuals into the training, we provide to them the core function of responding to a disaster or crisis level incident to understand what the mission is from the beginning. We also talk about the risks, the protocols, and procedures. It is a continual training that's part of dispatching, the critical part falls in that first two minutes of a threat on campus, whether it's a shooting, or hybrid targetted violence. Practical simulated scenario training on the emergency lockdown checklist to see how they perform under stress and time-pressure.


You mentioned dialing 911, so when a person calls from on-campus, is it routed through your communications center or is it gonna go to the local police department? (1:10:31)

911 calls are allowed from anyone in the campus. The reason we call 911 as follow through is to ensure they have the correct and exact address.


To contact your communications center, it's some other phone number, it's a communications center phone number, not 911? (1:11:43)

External notifications to the operations center are through the PIO.


How does the lockdown end up impacting the police response if the subject is locked inside of a building? How do you end up coordinating their access to that locked down building? (1:12:28)

Officers on the scene outside of the building coordinate and brief the SPD officers about the lockdown. They are then handed physical keys and card access, and other information needed. The officer can relay to dispatch which door to unlock and the operations center can remotely unlock it.



"Most shootings are done by some member of your community so it makes sense to focus on that. To build-up a really good threat assessment team and to have that analysis in place, and to work with law enforcement to address any concerns that come up. But in this case, how do you plan around the person that you do not have any leakage about, that you don't know if they're going to come into your community. So again, that was the frame of reference we had as we developed our mitigation and preparedness strategies"

"We focused on ANSI Grade 1 Locksets. Now I mentioned that in all the shootings you can look at no one behind a locked door was injured. There's an anecdote from Virginia Tech where a faculty member barricaded a door closed. The shooter was never able to get into the room as he barricaded his body, the faculty member was shot through the door, and passed away. So we focus on locks. After Virginia Tech, after we saw that experience that doors that had been barricaded by tables or people, the University made a commitment that they were going to change all of our classroom spaces and developed a plan that any future build would have this level of lockset in it. If you could go read the Sandy Hook Governor's task force report on the Sandy Hook School shooting, they specifically recommend some security measures and one of those are installing these heavy locksets in place."

"We do a lot of drills in our own department to make sure that we're prepared. I've mentioned some of the online, as part of our earthquake preparedness is we also deliver table top exercises online. A website where we've developed over a period of time, messages would go out and departments across the campus are expected to respond to those and as the situation unfolded, we identify areas of concern or problem that we're able to wrap up and start addressing in our planning."

"We're still struggling to understand back at our security office how many shooters there were. That's largely because multiple descriptions were called in about the shooter. In fact, the first couple if you heard, she said that he was wearing a cap. He was wearing a hoodie that wasn't pulled up at the time, but he wasn't wearing a cap. He actually goes on and was described his clothes as what Thomas was wearing – plaid shirt and shorts. We get calls later into our security office in the middle of what was going on in our lobby describing Jon Meis as the shooter because a faculty member and other that were looking down at the lobby saw him pointing what looked like a handgun at the person with the rifle. But most of all, it was the fact that we had a person shot outside the building, and then we had we had a person that's been shot halfway down Otto Miller Hall, and another individual who's been shot way at the back of the building. So, you had to ask yourself based on the information we have and the multiple descriptions, what was our information telling us? How did an individual that gets shot end up all the way at the back of the building? And because we're literally 5 minutes into this, getting that video intelligence going back and pulling that up and understanding the context of what we're viewing that takes a while. So, we're still, pretty much at 45 minutes, just starting to figure out that there's just one shooter, and here's where the individuals went, and we're starting discussions about ending the lockdown for the campus."

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