Sunday, October 10, 2010

Gunman Fires Weapon at California Elementary School, Two Injured


At approximately 12:15 local time during a school lunch break, Brendan O'Rourke, 41, dressed in dark clothing parked his car jumped a fence and walked onto Kelly Elementary School (Carlsbad, CA) campus carrying a .357 Magnum and a small gas can. He opened fire with five shots into a crowd of children on a playground at a Carlsbad elementary school Friday, leaving two female students (ages 6 & 7) with minor gunshot (grazed by the bullets) injuries. Teachers and students escaped into the nearby classrooms from outside including the two injured female students. They were transported via Mercy Air to a local hospital for treatment.  

The assailant "sprayed" gunfire before apparently running out of ammunition and trying to flee. A nearby construction worker drove his vehicle and knocked the gunmen down as other nearby adults grabbed him. He was attempting to reload before he was stopped. There was a propane gas tank found in the gunman's car. At present it is not believed that the gunmen is associated with anyone at the school, making the school's selection as a random act of violence. The combination of the gas can the gunman carried coupled with the propane tank lead one to believe he had even more destructive intentions. (Note: The Columbine School shooting was actually designed as a propane bomb attack gone awry with the attackers planning on shooting the survivors as they tried to escape.)

The school, located approximately 35 miles north of San Diego, was placed on lockdown until further notice as police gathered evidence. Parents of students were asked to meet at Laguna Rivera Park, which is a short distance from the school. Counselors will be at the school Monday to help students, staff and families "handle the anxiety and fear that can result from a traumatic experience."

Points for Consideration:
  • Unfortunately violence at school can occur at anytime whether it is pre-planned or random. 
  • Developing a PREPAREDNESS Mindset is important. Think of school incidents not as IF whether something is going to happens but WHEN something happens .
  • Some questions to ponder:
    • What would you immediately do if you saw a suspicious person at your school or on school grounds? Demonstrating strange behavior (jumping a fence)?
    • What would you immediately do if you saw someone with a gun or a dangerous object ( a gas can)?
    • After an attacker was subdued what immediate actions would you take?
    • Does your school have a student reunification site at a remote location? Does the receiving remote location know they have been chosen as the site? Have you developed a plan and conducted a talk through /walk through between agencies? How will students be transported to that location? How will you maintain accountability during this process and when a parent asks "where is my child?"
  • Following an act of violence, the school (or surrounding area) is a crime scene until processed (hours, days) and cleared by law enforcement. You may not be able to go back into the building. Teacher's and driving student's car keys, purses, cell phones, jackets with wallets, etc. may not be available until the next day. If there was a bomb threat or incident may not be until much later....
  • If damage was done to the facility it needs to be repaired which is part of the recovery process. Who from the school or school district conducts this coordination and with what business? Identify these businesses ahead of time.
  • What children and staff saw what part of the incident? This is critical for determining potential witnesses and for on-scene and post-incident counseling.

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