Friday, March 02, 2007

Utah Mall Shooting Learning Points and Details

This is stolen from one of the many email lists that I'm on, and I thought that this would be well preserved here on my blog so that I could refer to it, and pass it along to others when necessary.

Posted by: "Autumn Rose Press" talks2crows Thu Mar 1, 2007 9:45 am (PST)

Off Duty? Outside Scope? On Vacation? Out with the family?

Things to think about.

Does your unit, department, gang, club, or social shooting group, teach and practice, hand and arm signal communications?

Have you trained your family how to respond in an active shooter situation?

ATAC bulletin: More Info on Salt Lake City Mall Shooting

Here are some observations on last week's Salt Lake City mall shooting from Ken Wallentine, Chief of Law Enforcement for the Utah Attorney General and president of Public Safety Solutions, a public safety consulting company.

There are many rumors swirling around this week's shooting at Trolley Square in Salt Lake City, Utah. Not a great deal is known about the suspect, but the Salt Lake City PD is leading the investigation and doing an incredible job.

Here are a few certain facts about the incident:

1. Salt Lake City Police Department took note of the Columbine tragedy, as did many departments. SLCPD, as well as the Utah Police Academy, added active shooter training to basic training. SLCPD also staged an active shooter drill in one of the city's large downtown shopping malls, with the help of instructors from LAPD. The SLCPD officer who entered the Trolley Square mall had been involved in the simulated mall shooting drill as instructors.

2. Off-duty Ogden PD officer was dining with his wife, an off-duty Ogden PD Dispatcher, when he heard the shots. The dispatcher wife called in the shooting, providing a detailed description of her husband, who advanced to engage the shooter.

3. A patrol sergeant, Andy Oblad, was on patrol in the area. He immediately entered the mall and teamed up with the off-duty Ogden PD officer, Ken Hammon, to halt the shooter's advance toward more victims and pin him down. Sgt. Oblad recognized the off-duty officer from the dispatch description (obtained from the off-duty dispatcher/spouse who is equally a hero).

4. Within 3 minutes of dispatch, an active shooter team from Salt Lake City PD SWAT was moving in. That's THREE MINUTES of the call dispatch. Sgt. Josh Scharman, Detective Dustin Marshall and Detective Brett Olsen formed the contact team. SWAT officers work regular duty in the Gang Unit and are on duty in high call volume hours. The contact team entered the mall, saw the shooter firing on Sgt. Oblad and Officer Hammon, and ordered the suspect to drop the weapon. The suspect turned to the contact team and was instantly neutralized as a threat. A diagram of the event can be found at: http://www.sltrib. com/ci_5223643

5. --The 2002 Winter Olympics moved our valley (and adjoining areas) to full interoperability of comms systems. It worked in 2002 and in worked better last Monday. Radio interoperability is critical (duh!). Now we need to create full statewide interoperability.

6. --Incident Command was up and running with SLCPD Deputy Chief Scott Atkinson in command within an incredibly brief window of time. The Sheriff and Utah Department of Public Safety support groups took their cues from the Incident Commander, just like it is supposed to work. Highway Patrol moved off the freeways into downtown to quickly and solidly lock down a huge perimeter. DPS Air Support gave the eye in the sky and lighting support. No ego problems, no clashes, no delays.

7. --The rumor that there were seven other off-duty officers unarmed in the mall at the time is absolutely groundless.

A few facts about the shooter:

1. Sulejman Talovic came to the United States from Bosnia with his family when he was 5 years old. HIs family was relatively affluent in Bosnia and wanted to leave the violence of the civil war. His father, Sulio Talovic, stated that he did not know what drove his son to commit mass murder, but he believed that someone else motivated his son to do the killings and someone else supplied the weapons. Though the father was surprised by the act, there are clues that seem to fit the profile of school

2. There is no evidence that this was a directed act.

3. Sulejman Talovic regularly attended the local Muslim mosque until a recent job change caused him to miss services. His father is well-known in the Muslim community, but active mosque participants say that they did not really know Sulejman Talovic.

4. There is no evidence that the killings are related to Sulejman Talovic's Islamic beliefs or to the Salt Lake City mosque or Muslim community. It appears that the religious affiliation played no role in the killings.

5. Though juvenile court records are sealed, there are credible reports that Sulejman Talovic committed a rock-throwing assault at age 10 and an aggravated assault with a knife at age 12, as well as a report of an un-prosecuted aggravated assault with a knife against his landlord. The landlord did not believe that he was in actual danger.

6. There is a credible report that Sulejman Talovic was disciplined in school and then dropped out just over two years ago for violating school policy by studying AK47 assault rifles on school computers.

7. Despite irresponsible claims by Jack Thompson, known for his First Amendment legal views, there is presently no evidence that the "Salt Lake City Teen Probably Trained on Grand Theft Auto Video Game for Mall Massacre. " It makes for nice headlines, but the investigation is still in very early stages.

Some lessons that I have been urging upon my own staff during the past week:

1. Be ready, all times, all places, all conditions. It may sound trite, but the first rule of a gun fight it to have a gun. I'm asking my officers to remember that they work for a chief who encourages off-duty carry, allows and encourages secondary weapons.

2. You don't drive a cruiser without a spare tire. Don't carry a gun without additional ammo. --Active shooters require active response. Train now.

3. Comms interoperability works!

4. Train with your spouse on how you will respond. Help save your own life by rehearsing off-duty response. Several years ago, I added this element to the Mental Preparation for Combat class that I teach at each Utah Police Academy session. I ask the officers to bring their spouses to the class.

5. Carry a go-bag in the car. My officers all have unmarked police vehicles which they may use off-duty. Many of my staff have duties that take them to rural areas of our state where they may be the only back-up within twenty or thirty miles to a first responder. My staff is directed to re-read my article on preparation: Mission Readiness: Emergency Preparation for the Law Enforcement Officer, The Utah Peace Officer, Fall 2006. Go to: and click on "Mission Readiness." Additionally, read the articles of my friend, fellow chief and warrior, Jeff Chudwin, that regularly appear at

6. When the crisis comes, it will be the first cops on the scene who can make a difference. Officer Ken Hammon, Sgt. Andy Oblad, Sgt. Josh Scharman, Detective Dustin Marshall and Detective Brett Olsen proved it once again. Hooah!

(See diagram of Utah Mall Shooting on Next Page)

http://www.sltrib. com/ci_5223643

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