Four Active Shooter Events in the First 2 Weeks of April 2021

As the weather retreats across the nation and as more and more organizations are getting back to pre-Covid norms, the mental health effects of the past year are becoming clear.  We have been sounding the alarm for months, and tragically we were accurate in our warnings.  It brings us no joy to report these events, but its vitally important that the public is aware of the crisis our country is facing.  In just the first 12 days of April 2021, seven people are dead (one a 9-year old boy) and nine more were shot and injured (some critically) - the incidents spanned the country.  Following are the tragic accounts of these four active shooter events.

Four Active Shooter Events in the First 2 Weeks of April 2021

April 1, 2021 - Active Shooter United Homes - Orange, California

At least four people are dead, including a 9-year-old boy, in what authorities are calling a targeted attack in Orange, California.  Officers arrived at 202 W. Lincoln Ave around 5:30 p.m. local time Wednesday as shots were being fired. There were "multiple victims at the scene," according to the Orange Police Department.

The suspect, identified as Aminadab Gaxiola Gonzalez, 44, from Fullerton, entered the courtyard of the building and started “shooting into the windows,” according to a law enforcement source.  
Two officers tried to enter the courtyard but could not get through because the suspect locked it and an officer-involved shooting ensued. Officers were able to force entry through the gates and enter the courtyard. Upon entry, officers located the suspect, who was injured, and took him into custody. Police did not say if he was wounded from a self-inflicted shot.

Police said in a Thursday press conference the shooting centered around the office of Unified Homes, which specializes in the sales of mobile and manufactured homes.  Officials said the shooting appears to be an isolated incident and the suspect knew and had business or personal relationships with all of the victims. The child is believed to be the son of one of the victims, police said.  The names of the victims were not released pending next of kin notification but they were identified as a man, two women and the boy.

Investigators retrieved a semi-automatic weapon at the scene and a backpack with pepper spray, handcuffs and ammunition, which they believe belonged to suspect, police said. Police did not specify if the gun was registered to the shooter.  The suspect was shot in the head and taken to the University of California, Irvine Medical Center.  A female victim was also transported to the hospital in critical condition, according to Lt. Jen Amat of the Orange Police Department.

Police said the last shooting of this significance in Orange was in 1997.  Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said the 9-year-old “died in his mother’s arms as she was trying to save him during this horrific massacre.”

April 6, 2021 - Active Shooter Ft. Detrick Military Base - Frederick, Maryland

Two Navy sailors are wounded and a Navy medic is dead after an active shooter situation at a naval medical research center in Frederick Tuesday morning. The suspected gunman, the medic, was fatally shot at Fort Detrick by military personnel after making it a half-mile onto the Army base with a rifle, according to police.

Police were called for an active shooter situation at 8:20 a.m. in the Riverside Tech Park area, Frederick Police Chief Jason Lando said.  When officers arrived on scene they found two adult males injured. The victims were flown by helicopter to Baltimore, Lando said. One of the victims was released Tuesday afternoon, while the other remained in critical condition, the Navy said.

The 38-year-old suspect, who Navy Public Affairs confirmed was a Navy hospital corpsman, then traveled to nearby Fort Detrick and was subsequently shot and killed by base personnel, police said. The suspect had been stationed at Fort Detrick, base officials told ABC News.  Police identified the shooter as Fantahun Girma Woldesenbet.  Lando said that the suspect lives in Frederick, but not on the military base, and that he is an active member of the Navy.  Police said the suspect used a rifle to carry out the shooting, but would not identify what type of rifle or caliber.

The two sailors who were injured were hospital corpsmen and were coworkers with the shooter, according to Tommy Lamkin, a spokesman for the Naval Medical Research Center. All three worked at the Biological Defense Research Directorate that belongs to the Naval Medical Research Center. Lamkin would not speculate on the nature of the relationship between the suspect and the victims.  Authorities did not want to speculate on motive, because it was early in the investigation.

Lando also provided a bit more detail on the pursuit, saying it was about four minutes between the time the suspect entered the base to when he was neutralized. Police had issued a BOLO for his type of vehicle and he had been stopped for questioning at the main entrance. At that point Woldesenbet made his way around the guards and sped onto Fort Detrick, making it half a mile in before being cornered. He was then shot by the base's quick reaction force and succumbed to his wounds after 20 minutes of efforts to save his life.

Authorities said the timing of this incident is interesting because they were working up to full-scale active shooter training on the base next week.  "Our number one priority is the safety of our people," said U.S. Army Garrison Fort Detrick Commander Col. Dexter Nunnally. "Our emergency responders are well trained for these types of situations and the fast response of our military police enabled us to contain this threat quickly."  Fort Detrick and Frederick police are investigating the incident.

The police chief told ABC News that this is a regular occurrence in today's day and age.

"Like I said this morning, every time you turn on the news, there's something like this happening. Today it happened in Frederick, a week or so ago, it happened in Boulder, you know, it seems like every day so all we can do is, in a whether we're in the military and civilian law enforcement is assess our ability to respond."

UPDATE:  April 8, 2020 - Fort Detrick assesses emergency response after shootings.  In the wake of this week’s deadly shooting, Fort Detrick personnel are extending support services and assessing how to better prepare for the future, should another crisis occur.

On a normal day, Rodger Knepper serves as a financial readiness specialist and U.S. Army emergency relief officer for the military installation in Frederick, but during a catastrophic event, he becomes manager of the Emergency Family Assistance Center (EFAC). The EFAC is activated by the post’s commander during an emergency, which happened Tuesday when authorities say a 38-year-old U.S. Navy lab tech with a gun, Fantahun Girma Woldesenbet, breached a gate at Fort Detrick around 8:45 a.m. Fort Detrick’s civilian police department fatally shot the gunman about a half-mile into the grounds, police said.

The shooter came to Fort Detrick after reportedly firing at two fellow sailors in a storage warehouse off post, which is rented by the Naval Medical Research Center’s Biological Defense Research Directorate, according to the U.S. Navy and police.

As of Thursday evening, police did not release any updates on the investigation. A Frederick Police Department spokesman said one of the victims, 36-year-old Navy lab tech Carlos Portugal, was still in critical condition at the hospital. The other victim, Casey Nutt, a 26-year-old Navy lab tech, was released from the hospital Tuesday night. Within two hours of the commander’s call, Knepper said staff on post were ready to open a hotline.  Those who call the 24/7 hotline at 1-833-993-1042 can be connected to a wide array of resources. The hotline is set up in response to an emergency, so the number won’t be effective forever, but Army Community Services (ACS) Director Chris Watson said staff are exploring the possibility of setting up a permanent phone number.

“We’re here for them. We’re here to meet their needs. We’re here to assist the family members,” Watson said. He’s been at Fort Detrick since 2013 but said Tuesday marked the first time he’d seen the EFAC activated at the post, though they’ve trained for active shooter scenarios.

“Those practices were very beneficial,” Watson said. “I think that played a big piece in also limiting the fear.”  Coincidentally, there was a plan to run an active shooter training exercise in the next few weeks, Public Affairs Supervisor Lanessa Hill said.  “Everybody did exactly what they were all trained to do,” she said.  However, that doesn’t mean Fort Detrick staff aren’t finding ways to improve.

A “very small number” of people on post said they did not hear the public announcement warning amplified from towers across Fort Detrick Tuesday, according to Hill, which was quickly resolved by increasing the volume.

“We heard people were outside and didn’t hear the towers going off,” Hill said.

While Fort Detrick does not rely solely on the PA system to warn residents of an emergency, Hill acknowledged it’s important to address any gaps in their emergency response.

Another way those living or working at Fort Detrick can stay up-to-date is through a Department of Defense (DOD) alert system, Hill said, but not every person on post is affiliated with DOD and able to receive those alerts.  Hill said Fort Detrick staff will be better able to evaluate its emergency response once the investigation is complete.

April 8, 2021 - Active Shooter Kent Moore Cabinets - Bryan, Texas

A suspect is in custody after police say he shot several people (7 shot, 1 killed) in a series of incidents that began near a business near Bryan, Texas on Thursday.

Police say the suspect shot a total of seven people over the span of a few hours Thursday in eastern Texas. One person was killed, and as of Thursday evening, four people remain in critical condition and a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper is in "serious but stable" condition.

The incident began at around 2:30 p.m. local time Thursday when six people were shot near Kent Moore Cabinets in Bryan, Texas. One person was found dead at the scene. Four people were transported to St. Joseph Health in Bryan in critical condition. One person was taken to St. Joseph Health College Station Hospital with minor injuries.

The suspect fled the scene before officers could arrive.  About an hour later, law enforcement confronted the suspect in Iola, Texas — located about 30 miles northeast of Bryan. The suspect shot at police, leaving one DPS Tropper injured. He was life-flighted to St. Joseph Health in Bryan and is in serious but stable condition.  The suspect was finally taken into custody at 4:20 local time in Bedias, Texas, located 10 miles east of Iola.

Police have identified the suspect as 27-year-old Larry Bollin of Grimes County, Texas. He has been charged with murder and booked into the Brazos County Sheriff's Office and is being held on $1 million bond.  Bryan PD says Bollin is an employee of Kent Moore Cabinets, where the initial shooting took place. They have not yet confirmed a motive for the shooting.

Kent Moore Cabinets took to Facebook Thursday, saying they are cooperating with police and are focusing on their employees and their families.

April 12, 2021 - Active Shooter Austin-East Magnet High School - Knoxville, Tennessee

One student was killed and a police officer was injured Monday in a shooting at a high school in Tennessee, authorities said.  Gunfire erupted after officers in Knoxville responded to a report of an armed person at Austin-East Magnet High School on Monday afternoon, Knoxville police said in a statement.

At 3:15 p.m. local time, police responded to a report of a male who was possibly armed in the school. Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rausch said police found the suspect in a school restroom. Police ordered him out, but he refused.

Two responding officers found the person, later identified as a student, inside a school bathroom, said David Rausch, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.  "He reportedly fired shots, striking an officer," Rausch told reporters. "One officer returned fire."  The officer was struck at least once in the leg and remained in serious condition at a local hospital, Knoxville Police Chief Eve Thomas said.

Neither the officer nor the student was identified. It wasn't clear if the student was planning to use the gun inside the school. 

Earlier, Knox County Schools Superintendent Bob Thomas, who called the incident "tragic" said that the school had been secured and that students who weren't involved were being released to their families.

State and federal authorities responded, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. In a news conference about students' returning to in-school learning, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee asked people to pray for the victims and their families.

Rausch added that Monday was the first day of "National Youth Violence Prevention Week" in Knoxville, a campaign aimed at blunting violence among young people.

"This is a tough way to start a week that you’re focusing on trying to keep people safe," he said.

No classes will be held at Austin-East on Tuesday and Wednesday, Knox County Schools tweeted.

The Austin-East Magnet High School in Knoxville was founded in 1968 and is the county's only magnet school for performing arts, according to the school's website.

There are 642 students currently enrolled at the school, which is staffed with 154 employees, including teachers, principals and support staff.

Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon told WVLT that the wounded officer is conscious and "in good spirits." The officer, who has not been named, is being treated at UT Medical Center.

"He said he'd rather be hurt than anybody else," Kincannon said.

The Message is Loud and Clear - Are We Listening?

As reports of these active shooter events become more and more commonplace, what is the message that society should be hearing?  Many will insist on more gun-control measures, and there are likely valid arguments for this on both sides of the debate - but legislation and the changing of laws takes time.  Lots of time.  Many will advocate for great mental health resources for communities, again, there are valid and sound justifications for these measures as well - but implementing any mental health programs, identifying potential recipients, and mental health treatment all take ample amounts of time. 

So what can we do now?  Today?  This very moment to protect those we love and cherish?  Fiscally, as business owners, what can we do to shield ourselves from potential liability should an active shooter event happen in our communities?  How can we prepare?

The BIG PICTURE answer is straight-forward....we must acknowledge that it can happen to anyone, anywhere, at anytime.  The reality is that no matter where you live or work, you could potentially be impacted by an active shooter event.  While regarded as very unlikely, active shooter events are becoming more commonplace as every year passes.  

Three Things You Can Do to Protect Your Organization


Active Shooter Training

There are many publicly available training programs for active shooter events.  Programs like 'Run-Hide-Fight' and 'A.L.I.C.E.' focus on educating people about what an active shooter event means, how they often occur, and how people are most likely to survive the crisis event.  Having an Action Plan is of the utmost importance for ANY AND ALL organizations where the public interacts.

Active Shooter Drills

Once an action plan has been developed, and training has occurred, it is imperative that organizations practice, practice, practice.  History has proven, over and over, that during a crisis event our response generally always rises to the level of our training.  Training is only as effective as the amount of it we remember.  To remember training, practice is key to developing muscle memory that can be recalled when a crisis strikes.  Did you know that many people who have not been trained in crisis events often lose complete control of their senses?  Reports of auditory and visual impairments are common.  Time can stand still.  Motion can be accelerated or can completely slow to a near crawl.  Fine motor skills are depleted.  Memory is often nearly incapacitated (many have even forgotten where they are, what their name is and more).  Our brains work in mysterious ways and any level of incapacity caused by a crisis can cost you your life.  By training on a regular basis, you can reduce these critical weaknesses so that your acuity is functioning at a higher level during a life-threatening event.  "Without too much trouble, we can teach our brains to work more quickly, maybe even more wisely, under great stress." says Peter Hancock who has been studying human performance for more than 20 years for the US Military.  Scientists who study the brain's fear response can now see which parts of our brains light up under stress.  Military researchers conduct elaborate experiments to try to predict who will meltdown in a crisis and who will thrive.  Police, soldiers, race care drivers, and helicopter pilots train to anticipate the strange behaviors they will encounter at the worst of times.  They know its too late to learn those lessons in the midst of a crisis.  (The Unthinkable - Who Survives When Disaster Strokes and Why, by Amanda Ripley).

Critical Incident Response Technology

During a crisis event like an active shooter, when many (if not all) people involved will be experiencing some depletion of motor skills, having a plan to summon help is by far one of the most important keys to survival.  That is, calling the professionals for help and making sure they have the right information IMMEDIATELY so that response can be IMMINENT.  Traditional methods of contacting the police have proven to be ineffective many times over as people experiencing the life-threatening situation have a difficult time remaining calm and communicating the information that police need to respond.  This is where ASR comes in.

ASR Alert Systems is patented state-of-the-art critical incident response technology specializing in the field of alert notifications to Law Enforcement and First Responders in the event of an active shooter or other crisis. Our technology can be customized to any industry, building, or event. We deliver customer-specific technology unmatched by anyone.

Our critical incident response technology uses hard-mounted buttons, mobile pendants and an optional mobile phone application to DIRECTLY communicate with first responders in the area to significantly decrease response times to an active threat or crisis situation.  

Having dedicated hardware that is readily accessible and easy to operate is KEY when it comes to life-saving tools.  The methodology utilized to place the ASR Alert button stations is different for every client and/or organization. By having a dedicated button that is mounted in convenient locations (such as in a classrooms or near office doors) or wearing a pendant, staff can activate an alert to staff and provide law enforcement with all of the necessary information to respond with the PRESS OF A BUTTON. By depressing the ASR Alert Button, Law Enforcement Dispatch know the location name, address, location within the facility, and type of emergency.

ASR offers the best commercial critical incident response technology solution in the industry. Our reliable and redundant methods of alerting persons who are in danger, as well as providing the fastest notification to law enforcement by communicating directly with police dispatch are not matched and we hold the patent on this direct communication technology.  

Its up to you to determine how you prepare.  As we continue to see active shooter events across the country, its no longer acceptable to assume it can never happen in a particular community.  Let ASR show you how to prepare for the best possible outcome should an active shooter situation  happen in your building.  SCHEDULE A VIRTUAL DEMONSTRATION FOR YOUR ORGANIZATION TODAY.  We are confident that it will be the most informative 20 minutes of time you will ever commit to spending on your safety.

Have questions or wish to schedule a virtual demonstration? Please contact us below.