On Tuesday, an active shooter entered the FedEx facility in Kennesaw, Georgia shortly before 0554 hours. He shot six people, then took his own life. The media coverage, as expected, was fevered. The coverage was accurate except for a few reports that continued to state that the gunman used an “assault weapon” after the Cobb County Police Public Information Officer specifically told the media that the suspect was found dead near a shotgun.
As you can imagine, there were many still photos posted and many of those photos showed a multitude of LEOs (law enforcement officers) from several departments. Many people felt the need to comment on the law enforcement response. While some of the comments were downright silly, most were complimentary and the rest were purely ignorant.
People criticized the LEO response as being “massive,” “disproportionate” and somehow indicative that the LEOs had nothing else to do or there were too many LEOs working in those departments. I guess I should be amazed, but these ignorant comments no longer surprise me.
The FedEx facility is massive. It is also not in a secluded area. Finally, the facility contains a multitude of employees. These three factors demonstrate that the law enforcement response was appropriate, planned and well-executed. People forget that the entire building must be searched. They also forget too quickly that the Virginia Tech shooter moved from one building to another and returned to the campus. People also forget that not all active shooters act alone. The general public forgets, but LEOs do not.
LEOs have trained for these events. Civilians can do the same through an excellent video that can be accessed at cobbcounty.org/nsc/.
The bottom line? Law enforcement agencies will send everyone they can to the scene to protect the people inside the building, people in the surrounding area and the public on the streets in the community. That is their mission. Other calls are pushed aside when the preservation of life is at stake.
There is one intangible element that can never be quantified. Did the rapid and massive response save lives? I will not go into the tactics of a law enforcement response to an active shooter to keep our LEOs safe. However, the sounds of sirens and the publicity surrounding extensive training and active shooter drills has to some extent put would-be shooters on notice; they will no longer have free run of a building for an extended period of time.
Everyone in the FedEx building was hoping every LEO in the area would show up, and they did. It is hard to argue that the pressure of time on the shooter caused by the law enforcement response did not save lives, but some may try to do so. There are two facts that cannot be overlooked in this situation. First, the shooting took place down the street from a police precinct, adjacent to a law enforcement outpost, and at the intersection of two police jurisdictions. However, the rapid law enforcement response was not quick enough to prevent the shooter from killing people before he took his own life.
Second, the facility was a “gun free zone” at the order of the company. The signs can be seen on the front door in the news photos. Bad guys don’t read signs. People need to be able to protect themselves.
The law enforcement response to this tragic event can be summed up in one word: excellent. Once again, LEOs ran toward a threat that makes others run away in fear. Before anyone feels the need to criticize the response, they should put in an application to work at the Cobb County Police Department, the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office, the City of Kennesaw Police Department, the Georgia State Patrol, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation or any of the other agencies that responded. They are all hiring.
Step to the plate and say, “Send me!” If you are not willing to do so and will not support those who do, then say nothing.
Lance LoRusso is an attorney, former LEO and founder of LoRusso Law Firm, PC in Marietta. His book, “When Cops Kill: The Aftermath of a Critical Incident” is available through www.whencopskill.com. Profits from the book will support law enforcement charities.