Focusing on lessons learned from Active Shooter Attacks
Week 2 – December 5, 2019
On December 7, 2017 a former student carrying a 9mm handgun disguised himself as a student and entered Aztec High School in Aztec, New Mexico. The shooter then opened fire in a hallway killing both Casey Jordan Marquez and Francisco “Paco” Fernandez. A 74-year-old substitute teacher, Katie Potter heard a custodian shouting “lock down” and she also recognized the sound of gunshots. Not having keys to her classroom door, she immediately rushed her 17 students into an office and barricaded the door with a couch. The shooter did fire multiple rounds into the office wall but did not injure or kill any of the students in Potter’s class. Her quick thinking and presence of mind to get her class out of sight and barricade the door saved all of their lives. After it was all over, she was ready to return the next school day and continue to teach!
If your building goes into lockdown, it is imperative that everyone inside and outside of the facility is notified immediately. A blue light notification system integrated with a panic button can be a solution. Placing blue lights in hallways and assembly spaces can serve as immediate visual notification during situations when the PA system cannot be heard by all. Mounting them on the exterior of your building will notify people that a lockdown condition is in place and to stay away until safe. Don’t rely on your smartphone.
Lesson Learned from the Aztec Tragedy:
Immediate notification of an active shooter in a building will save lives. It is pivotal that all students, staff and faculty are aware of what is happening no matter where they are located inside a school. Katie Potter recognized the sound of gunshots which isn’t always a distinguishable sound for many and she happened to hear the custodian call out lock down. Thankfully, she reacted appropriately and prevented a lot more students from being killed.