Area school security expert addresses Florida shooting

Seventeen people were killed Wednesday at a Florida high school when a former student went on a shooting rampage. News 18 talked with one local school security expert from Benton County who says there were ways to prevent it.

Posted: Feb. 15, 2018 11:16 PM
Updated: Feb. 16, 2018 5:23 AM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Seventeen people were killed Wednesday at a Florida high school when a former student went on a shooting rampage. News 18 talked with one local school security expert from Benton County who says there were ways to prevent it.

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"One thing I would highly recommend is the more distance you put between the threat and the students, the better," said Scott Wealing, a school security expert.

Wealing has led active shooter trainings at Benton Central School Corporation and Kankakee Valley School Corporation.

"We try to get them to raise their situational awareness," said Wealing.

He believes the school in Florida did everything they could once shots were fired. However, he believes some things could have been done differently.

"One of those things is this: lockdown," said Wealing. "It's their fallback. It's their go-to. It's a bad idea."

Is there a time for a lockdown? Wealing said absolutely, but he feels it wasn't the best tactic in the Florida shooting.

"To go right ahead and lock people down in a room, on the floor laying there like sheep to the slaughter is a bad idea. I think the shooter pulled the fire alarm so the kids would come out in the hallway. Once they realized this is a trap, they went back into the classrooms. Could they start breaking out windows and getting out on that first floor? Absolutely. But they didn't," said Wealing.

Wealing also suggested that schools start considering layouts to make it harder for active shooters to reach faculty and students.

"One of my suggestions is ... where the entry control point is, if it does not funnel, that person who is coming into the school right to the office, you have a problem," said Wealing.

That way, the shooter isn't able to immediately turn into a hallway with classrooms.

Wealing said to help prevent a tragedy like this is to look for signs. He said school leaders need to pay attention to their student behavior and to their faculty.

"A good leader knows its people and the principal and the superintendent, they'll know hey is somebody going through a divorce, is somebody going through a hard time? Did they have family members die? That's always something to look into," said Wealing.

He said something else school districts need to think about is if a school has an automatic door lock. He said give access key cards to local law enforcement. That way officers can get into the school quicker.

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