Theater Shooting Has Anchorage Considering Options
Questions regarding safety bring suggestions
ANCHORAGE - It’s a terrifying prospect: You are in a public place and the shooting begins. People in a Denver area movie theater lived that nightmare last week. Now people are questioning their safety in public places as well as wondering if that same scenario might have played out differently here in Anchorage.
There’s no doubt every minute of the assault was terrifying but police say the type of attack that happened in the Colorado theater almost always begins and ends fairly quickly.
“Most active attacks are over in 20 minutes,” says Anchorage Chief Mark Mew. “That’s how long they take on the average. One way or another they are settled in 20 minutes.”
That information has led to a change in how local police respond to situations where there is an active and ongoing attack. Instead, patrol officers who are often first on scene, have been taught how to respond.
“If you have an active attack where people are being actively shot or killed,” said Mew, “you are probably not going to wait for SWAT. We are going to go in and try and engage the threat and stop it.”
But when it comes to a medical response, Anchorage may be at a disadvantage. An event with mass casualties means local hospitals might be overwhelmed. With only eight ambulances to transport patients Assistant Fire Chief Erich Scheunemann says we could come up short and need to borrow resources.
“We can request ambulances from on base as well as we have two volunteer departments Chugiak and down in Girdwood that if they have the staffing they can bring in ambulances from there.”
Police say one thing that may have changed the outcome if the shooting had happened here: the number of people who carry legally concealed weapons. It’s possibly someone may have been able to take the shooter out before they managed to kill so many people.