The next generation of active shooter response

The police can be part of the solution, even if they aren’t part of the action


On August 1, 1966, a troubled man killed his mother and wife with a knife, and then climbed the clock tower at the university he attended with a collection of guns and ammunition. The military-trained rifleman began to fire upon his fellow students and members of the community from the observation platform of the tower, located about 230 above the ground below.

Police responded to the scene at the University of Texas, Austin, and one of them was killed by a long distance shot from the sniper’s perch. Armed citizens and police officers with personal rifles fired upon the sniper’s position from the ground, and managed to suppress some of his fire, but were unable to stop him. That dangerous task was eventually accomplished by a team of two police officers and one armed citizen who executed a pincer movement on the shooter, and killed him with a shotgun. Sadly, that didn’t happen until after the shooter had killed 14 and wounded 31 during the 96-minute incident.

Early growth of active shooter response protocols

The “Texas Tower” shooting shocked the nation and concerned the law enforcement profession. Although the Austin Police Department officers (and armed citizen) showed great courage in assaulting the sniper’s position, it was clear that regular patrol officers lacked the training and equipment necessary to solve these problems quickly and efficiently – a better solution was needed.

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