Saturday, May 03, 2014

See Something, Say Something

A real-life enactment of that simple phrase is probably what saved the lives of many, many students and staff at a small-town high school in Minnesota.

Waseca, Minnesota is a small town (about 10,000) south of Minneapolis.  It has one high school and it was discovered on Tuesday that a 17-year old student was planning a massacre.

From CNN:
There, police say, he told authorities of his plan to kill his mother, father and sister and start a fire in rural Waseca to distract first responders. Then, they say, he said he wanted to go to Waseca Junior and Senior High School, where he planned to set off various bombs during lunch, kill the school resource officer, set fires and then open fire on students.
According to CNN, he had taken guitar lessons for years with his sister and they often played music together.  About four months ago they stopped coming for lessons.

Teachers have been told not to talk to the media but several said there was nothing that showed this was coming.

Apparently, the suspect had been in trouble with the law as one juvenile facility refused to allow him to come because he had threatened a mental health counselor with a phone cord.  

Again, from CNN:
On Tuesday, a woman who lives next to a mini-storage facility saw a tall man walking through backyards to get to the facility.  He was struggling for about 10 minutes to get the door to one unit open.  He got it open and then shut the door behind him.  

From the Christian Science Monitor:

It all “just didn’t seem right to me,” she told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “We see people come and go with their trucks, and they don’t come on foot and cut through people’s backyards. It was like he was blatantly trying not to be seen. That’s why I thought it was odd.”

She called 911.

When officers arrived, they found LaDue, who at first appeared to taunt them and later said he would have shot at the officers if he’d had one of his guns handy. Inside the locker police found a lantern-lit scene of ammo boxes, a pressure cooker, a bomb ingredient known as iron oxide, and a scale. Later, at LaDue’s home, they found three prepared bombs and seven firearms, with ammo.

The suspect had written a 180-page journal of his plans, detailing his plans and feelings about the attack.  He had to-do lists and had experiments with different bombs (setting them off at a nearby elementary school playground).  He even had alternate plans if his original plan did not go as scheduled.  

Steve Albrecht, a threat assessment expert said this and it is valuable to remember:

Intuition worked in this case,” says Steve Albrecht, a threat assessment expert and author of the book “Ticking Bombs” about workplace and school shooters. “The idea that you can’t do much as just one person is wrong; you can do a lot. Something you say might become part of the momentum that gets cops or schools to investigate. Oftentimes we get stuck on motive [for school shootings]; what we’ve got to focus on is how to interrupt the opportunity.”

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