Police Fear Vegas Shooting Could Prompt Copycats

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Law enforcement experts predict that Sunday’s Las Vegas mass shooting will alter police training to include more of a focus on the threat posed by high-rise snipers or others who kill from long distances, reports the New York Times. “This is a paradigm shift,” said John Urquhart, sheriff in Seattle’s King County. While police will continue to train for mass shootings that follow the more common pattern where the gunman is closer to victims, Urquhart said the Las Vegas attack might have an impact similar to the 1999 Columbine massacre. That shooting led departments to retrain patrol officers to confront a gunman instead of waiting for a SWAT team.

The options for taking down high-rise snipers armed with assault-style weapons are limited. Some larger, urban departments already train for an elevated gunman, said Mark Lomax, formerly of the National Tactical Officers Association. After the Las Vegas massacre, “there is going to be a lot more emphasis on out-of-reach situations, whether from a high-rise tower or a bridge,” said Lomax. Ordering sharpshooters to fire on a high-rise from a distance could also mean shooting into a room that might include hostages. “You can’t have a bunch of cops on the ground shooting up with their patrol rifles,” Urquhart said. Some experts fear that other potential gunman, having seen the devastation in Las Vegas, will try similar tactics. “Almost every school shooter since Columbine has made reference to Columbine. We know they study one another,” said Arvada, Co., Police Sgt. A.J. DeAndrea. “This could lead to a copycat syndrome, and we’d be remiss if we don’t find ways to address it.”

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