Alameda Co. Sheriff describes tactics department would use to respond to mass shooting

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Saturday, May 28, 2022
Local sheriff describes tactics used to respond to mass shooting
After failed tactics in Uvalde, Texas, ABC7 News sat down with Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern to see how they would respond to a mass shooting.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- After the failed tactics in Uvalde, Texas where 19 children and two teachers were killed in a mass shooting at an elementary school, ABC7 News contacted Bay Area experts about how "we" would respond to a situation of this kind.

We sat down with Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern. His deputies have been training for situations like this since 2007.

"40 minutes seems like it's a way too long of a time to allow that to go on," said Sheriff Ahern.

VIDEO: Official says police made 'wrong decision' not to enter classroom

Children were inside the classroom with the gunman for 35 minutes, making 911 calls.

Luz Pena: "The suspect is barricading himself inside a classroom what would have been your response?"

Sheriff Ahern: "We have breaching tools and we have ballistic shields and we have our patrol rifles. You would use a combination of those and breach the entrance with the protection of the ballistic shield and fire at the suspect from behind the ballistic shield," and added, "Officers know the area. We teach and train them. They then get as close to the suspect as they can without being detected. They engage immediately to that suspect and put rounds towards the suspect so you distract the suspect from killing others."

Texas officials admitted they did not implement the correct tactic.

"There were 19 officers in there, in fact, there were plenty of officers to do whatever needed to be done. With one expectation that the incident commander inside believed they needed more equipment and more officers to do a tactical breach at that point," said Director of Texas Dept. of Public Safety Col. Steven McGraw.

VIDEO: 4th grader played dead to survive while gunman shot classmates, aunt says

As bullets rained out in her fourth-grade classroom at Robb Elementary, 11-year-old Miah Cerillo put blood on herself and played dead, her aunt said.

Former FBI agent Rick Smith said Uvalde's incident commander made a tactical error by misidentifying the threat.

"They didn't have the luxury of time for that," said Smith. "They had an active shooter that they thought changed to a barricaded situation so they waited and it didn't change. It was still an active shooter," said Smith.

Sheriff Ahern said his team wouldn't have taken so long to respond.

"There have been studies done throughout that United States. The average time is about eight minutes to go to any type of event but those studies take into account rural areas," said Sheriff Ahern. "Those are a very long time of responding to. Our areas are more urban-like and we can get to our sites a little sooner than let's say Texas. We also have better training and we believe we have better equipment."

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