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Bob Parker

Bob Parker

Lt. Robert Parker served with the Omaha (Neb.) PD for 30 years and commanded the Emergency Response Unit. He is responsible for training thousands of law enforcement instructors in NTOA's Patrol Response to Active Shooters courses.

Doug  Wyllie

Doug Wyllie

Doug Wyllie has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips aimed at ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

Jose Medina

Jose Medina

Officer Jose Medina is an active member of the Piscataway (N.J.) Police Department's SWAT team and runs Awareness Protective Consultants (Team APC) tactical training.

Campus IED Attack: What Would You Do?

How would you handle an active-shooter attack with an IED component?

May 29, 2013  |  by Bob Parker - Also by this author

Inert Products produces a non-explosive suicide vest for police training.
Inert Products produces a non-explosive suicide vest for police training.
Regardless of whether we classify terrorists as anarchists, Islamist jihadists, nationalists or American right-wing extremists, their logic always contains a common thread. They believe the government is violating their rights and brutalizing them. Their always twisted and tortured logic calls for murder and injury to innocents, regardless of age or gender, to make the point. They believe that the more innocents they hurt, the more the government will be responsive to their demands.

The April 15 bombing at the Boston Marathon's finish line will likely start a new wave of terrorism in the U.S. Although the explosion and resulting casualties didn't reach the magnitude of the Oklahoma City bombing, the desired effect was realized. The Boston metropolitan area lived in fear for nearly a week until the suspects were killed or captured. Remember the terrorist mantra, "kill one man, and terrorize a thousand."

For some time, many in law enforcement have expected an increase in bombing incidents in this country. Europe, the Middle East, southwest Asia, and Africa have been subjected to terrorist IEDs for years. It seems to be a matter of time before it comes to our shores with a greater frequency than we have experienced.

Patrol and SWAT units will be the first responders that will meet this threat head on. With this in mind, here's a scenario for you to consider. Read it and add a comment below about how you would handle it. Here it is: 

Two active shooters have attacked a middle school in your city. They are using firearms and there are reports of small explosions in the school. Calls to 911 indicate multiple casualties. The school resource officer (SRO) is among those down. You are the commander of a four-officer contact team. Your team assembles at the main door on the north side of the school. As you start to enter, radio advises that the suspect vehicle is a 20-foot box truck parked on the east side of the school.

Students and teachers are fleeing past you. Several of them tell you that the shooters are killing with their guns, described as handguns, and throwing explosives with fuses. They also tell you that the focal point of the attack is in the library, 100 feet down a hallway, and to the right.

You and your team start moving fast in that direction. The hallway is full of backpacks and several dead students. The double doors to the library are open. A wounded student runs out and tells you the suspects are still shooting at survivors of the initial attack and lighting small grenade-type explosives and throwing them. He believes there are still six students in the library.

You hear more shots and an explosion. As you cross the threshold into the library, your left flanker sees a pressure cooker with wires sitting on the library checkout desk. He shouts out a warning about a possible IED, just as one of the suspects comes out from behind a bookshelf and starts to engage your team.

What would you do now? Think out your priorities and dangers, and then decide on your course of action with the information provided. We'll give you the best way to handle this scenario in a follow-up blog.

Bob Parker is the Patrol Section chair for the National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA).

Comments (4)

Displaying 1 - 4 of 4

Rick @ 5/30/2013 3:04 PM

Prepare for such an event before it happens; purchase a plate carrier and armor and have it with you in the trunk along with a 'go bag' with a first aid kit and extra mags for both a pistol and rifle, and don't forget a helmet. Don the armor and sling the go bag; search for and engage the threats. Eliminate the threat by pinning them down or by disabling them by shooting them. the carnage usualy subsides when officers get rounds on the threat.

Ima Leprechaun @ 5/31/2013 6:22 AM

[email protected] your response is supposed to be based upon that situation and not having prior knowledge of those events, so preparing afterwards helps you not. Just about everyone since Columbine have adapted the four man tactical entry team. So that would be the response. Given only the information from above you do the best you can do to cover innocent students and give them a way out and protect yourselves. I do not believe in the Kobayashi Maru situation, every scenario is fluid and different. The above incident intentionally stacks everything against the officers which is rarely true in real life. Given the above situation protecting the innocent and removing them from harm is job one. Second are dealing with the suspects and if you knew in advance that was the suspects truck then your units would block it in place. You do what you have to do to save lives and you worry about the rest later. Back packs are everywhere so they are now part of the landscape and sometimes you just have to do what you need to do. This would be the most I could say in a public forum since not all bloggers here are in Law Enforcement and I would not share anything more.

Ima Leprechaun @ 5/31/2013 6:28 AM

Also not about this situation but everytime the media tells everyone how to make bombs the children all across the country will be bomb making all summer long. They will do it just to see if they can and not for any hedious reasons. When McGyver was on TV we had McGyver bombs in mailboxes for about a year. The kids just wanted to see if they could make them and mailboxes are fairly easy to blow up. This summer will be no different since the media has told everyone how to make bombs. Kids will be experimenting and some already have been.
You can thank the media for the bombings we will have this summer.

Capt. Crunch @ 5/31/2013 9:58 AM

i would block all entrances and exits of the school (with the exception of children leaving for the safty zone) and disable suspect vehicle and have traffic units stop all traffic within 1/4 mile of school and ID all traffic leaving area. Respond to library (checking all rooms and hallways leading to library, shoot suspect exiting bookself and then contain library area. If possible send a robot into library to defuse any bombs and see out lay of library. I would also have a sniper outside of library able to shoot suspect. I would advise suspect by phone or PA that building is surrounded and to release chlidren. If the suspect refuses i would contct sniper by radio and ascertain if he/she could take suspect out without injury to children. If the answer is yes I will give the sniper the green light to fire. If the answer is no I will still keep the area contained and wait for the Swat negotiating to arrive.

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