Overview

The Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School Shooting in Parkland, Florida lasted 5 minutes and 33 seconds. The shooter was arrested 80 minutes after the first shots were fired.

This delay in police response was largely caused by a lack of actionable information. AI threat detection systems can close this gap, turning any camera into a gun-detecting smart camera, enabling real-time responses to gun violence.

The Problem

During the Parkland shooting, police didn’t know where the shooter was located, his appearance, and his armaments, limiting their ability to respond.

Schools have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into camera systems, but don’t have the budget to monitor them. This creates key information gaps that limit security systems’ effectiveness during a crisis.

 

Key Information Gaps

Lack of Eye Witnesses

The gunman never entered a classroom, instead firing through windows and doors. This limited casualties, but also meant few bystanders had a clear view of the perpetrator, leaving police without a reliable description when they arrived on-scene.

Limited Early Warning

The shooting started on the ground floor. Students and staff on the 2nd floor heard gunshots and went into lockdown. This early warning meant there were no casualties on the 2nd floor. Staff and students on the 3rd floor did not receive this early warning, and numerous casualties resulted, because no systems were in place to share information during a shooting.

Tactical Confusion

The School Resource Officer, Deputy Scott Peterson, learned about the shooting within a minute of the first shot, but didn’t know where shots were coming from. Deputy Peterson said in an interview that “chaos, miscommunication and [the understanding] that shots were being fired outside by a sniper” limited his ability to respond.

No Tracking

Sheriff’s Office Deputies arrived 4 minutes after the first shots were fired but they never identified where shots were coming from and had no ability to track the perpetrator. The first reports of the location and appearance of the shooter came 8 minutes after the first shot had been fired. By then, the gunman had fled the scene and there was little clear information on where he was headed.

Lessons Learned

Prioritize Fast, Actionable Information

911 callers were unable to provide timely and accurate information. Responding officers didn’t learn the appearance of the gunman until he had already stopped shooting and left the facility. Real-time weapon detection would have allowed existing cameras to provide law enforcement with instant alerts to a threat, accelerating their response.

A groups of school students walking in a white hallway.

Leverage Existing Systems

Because the gunman didn’t enter classrooms, students and staff could not identify the gunman and warn others. This strategy also kept him in view of hallway cameras. A system that uses existing cameras to proactively identify threats will ensure that law enforcement and building occupants have a clear view of the threat, maximizing their ability to respond, while minimizing security investment.

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