On Tuesday, July 30, 2013, police were called to the Trillium Theater in Grand Blanc Township on a report of a man wearing a bulletproof vest (BPV) and in possession of a gun was in the theatre. Cassidy Delavergne was found wearing a BPV and in possession of a gun as he sat among theatre goers. Delavergne was held for a mental examination after his arrest.
The police located Delavergne as he was watching a movie. Delavergne did not outwardly threaten any of the movie goers. The oddity of an armed individual wearing a BPV among a crowd of people required a quick and prudent police response to circumvent a potential. As the police approached Delavergne, he identified himself to be a federal agent and produced a fake CIA ID badge.
Delavergne was taken into custody without incident. He was in possession of a 9 mm semi-automatic firearm and 34 rounds of ammunition. This led to a search of Delavergne’s car, where an additional 111 rounds of ammunition was confiscated.
Of greatest concern is that Delavergne is licensed as a Michigan concealed carrier. His arrest is based solely on a federal offense of possessing fraudulent government identification. Charges were not filed against Delavergne for wearing a BPV when he was considered armed and dangerous. Once processed, Delavergne was released on a bond.
There are several questions for which the investigators are seeking answers. First, what did Delavergne intend to do as he sat in the movie theater? Did the officers circumvent a potential Active Shooter Incident (ASI)? Did Delavergne initially plan to initiate an ASI, but had a change of mind? Was this a practice run for Delavaegne?
It is common for an Active Shooter (AS) to survey a target area to gain information. Also, was this the first-time Delavergne was at the theater wearing a BPV as he carried a gun? How long ago did he purchase the BPV? Where did he purchase the BPV? Why did he purchase a BPV?
Delavergne never challenged the police officers when questioned. Even though he quickly reached to produce a fake CIA ID card, the police did not overreact to his movements. The police are to be complemented for controlling Delavergne, the scene, and coordinating with the FBI.
The sight of a man seated in a theater audience reminds us of James’ actions prior to initiating a killing spree at the 2012 “The Joker” shooting in Aurora, Colorado. When the shooting ended, 12 people were killed and 70 wounded during the premier of “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Since James Holmes acted in Aurora, other incidents have occurred where either firearms were brought to a theater or a plan to bring firearms to a theater was circumvented. The question before us is our theatres drawing the attention of a potential AS?
An ASI in a school or workplace environment generally is the product of perceived victimization, which becomes justification for the AS to act out against those he perceived, wronged him and may also act out to seek recognition or to achieve the top score. Quite simply, top score is the highest amount of people killed during an ASI. The goal sought by a potential AS is to surpass the amount of people killed previously.
James Holmes had set a top score of people killed and injured at a movie theater. This requires law enforcement to handle any incident reporting a person armed with a weapon at a theater as a potential threat.
In November, 2012, police in Bolivar Missouri arrested 20-year-old Blaec Lammers who was prepared to massacre innocent citizens as did James Holmes. No incident in Bolivar ever occurred. People did not have their lives stolen from them. Lammers’ mother notified police of his strange behavior and the Bolivar Police took steps which demonstrate that intervention CAN stop the shooting before it begins.
Both Holmes of Aurora and Lammers of Bolivar were a threat to themselves and others. In Aurora, the local police were never forewarned. The difference in Bolivar is Lammer’s mother notified police. She had the courage to inform the police, despite the pain it must have caused her as a parent.
In both Aurora and Bolivar, concerns arose over the conduct and mental status of a young man. The University of Colorado did not notify the local police of Homles’ aberrant behavior. Dr. Lynne Fenton, a University psychologist did notified University administrative staff as well as the campus police of her concerns regarding Holmes. These notifications occurred approximately one month prior to Holmes arriving at the Aurora Theater.
The similarities among Holmes, Lammers, and Delavergne is that all of them were arrested. Each was required to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. The differences are Holmes acted out as an AS at a theater; Lammerers was arrested on a Friday, (2 days before he was prepared to implement his plan). Delavergne was arrested at a theater for placing himself in an environment similar to Holmes. Delavergne’s intentions remain under investigation.
These three incidents demonstrate an ASI CAN be stopped before it begins! Response by law enforcement is an excellent tool, but it must become the second option. The primary option is intervention. The names of Lammers and Delavergne will fade away in time. The reason for this is simple. Neither of them injured or killed another because the police were notified beforehand. That did not happen in Aurora. The police department was not given the opportunity to intervene before Holmes began his killing spree.
Forever more law enforcement will be concerned with the top score. Across the United States, police departments have demonstrated it responds well when called upon. Our police departments have also demonstrated how well they investigate and intervene when provided the opportunity to investigate a potential. It is a basic scientific principle that the first party initiating force against the other will win. If that concept is understood the next question is why do we let the AS go first? If you see something; say something!
Jim Gaffney, MPA is Law Enforcement Today’s risk management /police administration contributor. He has served with a metro-New York police department for over 25 years in varying capacities, culminating with Executive Officer and PIO. He is a member of ILEETA, IACP, IACSP, and FBI – LEEDA. Jim is a Certified Force Science Analyst. He mentors law enforcement’s next generation as an adjunct criminal justice professor in the New York City area. Jim brings the street into the classroom to prepare students today for their roles as police officers tomorrow. He is CEO of Bright Line Consulting and can be reached via www.brightlinepoliceconsulting.com
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