Police officers stand along the Las Vegas Strip the Mandalay Bay resort and casino during a shooting near the casino, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, in Las Vegas.

Credit: John Locher/AP

Police Commissioner Evans Examines High-Rise Shootings In Wake Of Las Vegas Massacre

October 2, 2017

The high-rise shooting in Las Vegas on Sunday, Oct. 2 marks the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. The shooting occurred when a gunman opened fire from a window of the 32nd floor at the Mandalay Bay resort and casino, killing 58 people and injuring more than 500. Boston Police Commissioner Bill Evans joined WGBH's Morning Edition to discuss what training the Boston Police Department has done to handle a situation like this. Below is a condensed transcript of their conversation. Click on the audio player above to listen to the interview. 

Joe Mathieu: Commissioner Evans, we've heard before that a scenario like this one, in which a shooter has positioned his or her self on an upper floor, in this case the 32nd floor, is one of the real worries people like you have had in preparing for, hopefully avoiding events like this.

Commissioner Bill Evans: We’ve trained quite a bit on active shooter training, but getting up to [the] 32nd floor and trying to neutralize that suspect is always a fear. But we do train — because of the amount of colleges we work with here and hospitals — we do train on getting up to those upper floors and trying to get as many people out and neutralize that subject.

Mathieu: We have our own outdoor events, whether they're music festivals, not unlike the one that was targeted, or other events that we see on City Hall Plaza, on Boston Common and in different areas — you have a lot of experience dealing with open air events.

Evans: You never can control what can happen, and that's why, when we have these events now, we use blocking vehicles because of what's going on around the world. We always ask the public if they see something, say something, and that's why we say it — because unfortunately we get a 64-year-old guy here who acts out inside a Las Vegas hotel, that I don't think anyone could have anticipated. Clearly, it looks like a lone wolf from all the intelligence we're getting. But that's your worst fear, and it's sad that we lost over 50 people last night, and so many people are wounded, and that's why we need the public to be our eyes and ears.

Mathieu: The numbers are staggering, Commissioner. When you hear about a lone wolf, does that give you some reassuring sense that this is not a Boston story — that you don't in fact add to patrols or do anything differently here? Or do you in fact have a playbook locally for something like this that happens in another city?

Evans: No, when it is a lone wolf — and hopefully, that's all it is — at least you don't have that nexus to terrorism. When incidents like this happen, It really brings home why we do all this active shooter training. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there with mental health issues that we always worry about them getting their hands on these high-powered rifles and guns, which, again, it all comes back to me to there's way too many guns in the hands of people who shouldn't have them. 

Mathieu: Commissioner, will you address the patrolmen today? Will you address your officers on this or is this just part of daily life when you're working as a police officer?

Evans: Well, we'll get the word out. We send out alerts all the time. Over the weekend, what happened in France, what happened in Canada — those types of incidents where they sometimes act out at law enforcement — unfortunately, over the last several years the targets of ISIS and groups like that have been law enforcement. We'll put out what we call a brick report to all our officers, just, again,  letting them know what happened and always letting them know that we’ve become a target and to watch themselves out there.

Mathieu: Lastly, Commissioner Evans, when you're dealing with targeted officers as you're saying, it changes the tone of the story. I wondered if you could speak to that and if you expect to get any information on whether there were any locals — any people from Massachusetts or the city who were there.

Evans: Well, again, from what I understand, two officers were killed and another few were injured. So we always get our officers on alert, but we're hoping that there wasn't anyone out there that, hopefully, none of us know. I know it’s a tragedy to all those families. I can't believe how many people are going to be impacted by this senseless act of violence and again, it's someone with a high-powered rifle who can do so much damage. 


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