Soft Target Falls to Hard Violence Unmitigated: SunTrust Bank Shooting

Few words carry quite the gravity within the private security and public safety arenas as, ‘active shooter.’ While the frequency with which these situations happen is often misinterpreted in an overly polarized and politicized climate, the threat is real, and businesses must account for their potential.

Wednesday January 23, 2019, a lone gunman entered SunTrust Bank in Sebring, FL with the intent to maim and destroy. The shooter reported his own actions, calling the local police and telling the dispatcher he had fired shots inside the bank.

After establishing a perimeter, police officers and sheriff deputies were unable to get the gunman to surrender through negotiation. Eventually SWAT teams breached the bank using an armored vehicle and apprehended the shooter. Upon retaking the building, officers discovered the bodies of five victims who had been murdered by the shooter prior to law enforcement’s arrival.

The five victims had been executed by the shooter who was armed with a handgun and a bullet resistant vest. An Indiana native, the shooter had been reported to Michigan State Police after a female reported him for stating he was considering “suicide by cop” and a desire to “take hostages.” When the authorities contacted his mother, she declined assistance.

Four of the slain victims were employees and one was a customer- all were females. One bank employee escaped when she heard gunshots in the front of the building. She exited through the back and contacted law enforcement. At the time of this article, the shooter is being held without bond on five charges of capital murder.

While specific details about the SunTrust bank are still unknown, it is reasonable to infer the location did not have a security presence at the time of the shooting. It is impossible to know exactly how an armed Security Officer might have affected the outcome of this situation. Whether by providing a deterrent through presenting a harder target or through physical intervention with defensive force, a security professional most certainly would have had some impact.

Simply placing an officer on the scene is not a cure-all to these sorts of situations. They are not invincible and, like any person, are limited in their ability to mitigate and respond. That being said, as part of a wholistic, integrated security plan, highly trained Security Officers, remote asset monitoring, mass notification and access control lockdowns all work together to drastically increase the survivability of a given property.

Security Engineers, Inc. does over 8,000 hours per week of security coverage for banks across the southeast, with specific training programs that address the unique characteristics of the financial environment. As we all know, financial institutions are not the only facilities at risk for the sort of violence displayed at SunTrust Bank. If you are not totally sure your facility/place of business is prepared to mitigate and/or respond to a violent crime, please use the boxes below to contact us at our Field Support Center. We can provide highly trained Security Officers (armed & unarmed) as well as site assessments/hazard vulnerability analyses, workplace violence/active shooter training and set you up for a more modern, integrated security solution by connecting manpower assets with superior technology- all while decreasing costs/risk at an incredible value!

Mark B. Quimby

Regional Manager

Security Engineers, Inc.