By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer
In the wake of a mass shooting in Florida and an active-shooter incident in Amarillo two days later, local law enforcement officials say they operate using the mindset of “not if … but when.”
“It’s something that most people probably don’t think about too often, but for law enforcement it’s an everyday thought, ” said Quay County Sheriff Russell Shafer, who explained that he often plays out mental scenarios about what he would do in the event of an active-shooter situation. He said every day he, deputies and fellow local law enforcement officers start work knowing that a potentially dangerous event might occur.
“The thought of an active-shooter situation is always in the back of our minds, but with recent events, it’s a much-recurring thought,” Shafer said.
On Sunday a gunman, later identified as 29-year-old Omar Mateen, shot and killed 49 people and injured 53 at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, before police shot and killed him.
Shafer said that as he was speaking with his deputies on Tuesday about active shooter procedures, a gunman entered a retail store in Amarillo and took hostages.
“Just like that an incident occurs in a nearby community,” Shafer said.
At 11 a.m. Tuesday, Amarillo Police Department officers responded to a report of a gunman at a retail store off of Interstate 27, according to police reports.
The gunman, later identified as 45-year-old Mohammad Moghaddan, was shot and killed by police officers and two hostages were rescued, according to a release from APD Special Crimes Unit coordinator Lt. Erick Bohannon.
“Officers have a heightened awareness about the recent active-shooting incidents that have occurred but such an incident was already in their thoughts,” said Tucumcari Deputy Police Chief Pete Rivera, who said officers have attended active-shooter training and participated in relevant scenarios. He said the officers know each day that an incident could occur and they prepare to respond to such an incident.
Shafer said he and deputies also have participated in active-shooter training and exercises. He said the training provides a great asset for his deputies, as well as developing good working relationships with surrounding law enforcement agencies.
Shafer said working with other agencies, such as the Tucumcari Police Department, allows each entity to make the most beneficial use of resources. He said by working together, “We could be better prepared to respond to an incident when it occurs.”