LASD responded in force to this morning’s reported active shooters at two Palmdale high schools. It now appears the incident was a dispute between two students, the Los Angeles Times is now reporting.
Though information is still coming in, it appears one student was shot in the arm at Highland High School and one juvenile suspect is detained. A report of a second shooter at Manzanita High School was a false alarm–or “hoax” as a CHP dispatcher referred to it on the air.
We expect many updates will follow throughout the day and while we loudly applaud the aggressive and competent response by Palmdale and Lancaster patrol personnel, we have serious questions about the Department’s response, its readiness for a true active shooter incident, glaring red flags in what we heard in this morning’s radio traffic, and about the Department’s support for the Antelope Valley area more generally.
- Listening to the radio traffic (beginning 15:30 in), it seems over five minutes went by before a response to an active shooter incident was coordinated on “the patch” (by dropping the busy tone).
- While responding deputies were self-mobilizing and requesting additional support from the LA basin, it sounded to us as if the Palmdale Station Desk (directed by the watch commander) ordered that only three units respond code-3 (with lights and siren). This is Parkland-response thinking and must be scrutinized.
- California Highway Patrol units were requested to assist LASD in “locking down” the school, yet deputies were still unable to communicate with them an hour after the incident began because their radio systems are incompatible. This is not new information; it’s a daily problem when the agencies must coordinate in response to vehicle pursuits and, as here, is done very sloppily if at all. Had this been a true active shooter incident, the consequences could have been catastrophic. LASD is responsible for the county’s radio system, so it’s on us.
- LASD could not get a helicopter to the incident because of clouds in the mountains between the basin and the AV. Again, this is a daily problem, and the lack of a dedicated and fully staffed airship in the AV poses a serious safety risk to deputies every day and, as we can see here, to the public.
- While CHP was able to get an airship to the scene, it was unable to directly communicate with deputies on the ground. The air crew’s frustration regarding this is evident in listening to the second half of the radio traffic.
- It did not seem like LASD could get a helicopter from the LA basin to the Antelope Valley due to weather in the mountains. However, this is a nearly daily occurrence and the AV’s dedicated airship is seldom actually in the air.
- LASD’s SWAT team (the Special Enforcement Bureau) was fighting traffic to get from East LA to the AV nearly an hour after the shots were fired.
- How many deputies in the field at the time had patrol rifles? We heard deputies responding with rifles from the station. Again, in a true active shooter situation, this is far too late. Deputies told Sheriff McDonnell four years ago they had too few rifles in the field, of too poor quality. We don’t think much has changed.
Why has the Department made the Lancaster and Palmdale areas so dependent upon resources coming up from LA, particularly when they are often unable to do so due to traffic and weather?
Do you work Lancaster or Palmdale? Were you a deputy or chippie taking part in the response? What do you think?