For the past two weeks I’ve been sharing the presentation that Max Schachter made to an audience consisting of school employees, law enforcement officials and concerned citizens on June 5. In his presentation, Schachter described the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in which his son and sixteen other people died. The first article covered the story behind the killer and the actual tragedy. The 2nd article discussed the crusade that Schachter and other parents have launched since the tragedy. Here, I’ll discuss the suggestions that Schachter and government, as well as non-profit agencies, have come up with since the shooting in 2018 and some of the policies that have been initiated in Hernando County.
As Schachter said, “It’s so important that we remember what’s happened and what could happen so that we can do everything in our power to prevent it from happening here.”
Many communities are in denial that this sort of thing could happen to them. However, it can happen in any community, large or small, in any socio-economic strata or ethnic group, at any school level from preschool to college, public or private. Just to give some examples, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas tragedy took place at a large public high school in an affluent community. The shooting at Virginia Tech in which thirty-three people were killed was a university. The tragedy at Covenant Christian School in Nashville took place at a private school. Robb Elementary School, where twenty-two people were killed, is 90% Hispanic and almost 87% of the students are on free or reduced lunches.
One way to prevent these tragedies is to look for “red flags.” Law enforcement officials found that mass shooters had several characteristics in common. They all suffered from social stressors such as bullying, romantic break ups or grievances with a classmate or teacher.
The Secret Service studied sixty-seven averted attacks and found that targeted violence is preventable with the right awareness and protocol. These cases confirm that bystanders coming forward to report concerning behavior can save lives.
The thing about a tragedy like the one that occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas is that it’s not just the families of the victims who suffer. Two children committed suicide as a result of the mass shooting. People who witness or experience an event like this can experience Post Traumatic Stress.
“The trauma and ripple effects throughout the community are massive,” Schachter stated.
During the seminar, Schachter shared his phone number and email address and invited people to reach out to him with any concerns. The phone number is 954-646-6626 and his email address is [email protected].
At the end of the presentation, Jill Renihan, Director of Safe Schools in Hernando County, thanked Schachter for taking the time to share his experiences and expertise.
Ms. Renihan, who organized the summit, coordinates training initiatives and serves as the liaison to the Sheriff’s Office. She also oversees threat assessment and the physical security of the county’s school campuses.
Some of the specific procedures that the school system has in place include an anonymous reporting app which allows anyone with knowledge of a potentially dangerous situation to report it. They also partner with a company called ZeroEyes that uses AI to detect firearms and provides lethal weapon alerts within 3-5 seconds of the detection. This cuts response time to practically zero.
Also an excellent working relationship between the School Resource Officers, guardians and the school administration enhances the security on each of the district’s campuses. Unlike the chaos and lack of communication and apparent concern that occurred at Alex’s school in the aftermath of the shooting, Hernando uses the “I Love You Guys Standard Reunification Method.”
As Ms Renihan stated, “The recovery and healing would start immediately. We will work on strengthening our preparation for Reunification through tabletop, small-scale and full-scale exercises conducted throughout the year.”
“His [Mr. Schachter’s] message renews our commitment to provide for the highest level of protection for all students, staff and visitors to our campuses,” she concluded.
You can reach Ms. Renihan by calling 352-797-7233 or by email: [email protected]