THE EMERGENCE OF THE SWAT .50 CALIBER RIFLE
By Mark Lang
Tactical Edge/ Spring 2015
In March 2008, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued an assessment asserting that stadiums and arenas are potential targets during events. Further, it was stated, “it’s just a matter of time before terrorists target a major sports event.” Open- air venues where fans gather to watch sporting events or concerts are extremely vulnerable to attack.
In January 2009, DHS issued an assessment report titled “Threats to College Sports and Entertainment Venues and Surrounding Areas.” This report expounded on public transportation and infrastructure as a target of attack if the venue is perceived as being secured.
On Oct. 1, 2005, Joel Hinrichs detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) on a bench 200 yards away from the University of Oklahoma football stadium, where nearly 85,000 people were in attendance. The FBI concluded that it was an accidental suicide, but the agency could not prove or disprove that Hinrichs intended to enter the stadium and detonate his IED.
In Tampa, Florida, in 2008, a male named Kurt Havelock mailed a manifesto to local media outlets stating he would “shed the blood of the innocent” and threatened to shoot people at the upcoming Super Bowl game. Armed with an AR15 rifle and 200 rounds of ammunition, he changed his mind at the stadium and turned himself in to the police. (His conviction on mailing threats was later overturned on appeal.) These and other incidents underscore the very real threat to those who attend sporting or non-sporting events in large venues. Many in law enforcement may be unaware of just how attractive a target and how lax the security is.
Where do we start the process of hardening our public venues? Our friends and family attend a variety of events at large venues, and the expectation is one of security and safety. However, as we look at what assets are present at the venue, are they enough to combat terrorism and prevent it from happening? This article examines the current response and potential threats, and focuses on what police snipers and SWAT can add to prevent tragedy at a sporting event.
Soft Target or Hard Target
Threat Environment at Public Venues
The Role of the Police Sniper
The Role of SWAT
Overt or Covert Deployment