Graphic by Ashley LaFayette.
In just the last few weeks, between Chicago and Florida, recent gun violence has taken the lives of too many people, effectively changing the future for their loved ones, and possibly even the country as a whole.
On Feb. 13, a 31-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department was shot and killed. Commander Paul Bauer, 53, of the 18th District, was killed at the James R. Thompson Center while assisting in the chase of a suspect, Shomari Legghette, who had escaped another officer.
Legghette was originally stopped by an officer who was told he was in the same area where a shooting occurred that Saturday.
Bauer was leaving a training seminar at the Thompson Center when he spotted the suspect and pursued him on foot. Moments later, Bauer was gunned down, being shot multiple times in a stairwell.
The suspect was caught minutes later and had apparently been wearing a bulletproof vest. Police claim he had a record of arrests and convictions, which involve armed robbery, guns and drug charges.
Bauer was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. His body was then led in a procession from the hospital to the medical examiner’s office after 5 p.m. that Tuesday.
Cmdr. Bauer was put to rest on Saturday, Feb. 17, in Alsip, Ill. He left behind his wife, Erin, and 13-year-old daughter, Grace. Thousands of people attended his funeral, including all 287 officials assigned to the 18th District, along with law enforcement agencies from across the nation.
The commander’s wife released an emotional letter on the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation’s website one week later.
“I saw each and every one of you from the darkened window of my car,” Bauer wrote.
“The good people far outnumbered the bad. One man almost stole my faith in humanity, but the city of Chicago and the rest of the nation restored it and I want to thank you for that.”
Just one day later in Parkland, Fla., a gunman entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle, killing 17 people and injuring at least 14 others, becoming the largest school shooting to happen since Sandy Hook in 2012.
Nikolas Cruz, 19, was identified as the gunman and taken into custody shortly after the shooting took place. Cruz had recently been expelled from the high school for disciplinary reasons and had been battling depression. He was living with a family where both parents, James and Kimberly Snead, had claimed to have been aware of his mental state but were shocked to hear about the shooting.
“His depression stemmed from losing his mother and not all the things people said about being bullied in school,” said Kimberly Snead in an interview with CNN.
Survivors of the shooting are taking this incident to persuade a change in gun laws. Students are planning a march for gun control in Washington, D.C. on March 24 alongside much support, including hefty donations of $500,000 to fund the march from George Clooney, Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey.
Until there is a change in gun control, schools will continue to educate their students, faculty and staff on how to respond to an active shooter situation. Lewis offers active shooter survival training by using the ALICE model.
“The battle against violence on campus is really won or lost at the prevention stage,” said Lewis Deputy Chief of Police Mike Zegadlo. “Early detection and intervention for community members who may be on a pathway to violence is our best hope of preventing this type of tragedy. ALICE trains community members on key tactics that will improve their chances to survive in an active shooter / active killer event. We focus on making the key decisions to run, hide or fight during an incident.”
The ALICE training includes a role-play session that allows students to practice the ‘run, hide or fight’ skills. The training requires participants to move through a scenario that involves an acted-out scene of an active shooter.
“Ultimately our goal is that no one will ever have to use the skills taught in ALICE, because we have a community that supports and looks out for each other,” said Zegadlo. “Every member of our community plays a role in keeping the campus safe by being alert to one’s surroundings, reporting suspicious activity and supporting those who need help.”
Suspicious activity can include any individuals who have changes in appearance, behavior or social media posts, and any who have recently acquired guns and amunition.
The university also offers The Assessment and Care Team, which is a group of professionals in mental health, public safety and student development. This team specializes in behavioral threat assessment, which helps community members with any resources before there is a threat to anyone’s safety.