Memorial Day shooting prompts BYU students to consider active shooter safety plan

Police cordon off an area near Hollywood Beach Boardwalk to respond to a shooting. Nine people were injured. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

Nine people have been left injured after a beach promenade shooting in Hollywood, Florida on Monday, May 29. The police are searching for three suspects who opened fire at crowds on Hollywood Oceanfront Boardwalk at around 7 p.m.

The case is still ongoing, and updates will be posted by the Hollywood, Florida Police Department.

Amidst the unfolding tragedy, some BYU students questioned if they would be sufficiently prepared in the event of an active shooter on campus.

According to Gun Violence Archive, since the start of 2023, 17,500 people have died by gun violence in the U.S. and 14,482 have been injured. There have also been 263 mass shootings.

Kayla Brown, a dance major at BYU, previously attended college in Portland, Oregon. Her Oregon school required students to take active shooter preparedness training before registration. According to Brown, BYU has not provided sufficient information to her.

“I know from past experience it’s like run or hide, but I don’t know the specifics for BYU. I’ve never had anyone talk about it to me,” Brown said.

Bob Nelson, lieutenant in the BYU Security Department, runs a program that provides one-hour trainings for campus departments, per request. The training focuses on preparation in case of an active shooter, how to deal with the actual event and how to recover in the aftermath.

“In our presentations we talk about how it’s still rare that it could happen … but there is a potential that it could. It may never happen, but we got to be prepared just in case, and sometimes the little skills they pick up in these presentations can make a difference,” Nelson said.

BYU Emergency Management provides a guide for campus members to survive a shooting. The guide recommends running from an active shooter. However, if you cannot run away safely, lock and block doors and attempt to hide. If you are in immediate danger, it is recommended to fight the intruder with makeshift weapons.

The police also advise to spread out and not huddle together.

BYU Police provide points about survival in the case of a shooter. Shootings can occur anywhere. (Graphic courtesy of 2022 Brigham Young University
Annual Security and Fire Safety Reports)

BYU Chief of Police Matthew Andrus pointed out that, according to a guideline released by the United States Secret Service, BYU holds many of the qualities that attract shooters.

“Those come down to schools, places of business, military locations, religious institutions and eating establishments … and what was scary to me when I read that particular report is … as I looked at those areas, I realized we meet all of them,” Andrus said.

However, Andrus asked campus members to remain vigilant, rather than fearful.

“We come from a culture of preparedness within the Church; we talk about food storage. This is just one more step in my mind of something that we need to do to prepare ourselves,” Andrus said.

Nelson reflected on the possibility of mandatory active shooter training for all students, to improve student awareness.

“If that came to us to have that responsibility, then we would figure out a way to do it. We feel real strongly about this, and the more the people in this community at BYU, the more prepared they are, it actually helps the responding units,” Nelson said.

More information on active shooter preparedness is available through BYU Police.

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