On a near daily basis, it seems, Americans are hearing news about the latest mass shooting. But when was the last time we heard about an incident that was prevented—and how?

In late July, a potentially catastrophic mass shooting was averted at the Margolin Hebrew Academy in Memphis, Tennessee thanks to a combination of the vigilance of local authorities and the school’s advanced security measures. Even with what little we know so far, this incident offers a powerful case study for organizations seeking to enhance their security and preparedness planning.

The Benefits of Early Recognition

As is often the case, the would-be perpetrator showed his hand prior to the incident. In a series of online posts, he expressed grievances related to the academy, where he attended previously. His posts also revealed deep-seated emotional scars stemming from the tragic death of his father, who was fatally shot by Memphis police two decades ago. And he disclosed his battles with emotional and mental health issues including complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), dysgraphia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

In total, these communications highlight a crucial point we’ve mentioned time and again: the vast majority of mass shooters aren’t created overnight – they exhibit behavioral anomalies and warning signs that portend violent acts. Understanding these indicators and promptly reporting them to authorities can be pivotal in preventing a tragedy, as it was here in Memphis.

A Security Showcase

In addition, the school’s security measures also played a role in thwarting the assailants intentions. Security cameras, strategically placed on the academy grounds, captured him brandishing a handgun, and his attempt to gain access to the school was foiled by locked security doors.

As a result, he was unable to confront staff and workers on site, they were provided with additional time to alert law enforcement, he was quickly neutralized by authorities, and no one was injured in the incident.

Organizations of all types can draw essential lessons from Margolin Hebrew Academy’s planning, including implementing the following preventive measures:

  1. Update and Regularly Review Emergency Action Plans (EAP): Maintaining an up-to-date EAP as well as training personnel on the importance of recognizing and responding to warning signs, is vital. Regular training can ensure that staff can identify and report these signs promptly.
  1. Invest in Physical Security: Robust access controls and security cameras can be invaluable assets in deterring an assailant,  documenting security breaches for investigative purposes, and preventing unauthorized entry by potential threats.
  1. Collaborate with Law Enforcement: Establishing a cooperative relationship with local authorities is key. This collaboration can further enhance security and streamline response efforts during real-world incidents.

One Memphis school is doing things right—and saving lives. Are you ready to prevent a potential tragedy if a threat comes knocking? If not, TPOP can help create a plan for your organization.

With expertise including Run-Hide-Fight, active shooter preparedness and response, situational awareness, de-escalation techniques, and more, The Power of Preparedness provides critical guidance that can save lives. Contact us to learn more.