Las Vegas attack has local officials thinking security for large events

Security will be tight at city's upcoming tricentennial celebrations

SAN ANTONIO – In the wake of Sunday's deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas, local law enforcement officials in San Antonio are thinking about what they can do to improve safety at events that attract large crowds.

The San Antonio Police Department said it is already discussing what can be done to increase safety for the upcoming New Year's Eve celebrations that will also usher in the yearlong celebration of San Antonio's 300th birthday.

RELATED: At least 59 killed, 527 hurt in Las Vegas Strip massacre

Police Chief William McManus said he was surprised by the attack, which has become the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

"I'm stunned. I'm lost for words on that one," McManus said. "When you think it can't get any worse, it gets worse."

McManus said the fact the shooter had no criminal record and so far does not appear to have hinted at what he would do, highlights a blind spot for U.S. law enforcement.

READ MORE: Gunman Stephen Paddock was an accountant who played $100-a-hand poker

"This is not preventable unless we have intelligence that would lead us to believe something like this could happen. These random type of events are off the radar unless we have some intelligence on them," McManus said. "The thing that helps us in these types of incidents is intelligence, so that we're forewarned. We can investigate, we can take whatever action we need to take but without any intelligence in these types of events, we wind up responding."

McManus said short of turning ourselves into a security state, there's not much more that can be done beyond the added security screenings already in place at venues that host large events.

Later this year, the city will host a huge New Year's Eve party spread out all over town. 

McManus said security will be tight.

"Any event that we have we are very, very aware and we are vigilant about the possibility of these types of events happening," McManus said. "We will certainly be working internally and with our federal and our local partners to make sure that event is as safe as it can possibly be."

While law enforcement agencies do plan for the possibility of a sniper attacking a high profile person or VIP, it's not something that has typically been high on the priority list when those same agencies plan security for events that attract large crowds.

Deputy Chief Harry Jimenez, with the Bexar County Sheriff's Office, said Sunday's attack will change protocols.

"The sniper on the 32nd floor of a hotel was not necessarily one, two or three on the list," Jimenez said.

Jimenez is a certified trainer for active shooting events, teaching police, fire, EMS and dispatchers how to respond.

He's also certified to train companies and their employees how to respond.

He said anyone attending events with large crowds should be vigilant and have a plan should the unthinkable happen.

"Just know the surroundings, evacuation routes, where the law enforcement is, where the exits are, and just paying attention," Jimenez said.

The Tricentennial Commission, also responding to the tragedy Monday, saying in a statement:

The safety of the guests and participants of each tricentennial event is a priority. We are working closely with law enforcement officials to ensure safety plans are in place.

McManus said he doesn't plan on increasing security at local hotels and doesn't believe gun control could have stopped the shooter from carrying out his deadly attack.


About the Author:

Tim Gerber is an investigative reporter and anchor on the KSAT Defenders team.