Security Posted at Area Schools

In response to the half-dozen killings by an unknown sniper in the last week, including a middle school student shot in front of his school yesterday, Charlottesville is now posting a police officer in front of each school at the beginning and end of each day, Orange County schools, the Daily Progress reports,, will have law enforcement personnel on school grounds at all times. Spotsylvania County, just north of Orange, is where a woman was shot by the sniper on Friday afternoon. Some schools in northern Virginia have cancelled all outdoor activities and are on “lockdown.”

20 thoughts on “Security Posted at Area Schools”

  1. It may be a bit much, as the killer is one man. And there’s not much they can do, as this guy is doing it from quite a distance. One cop parked in the CHS parking lot is not going to do anything, so they’re wasting their time.

  2. Sadly, this is but window dressing. I’m not sure how intimidated a sniper with a long-range rifle and nearly flawless aim is going to be by a cop stationed in front of a school.

    Of course, what else is law enforcement to do? The current sniper matter has to be their nightmare scenario, and heaven forbid if there are copycats out there.

  3. About the only thing the officer could do is act as bait. I suppose he could wear a sandwich sign with a target on it. :)


  4. If I understand correctly, the Bowie student was shot, but not killed. Unless I missed something recently in the news, I am pretty sure he is still alive (and improving).

    It still sucks to be shot, but not as bad (hopefully) as being dead.

  5. Yes, the 13 year old, when I last heard, was in critical but stable condition. However, the shooter has been linked to the other shootings in the DC area. This has resulted in 6 deaths.

    But I thought last night when watching Fox 9, waiting for Simpsons which was pre-empted for the latest in this story, that increased police coverage is a little silly for a sniper. The ATF was quoted as saying that the bullets recovered from 3 of the victims and a fragment from yesterdays victim, all matched a high power rifle, accuarate up to 600 ft. Pretty scary.

    I haven’t seen Michael’s Crafts increase security and they have had more reason- 1 victim in MD and 1 in Fredericksburg. This isn’t to say we don’t need to protect our children. Any amateur detectives want to tell us their thoughts on the suspect? I can’t make a connection here. Seems way to random.

  6. This is a job for the Marines, not the police.

    Perhaps people will feel a bit safer about taking their children to school now, and that is a plus. A determined killer could take you out in the middle of the police station. We’re just increasing the chances of catching the culprit, which is also a good thing.

  7. I work for a city school and we’ve always had our Resource Officer out where the buses are being unloaded in the morning.

    I think that the elementary schools may share a resource officer, and so posting officers there may consitute a change, but I don’t think this is a necessarily new step for all of the schools.

  8. You’re quite right — I have absolutely no idea of why I wrote that the boy was killed. I’ve changed that to read "shot" instead of "killed." Thank you for the correction.

  9. I do not agree with the early news reports calling him a good shot. Speculation of course, but I think he is a sport hunter, presumably with experience shooting deer, who now has decided to shoot humans for fun instead.

    I say this because 1) he is not using a silencer. And 2) he is shooting for the body, not the head. And 3) he shoots people in the back.

    An experienced urban sniper disguises his position with a silencer. They not all that hard to make in a machine shop. And snipers generally shoot for the head, since that is a guaranteed kill. A deer hunter in contrast learns to shoot for the heart.

    This guy is shooting people from behind, and only shooting once, because he is not sure of his aim. If he misses, or only wounds, he does not want a survivor to point to where the puff of smoke came from. Likewise shooting twice would pinpoint his location.

    He will be caught because he is stupid. He kills in and around his own neighborhood. Only so many people have bought Armalite rifle ammunition, in that Montgomery County neighborhood. He is on some gun shop’s security camera. When he gets out of his van to shoot people he has to disguise the rifle (there isnít time to break it down afterwards). So eventually somebody will spot a man carrying a long box who, instead of delivering it, brings it back to his van. Or a man wearing a long raincoat in perfectly dry weather.

    The thing to do is not let him panic people.

  10. Trained snipers do not use silencers. You simply can’t silence an assault rifle. The bullet is traveling in excess of 3000fps. This means that the bullet itself prodces a shock wave and a sonic boom. Also, by the time the bullet reaches the victim, the sound is still a second or two away, thats enough time to duck behind cover. Sure a silencer will help to reduce the noise coming from the snipers actual position, but not by much, as the bullet leaves the silencer itself, it produces almost as much noise. Those guys in movies shooting pistols with silencers are shooting subsonic ammunition, a completely different beast.

    Shell casings were found at the scene. A trained sniper uses a bolt action rifle. The sound a semi-automatic rifle makes is much louder, as gasses escape as the bolt recycles. In addition to the sound the bolt makes when it strikes the back of the reciever. With such a high velocity round this may seem negligable, but bolt action rifles are also more accurate than semi-automatic. And since a sniper has no need to fire a second round for fear of giving away his position, there is no reason not to use a bolt action.

    Some scenes had no shell casing, and some did. This indicates to me that the attacker was in a vehicle for a few of the attacks, and not for others. Perhaps he knows his vehicle is hot, and avoids using it now.

    Shooting in the back means nothing, nobody who has a hole in their chest is going to look for their attacker. It tends to bring your attention inward. Also, not all of the victims were shot in the back. It may just be coincidence. The sniper is more concerned about being spotted by random passers by than by the actual victim. After all, what is the victim going to do about it? Call in a napalm strike before collapsing? Hardly.

    Snipers are afraid of attacking groups, and thats how the military flushes them out, groups of 10 or more people wandering around trying to find his position. A confident sniper will sometimes attack a group if he feels that they are A) unable to shoot back and B) unable to flee and give his position away to others who can shoot back.

    As for aim, perhaps its just a matter of personal preference. If you hit someone in the head, they die from the massive fracture of the skull, not because of some lost brain tissue. Its just as possible to survive a shot to the head as it is a shot to the heart. Both unlikely, but possible. The advantage of shooting for the head, is that its larger than the heart. Thats pretty much it.

    He will be caught. I’m shocked he hasnt been caught already. You can be damn sure that everyone who bought a .223 rifle or amunition during the last 10 years is on a list on some detective’s desk. Its just a matter of time sadly… hopefully this will end in the next day or two. If it doesn’t, its not for lack of manpower certainly!

  11. “You can be damn sure that everyone who bought a .223 rifle or amunition during the last 10 years is on a list on some detective’s desk. Its just a matter of time sadly… hopefully this will end in the next day or two. If it doesn’t, its not for lack of manpower certainly!”

    How common is .223 ammo? I don’t know much about hunting rifles, but the gun shows I’ve been to seem to be teeming with .223/5.56 caliber bullets for sale, and I know that gun show vendors don’t keep lists of who buys ammunition (do regular gun shops keep lists? I don’t know).

    Do they know from the shell casings whether it’s a bolt-action verus a semi-auto? An AR-15 would spit out a shell casing just as much as a bolt-action Remington, correct?

    At any rate, this guys appears to have nerves of steel. One of the killings took place right across the road from a police station, so I get the feeling that he’s almost showing off. Posting a single policeman outside a school isn’t going to do much to combat that.

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  13. It is very common, The russian AK-47, chinese SKS, american M16, as well as many other american made rifles take this ammunition. You can go to wal-mart and buy a Ruger mini 14 for about $500. Almost all pre-ban 30 round clips are for .223 ammo. Did you see that gun osama carries? You guessed it…. .223 ammo.

    You are correct, they do not take your name to buy ammo. However they’re dealing with a fixed number of gun shops, and they can look at credit card records, bank transactions, etc. As well as "do you remember who bought that ammo?"

    The bolt action rifle doesn’t spit the shell out unless you open the bolt. Meaning you can run off and hide and take the shell with you. A semi-automatic rifle needs a little metal "thingie" to catch the shells to prevent them from going flying off to the shooters right side about 10-20 feet. Your typical detective finds a shooting scene with no shell, and he assumes it was a drive-by, and the casing is in the perp’s car. It could just as easily have been a bolt action, or someone with a brass catcher.

    I agree, this guy is not afraid of a cop with a .45. A .223 fired from a long gun will go through a police issue vest like…. well… a bullet through butter.

  14. why is this relevant in charlottesville? do they think that putting a cop outside of every school in town is going to prevent this wacko from taking a road trip down 29? seems like a waste of resources to me, just to make people feel more secure from an almost non-existant threat.

  15. This is true, but people are scared. And the police are there to make us feel warm and fuzzy. Never underestimate the power of warm and fuzzies.

  16. I would imagine that before last night, folks in Manassas would have been asking if similar steps were relevant there.

  17. Given limited manpower, you can’t just be putting people places willy-nilly.

    Does the public comfort effect and the slight chance of a break from a watch-man on the corner outweigh the absence of one more man doing field searches, interviews, etc., etc.?

    Obviously, the question is a little different here – we probably won’t be sending someone to NOVA today. But, still, there are other problems in cville, which could really use a positive police presence, which would have to be further forestalled than they already are in order to have an officer essentially load around and cheer up the wary.

    Maybe it’s worth it, but you’ve got to balance it out.

  18. that was my point…there’s no indication that this thing is going to move any farther south. of course, i guess you can’t predict the actions of a madman. i must admit, i’ve been keeping an eye out when i walk long distances lately.

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