Security: ‘It’s Happened. No More Theoretical’

Every event organizer’s worst nightmare transpired late Oct. 1 during the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas when an apparent lone gunman opened fire from a hotel room on an unsuspecting mass of country music fans, killing at least 58 people and wounding hundreds. 

Las Vegas Following Shooting
Yasmina Chavez/Las Vegas Sun via AP
– Las Vegas Following Shooting
Metro Police conduct a search on people bringing supplies to the people taking refuge inside the Thomas & Mack following a mass shooting at the Route 91 music festival along the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas.

Chris Robinette, president of security and counter-terrorism specialists Prevent Advisors (which is owned by the Oak View Group, Pollstar‘s parent company) told Pollstar that it’s past time to merely talk about the worst-case scenario.

“What can happen clearly has happened now,” Robinette told Pollstar. “It’s no longer part of the theoretical discussion. Now, it’s what do we do about it. It’s going to have to be something that is a much broader discussion.”

The gunman, who reportedly committed suicide when police entered his hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, had 10 firearms in his room.  The shooter was identified as Stephen Paddock, 64. He was said to be a local resident and no motive had been determined at press time.

During a media briefing, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo was asked how such a thing could happen in a public setting with cameras everywhere.

“This is an individual described as a lone wolf. I don’t know how it could have been prevented,” Lombardo said, adding that it wasn’t evident that the suspect had weapons in his room and that nothing nefarious was reported from hotel staff who had entered and left the suspect’s room.

Robinette said the Las Vegas situation would be “extremely, extremely difficult to detect and prevent,” and extra chaotic being an at-distance shooter during an outdoor event rather than a close encounter indoors. Local law enforcement acted quickly to prevent further casualties, but Robinette says things still can be done.

“There is an approach to it, but [the Las Vegas shooting] is certainly not one that is typically seen and certainly has a uniqueness to it,” he added.

“The only way to prevent and deter something like this is really, really solid cooperation and staff training for all parties involved, whether they be corporate security in the buildings next to them, or hotel security or local law enforcement or the security in the building or venue,” Robinette said, adding that a location’s “whole ecosystem” needs to be looked at.

“As far as the festival goes, the things that they seemingly did well was they had a plan for crowd control and were able to move people out and have an evacuation. That is critical in these events to prevent even further damage and destruction.”

For the rest of the industry, it’s never too late to boost current security practices.

“The low-hanging fruit for concert promoters is having a very very, well-trained staff and knowledgeable concert promoters on policies and procedures on what to do if there is an event and how to deter them moving forward,” Robinette said, adding that “90 percent of the game” is to make your event or venue an unattractive target.