Foreword: I have long held the well-planned diabolical 4/20/99 hit at Columbine High School which ushered in the continuing disaster we call the modern American school shooter/bomber era through the horrific bloodshed that occurred within a six day period last week at a bustling commercial area in Ohio and WalMart stores in Texas and Mississippi constitute acts of domestic terrorism.
Many purport to be experts offering solutions to mitigate the risk these ongoing catastrophes have perpetrated on the citizens of and visitors to our country.
Few in my opinion offer the unique and much-needed perspective that retired United States Navy SEAL Ty Smith, Founder and CEO of Vigilance Risk Solutions, and his team of security professionals can.
(Ty Smith protecting Americans from terrorists overseas.)
Ty is positioned to integrate strategic skills, knowledge and experience gleaned during his distinguished career in combatting foreign-born terrorists, including as a member of the elite SEAL Teams One and Eight, to addressing the threat posed by the homegrown variety that walk amongst us on American soil.
(Terrorists both: Mohammad Atta highjacked and crashed a plane into NYC in 2001; Columbine killer Eric Harris wrote about highjacking a plane and crashing it into NYC in 1998.)
If the goal is to take back our schools, workplaces, businesses, places of worship, concert venues, and other locations that remain soft targets to kamikaze attacks, we need the superior level of expertise used by our special forces overseas applied right here at home.
The following is an exclusive article written by Ty for the WVPI on topics including how to recognize and act on the pre-attack "leakage of violent intent" these killers all transmit including in the "battle space" we call social media.
-Kathleen M. Bonczyk, Esq.
WVPI Founder and Executive Director
(c) Ty Smith
We are halfway through 2019 and already across the U.S. there have been more than 250 mass shootings that have killed over 200 American citizens; men, women and children that deserved the protection of the most talented security and public safety professionals that our country has to offer.
But here’s the thing, our law enforcement officers simply can’t be everywhere at once; there just isn’t enough of them.
But, with the help of every-day-citizens that have been trained to recognize some of the signs that a person might be on a “pathway to violence,” law enforcement officers could be much more effective at helping to solve the problem of mass shootings and school violence in America.
In the wake of the more than 200 mass shootings that we have experienced thus far in 2019, we often hear the saying, “see something, say something.”
But, what percentage of Americans actually know what to look for?
My name is Ty Smith, Founder and CEO of Vigilance Risk Solutions (VRS). VRS is a security and risk company that specializes in Conflict and Violence Prevention. We help our clients to mitigate the risk of workplace conflict and violence by way of: Risk Assessment; Planning; In-person and Web-based Training; Social Media Threat Monitoring; Threat and Incident Management and Analytics and Personnel Background Checks.
(Pre-attack photo posted on social media by Pennsylvania's Weis Market terrorist, a "Columbinite" who idolized Harris and who shot three co-workers dead, then committed suicide in 2017.)
Prior to founding VRS, I spent most of my adult life as a United States Navy SEAL. Before retiring from the SEAL Teams, I deployed to the Middle East six times on behalf of the citizens of this great nation.
During my career, I was able to acquire and hone a unique toolbox of skillsets that have enabled me to have an intimate understanding of people, and their behavior; specifically, as it pertains to violence.
For example, it’s actually rare that a human being just “snaps” one day. Even the most despicable of people aren’t programmed that way. There is usually some type and amount of premeditation that takes place first. Consider this, of several of the most recent mass shootings to take place in the U.S., there have been multiple reports of the shooters publicly communicating his/her intentions prior to the actual event; either verbally, or via social media. There is always some form of “leakage” whether it be overt, or subliminal.
(You Tube Comment attributed to the man who confessed to killing 17 people and wounding 17 others at Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School a few months before his 2/14/18 attack.)
These people are planning to hurt us, and instill terror in our everyday lives.
Well I have news for them. We are not afraid.
We have never been afraid, and we will win!
But, in order for us to do so, we must learn to work as a team and understand that “see something, say something” isn’t simply a cool slogan.
It actually means that we have to pay attention; we have to practice some amount of situational awareness at all times in order to notice what is often times happening right in front of our faces.
So, with that being said, here are some things to be on the lookout for within your everyday environment.
Threat Assessment: Leakage of Violent Intent
Forms of Leakage and Seeing Something
1. Facial Characteristics:
Sweating in a cool environment: This characteristic could be the result of a person being extremely nervous, or under the influence of psychotropic drugs.
Flushed: This characteristic could be the result of a person being extremely nervous, or under the influence of psychotropic drugs.
Clenched jaw: Often, this characteristic is an indication of anger.
2. Body Language:
Constant adjustments of clothing: This characteristic could mean that a person is concealing a weapon/s, protective armor, or anything of considerable weight underneath their clothing. For example, if a person were carrying a 9mm pistol in their pocket, they may not be used to carrying that heavy of an item in their pockets; therefore, they may have to constantly adjust their pants.
Chicken winging: Chicken winging is a law enforcement term that refers to when a person that is not used to carrying a concealed firearm is subconsciously unaware of the fact that they are repeatedly using the inside of their elbow to feel for the weapon that they are illegally carrying on their waste line.
Hands in pockets: Beware the person that refuses to remove his/her hands from their pockets. One would have to ask themselves the questions, “What is that person hiding? Are they wearing gloves; if so, why are they wearing gloves? Are we indoors; if so, it makes no sense for them to be wearing gloves in this present setting, etc.…
(Confessed Santa Fe High School shooter/bomber reportedly routinely wore a long black coat to school in hot and humid southeast Texas prior to the 5/18/18 attack which left 10 dead and 13 wounded).
Tactical: Cargo pants and cargo shirts are very common, as they provide plenty of pockets for the attackers to use for carrying ammunition and other weapons.
All black dress: All black clothing is also associated with tactical dress; as well, black clothing is also a potential sign for the desire to camouflage (night time), as well as a sign of depression and/or aggression.
Gloves: Gloves can be a very simple indicator of possible violence or theft. If a person is wearing gloves while indoors, or when the weather is very warm, and if that person is not conducting manual labor that required hand protection, that person should appear somewhat different from his/her surroundings.
Long coats and/or heavy clothing in warm weather: For example, if it were approximately 90-degrees outside, would it make sense for a person to walk around wearing a black long coat? More than likely it does not make sense at all. This does not mean that person is up to no good. It does mean that you should simply be aware, and take mental note of this obvious contradiction to the norm.
("Trench coat mafia" member Harris's trademark long black coat, gloves and hat discarded outside Columbine High School 4/20/99, an unusually warm day in Colorado.)
In conclusion, I will leave you with this:
It is rare that a would-be shooter will display only one of these “indicators” or forms of “leakage."
Typically, a person will be displaying several of these indicators in they are mentally on the path to violence.
(The employee who killed 12 innocents pictured above was reportedly facing suspension for a violent altercation shortly before the June 2019 massacre at the Virginia Beach Municipal Building.)
(The accused killer of two supervisors at a WalMart store on July 30, 2019 in Southaven, Mississippi returned with a gun after he had been suspended pending investigation of an incident where he showed a knife to a co-worker.)
Doing Something After Seeing Something.
And now that you know some of the signs to look out for, remember, “see something, say something” means exactly that, and that means you!
Every one of us has a duty to be the protectors of ourselves.
The days of outsourcing our own personal safety and security to others has passed; it’s up to me to protect myself.
I have to make the decision to seek training regarding run-hide-fight. I have to make the decision not to be complacent, and to always be aware of my immediate surroundings.
Lastly, I have to be willing to pick up the phone and call the authorities when I do see something that causes me to have concern for my safety and the safety of others. And if need be, I have to be willing to run, hide, and fight, and not necessarily in that order…
Learn more of Ty's thoughts and tips on threat assessment/risk mitigation on the "Break it Down" podcast, recorded shortly after the hit at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School here:
To Get in Touch with Ty:
Visit the VRS website at https://vigilancerisk.com or call 888-613-1994 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
More About Ty:
Ty Graduated from BUD/s training in the Spring of 2003, and was then assigned to SEAL Team 8 in Little Creek, VA. After a successful tour of duty on the East Coast, Ty transferred to the West Coast and served as a Naval Special Warfare training instructor for three years prior to being assigned to SEAL Team One in Coronado, CA.
After the successful completion of six deployments to the Middle East as a SEAL operator, Ty completed a Bachelors Degree in Organizational Management from Ashford University, and a Masters Degree in Business from the University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business. Ty retired from Naval service May 20th, 2016, after 20-years of faithful and honorable service to God and country. Immediately after his retirement, he launched Vigilance Risk Solutions, a San Diego based security consulting and risk mitigation company with focus on workplace violence prevention.