Today, Oct. 2, the world woke up to the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. As I write this, 58 people have died and the injuries total more than 500. I feel certain the numbers will change.
Social media is flooded with images of the mass panic and chaos that ensued as the shooter indiscriminately opened fire on the helpless crowd.
The continuous bursts of automatic weapons fire echoing in the background are heart-wrenching.
Police, fire and medical personnel responded in mass to an unprecedented scene. No amount of training ever prepares you for the reality of real-life carnage and chaos, especially when the numbers of casualties are overwhelming.
From what I have seen, hundreds of first responders courageously put themselves in harm’s way to deal with the crisis. In heroic fashion, they confronted the gunman and blew down the door to his room only to find he had taken his own life.
As a country, our angst has once again increased.
We want answers. We want to know why. We want to know how this could have been stopped. We want answers to questions that are sometimes unanswerable.
Law enforcement agencies will dissect the incident. They will look for lessons learned, ways to improve and harden targets and yes, they will look at ways to prevent such a shooting from happening in the future.
It seems that every time we have a mass-casualty shooting, a new normal falls upon us.
After Sandy Hook, where 20 children and six adults were killed, schools across the country became more like prisons than schoolyards overnight.
After Virginia Tech, where 27 students and five teachers were killed, active-shooter training became part of freshman orientation across the country.
What will we learn from what will probably be called the Las Vegas shooting? Only time will tell.
Tragically, history is not on our side.
There always will be deranged, evil people with access to firearms. There is little doubt that many of these mass shooters have modeled their actions on previous incidents. In other words, it will happen again.
When and where we will never know. Law enforcement and first responders across the country are prepared to respond to the worst-case scenarios.
But I don’t think anyone can ever be fully prepared for the pure evil that people are capable of.
Joe is a retired Anaheim Police Department captain. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.