Lessons from the Seattle Pacific University Shooting

Lessons from the Seattle Pacific University Shooting
Duration: 75 Minutes
Module 1Resources
Recorded August 30, 2017
Unit 1Recording: Lessons from the Seattle Pacific University Shooting
Unit 2Webinar Notes: Lessons from the Seattle Pacific University Shooting

Gun control and its correlation to mass shootings are highly debated issues. Public venues like schools, stadiums, commercial venues, and communities are high-risk targets of such violence which seemingly continues to increase ever since the Columbine shootings of ’99.

One of the mass casualty shooting incidents that received significant media attention was that of the Seattle Pacific University shooting that happened on June 5th, 2014. An armed man killed one SPU student and injured two more. The shooter, Aaron Ybarra who was found guilty just early this year and sentenced to 112 years.

Cheryl Michaels, the Associate Director of Safety and Security for the Seattle Pacific University is our esteemed speaker for this webinar. She is the one who oversees SPU’s campus security and dispatch center and implements their crisis management plan which was central to the response efforts of the said incident. Cheryl will walk us through the training, protocols, and procedures that her team went through as preparation. She also narrates the unfortunate afternoon of the incident when it was all put to the test. Cheryl shares the lessons learned, challenges, and other details on how they dealt with the shooting and how the SPU community recovered from the incident.


The webinar touched on various topics including:

  • The logic and goal behind lockdown as a protocol of their Safety and Security Office.
  • The phases of emergency management and what the Safety and Security Office of the Seattle Pacific University did on all of these phases.
  • The multiple incidents prior the June 5th shooting that became a part of their threat and crisis management preparedness training.
  • Watershed moments that taught lessons about crisis management as early as 14 years prior the actual shooting incident.
  • The different emergency preparedness components that her team employed.
  • The various safety and security feature the SPU Safety and Security Office integrated as a part of Mitigation as:
    • ANSI Grade 1 Locksets
    • Card Access
    • Electronic Lockdown System
    • Security Film on glass doors, windows, and entryways
    • Surveillance video
    • SPU Alert that provides electronic holistic notification system via:
      • Loudspeaker
      • Electronic reader boards
      • Desktop alert screen notifications
      • Text and call
      • Email
  • A three-phase communication plan that they would use throughout a crisis situation from sending out alerts, keeping the community informed and up to date through notifications, and reassure them towards the end and after of the critical incident.
  • The preparedness methods they employed which include:
    • Both offline and online emergency resources for staff, faculty, and students
    • Campus-wide emergency drills
    • Establishing emergency support functions within the community
    • Security and dispatchers training through tabletop and practical exercises in collaboration with law enforcement
    • Emergency lockdown checklist for their security staff and dispatchers
  • A rundown of what happened on the event, the location, a simulation and timeline of what transpired illustrating the swift response, and how a vigilant student was able to prevent the shooter from harming more people.
  • The challenges that her team encountered during and after the incident.
  • The recovery efforts of the community which includes:
    • Evacuation right after the incident
    • Counselling and therapy of individuals who experienced trauma and stress after the incident
    • Renovation and remodeling of the Otto Miller Hall lobby
  • The many lessons that motivated them to review and update their training based on what they’ve learned from the experience.
  • What she identifies as the low hanging fruit that is critical to be implemented which can make the difference in incidents like this.


Additional Resources
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Giving First Responders and Schools an EDGE on Active Shooter Training
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Infographic: Four Things To Prepare For an Active Shooter
This infographic, based on the webinar, "Lessons Learned from the Aurora Movie Theater Shoot […]
6 years ago
INFOGRAPHIC: Lessons Learned from the Seattle Pacific University Shooting
This infographic, based on a webinar, reviews the basics of emergency management, the types of mi […]
6 years ago
Lessons Learned from the Seattle Pacific University Shooting: an Interview with Cheryl Michaels
Emergency preparedness doesn't happen overnight - nor does it happen in a vacuum. On June 5, 2014 […]