Best Practices – Reflecting On The Sal Castro Middle School Shooting

On Feb. 1, 2018, Los Angeles Unified School District had yet another active shooter incident to report to the public. A 12-year-old girl discharged a firearm at Sal Castro Middle School in Westlake in a classroom shortly after school began. The police investigation is still underway; a semiautomatic weapon has been recovered and students have reported they think the incident was “unintentional” and that it may have discharged from inside a backpack. Four students have been reported as injured and no deaths have been reported.

AEGIS Security & Investigations has posted numerous blogs about active shooters as incidents continue to increase. With each shooting, we look at what we do in our own active shooter training as well as what we think could prevent a future shooting in a similar setting. As an experienced security team that works closely with schools in the Los Angeles area to enhance their security tactics, especially those pertaining to active shooters, we preach a single tenant: local schools need enhanced active shooter training TODAY.

AEGIS Security & Investigations offers active shooter training programs specifically designed for schools, and since nearly 90 percent of California schools are ill-equipped and under-prepared for active shooter incidents, we are vamping up our mission to educate students, teachers and administrators on the topic. The California State Auditor released a report late last year revealing that state schools cannot handle active shooter situations in their current operations. Lack of funding combined with limited active shooter education has left K-12 public schools in California ill-prepared to handle such a situation. To read the full report: CLICK HERE.

Additionally, the Everbridge Emergency Management and Safety (EMS) Solutions Active Shooter Preparedness Research Report found that while companies (whether in education or not) view active shooter situations to be a major concern, they are still not tackling the problem. Organizations need to focus on preparing and educating their staff to be able to manage such a situation.

When it comes to preparing your school for incidents like that at Sal Castro Middle, there are several steps. The first step is conducting a professional security audit that includes a full policy review. including emergency management, active shooter response, local law enforcement and medical response capabilities, training, policies and procedures, communication systems, adherence to safe schools regulations, anti-bullying initiatives, the school wide positive behavior support plan, memorandums of understanding, and mutual aid agreements.

The second step is conducting a full vulnerability assessment of the physical property to include access control, screening, lighting, camera systems, the use of contractors, visibility, environmental factors, and targeting.

The third step is conducting an analysis of each observation, assessing its individual characteristics and then classifying it for further action. Once the analysis is complete, countermeasures should be defined for each shortfall.

The fourth step would be penetration testing. This would be a real test of security arranged by the security consultant and administrators. This test is not designed to scare students or faculty but rather to determine vulnerabilities and readiness.

The final step in the initial process is education of school faculty and staff related to understanding the warning signs of various kinds of bullying as well as psychological disorders. Per the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education when violence is witnessed, a correlation with decreased school attendance and academic performance is found across the board. Students who suffer from bullying and other forms of school-based violence tend to perform poorly, earning average grades of D and F. The only way we can begin to resolve school violence in the long term is with better recognition and treatment.

The civilian active shooter training provided by AEGIS is intended to build on “run, hide, fight,” the long-standing method of saving yourself in these events. Workshops run from an hour to several hours dependent on the needs of the organization and individuals. Our most highly sought after workplace violence training program is our one-hour plus add-on Run, Hide, Fight Live Fire Demo; participants begin with a lecture and basic training on how to handle the situation and are then exposed to sample scenarios in which they practice those same skills. The effectiveness of this scenario can be viewed when on CBS here.

Additionally, AEGIS researches the best preventative measures to ensure campuses are up-to-date on best practices in physical security. We have found that active shooter scenarios, whether from within the campus or outside of the campus, can be delayed in their “spread” from building to building or class to class with a well-practiced implementation of a campus lock down.

Large school campuses are faced with a unique threat when encountering active shooters: locking down every point of entry quickly. How do you ensure you can move your security force around 10-plus buildings, secure 100-plus potential points of entry, or lock every door before being spotted by an active shooter? You get help from a system designed to lock the campus down with the click of a button.

With Detex Lockdown System, campuses can secure main doors from a centrally located switch linked to panic hardware devices on the doors themselves. This allows campus safety to save time on the systematic locking of doors and focus on security students and staff. Check out our full article on the Detex Lockdown System and how we can help you enhance your campus security plan.

Lastly, if your campus doesn’t have a security team, consider reaching out to an AEGIS security consultant to design and implement the best plan for your university or college. Additionally, AEGIS Security & Investigations offers security training programs designed for people at all levels within any organization. These trainings are the first step in understanding you and your organization’s capabilities and responses to an incident. Taking the steps to become better prepared in hostile situations cannot only save your life but help save the lives of those around you.

AEGIS Security & Investigations is a Los Angeles region company that is licensed and insured in the State of California to provide high-end armed and unarmed regular and temporary off-duty police officers, bodyguards, security officers, loss prevention agents, and event staff. Additionally, we offer services for private investigation, consultation, people locates, and background investigations. Our trainings and workshops in the field of security licensure and counter-terrorism have been featured in news media and are renowned for their efficacy. For more information or to contact us, visit


By Chelsea Turner & Jeff Zisner