Avoiding Disaster: How Planning Prevails
Last week in South Carolina an escaped inmate nearly entered a school while fleeing police. What stopped him?
A locked door.
Northside Baptist Church, Lexington, South Carolina. Location of Northside Christian Academy.
According to news reports, and the South Carolina Department of Corrections, the escaped inmate (who will not be named here) was serving a life sentence on a conviction for armed robbery along with assault and battery with intent to kill. He was also wanted in connection with the stabbing of a Columbia police officer the night before he was seen trying to enter Northside Christian Academy. But seconds after trying to enter the locked building he was promptly captured by the Lexington Police Department.
You can see how close the inmate was to entering the school with this dramatic video taken from inside.
Video from WIS TV.
No one at Northside Christian Academy could have foreseen the circumstances that led to such a dangerous person being on their campus. No parents could have conceived that their kids might be in danger from such a man that morning. This was the result of a long series of troubling events. Nonetheless, the school was prepared to protect their students and that is exactly what they did.
Earlier that morning, a parent at another school reported to that school’s resource officer that there was a man dressed in black, wearing a mask walking down the road. That officer reported the sighting to officers who responded to the area. This triggered an area wide lockdown of all schools, including Northside.
It was this parent being observant and brave enough to report what they saw that led to the capture of a violent escaped inmate. Northside, like all schools, has a lockdown procedure that is enacted when necessary. The school carried out this plan and because of it, a violent criminal was not only fended off, he was taken into custody. The preplanning between schools and law enforcement lead to the quick implementation of a lockdown plan that kept a dangerous criminal out of a school. So what can your family take away from this?
It’s one thing to notice something out of the ordinary, it’s an act of bravery to do something about it.
First, an understanding is needed: where you live does not determine how safe you are. While your community may have a low crime rate, that doesn’t mean families should sleep with their doors unlocked. I have said for a long time that security is a mindset. This is a way of thinking that observes your surroundings and reacts before a situation becomes an issue. Don’t be caught with your face in your phone. Be proactive in your family's safety.
Next, if you see something out of the ordinary, pay attention to it and act accordingly. In this case a man dressed in black with a mask is highly unusual. The parent who saw this suspicious person understood that this was not normal and felt compelled to notify a school resource officer. It’s one thing to notice something out of the ordinary, it’s an act of bravery to do something about it. In most cases all that is necessary is to report what you see to police. Rarely does a situation call for you to be involved.
Don’t be caught with your face in your phone. Be proactive in your family's safety.
Lastly, this school had a plan. Northside Christian Academy had a lockdown procedure ready to go if they ever needed it. Likewise your family needs to have plans for home invasions, medical emergencies and house fires. You may never use any of these plans, but in case of an emergency, these family plans may save a life.
The inmate remains in custody, the Columbia police officer is out of the hospital and the students of Northside Christian Academy are in the classroom. All of this is thanks to quick thinking law enforcement officers, school employees and alert citizens. This very strange series of events is over. But you never know what sort of events are going to land you in the way of an escaped inmate, sociopath in a car or a knife attack on a college campus. Be observant of your surroundings and have a plan to get away when the time comes.
Source: Various news reports and official news release from the Lexington Police Department.