A phrase like this is repeated ad nauseam among our community but it does not really hit home until we understand why, for protective security in particular, this is so vital. No matter how much we plan or how much protective intelligence we utilize, the possibility of an ambush style attack such as this still exists. The most alarming issue, however, is the more we plan and utilize protective intelligence the more we mitigate all predictive incidents, therefore leaving only a worst case ambush style scenario
On March 30, 1981 President Ronald Reagan delivered a luncheon address at the Washington Hilton Hotel. Reagan had entered the building through the secure, enclosed passageway called “President’s Walk” which was built after the JFK assassination. Later, Reagan exited the hotel through at the T Street exit toward his limo as Hinckley waited within the crowd of admirers. In contrast to the extensively screened attendees of the President’s speech, there was this unscreened group gathered behind makeshift rope line. Unknowingly, Reagan passed in front of Hinckley who had motivations to kill the President and in that moment believed he would never get a better chance. Hinckley fired and hit the president in the left underarm, the bullet lodging in his lung and stopping less than an inch from his heart.
On the morning of September 5, 1975, Lynette Fromme put on a red dress covering a Colt .45 pistol in a leg holster and went to the California state capitol grounds where she could not get in because of the security measures in place, and instead waiting on the side walk as she had nothing better to do having been barred from the building, crushing her original plan. Unfortunately, Ford crossed L Street into Capital Park and began shaking hands with people who had gathered in a crowd on the park’s pathway, including a woman in red. Once he approached, she drew her pistol, but lucky for Ford, she was unable to fire the weapon and was subsequently detained.
On a May 15, 1972, George Wallace was speaking before a friendly crowd of about 1,000 at a shopping center in Laurel, Md. Accustomed to hecklers and less-than friendly crowds, Wallace took advantage of this and left the podium behind a bulletproof shield, was greeted with cheers and enthusiastic clapping, rolled up his sleeves and began to shake hands with people. In that crowd was Arther Bremmer, who waited until Wallace got close, pulled a .38 revolver out of his pocket and fired five times, paralyzing Wallace and ending his career.
Not only does this exist with political figures or with intentional attacks, but embarrassing incidents, such as the Channel 4 entertainment show reporters who played a “light-hearted comedy prank” on whichever on celebrity would walk up to them to give an interview. In 2005, at the screening of War of the Worlds, it happened to be Tom Cruise who was squirted in the face with a water pistol. His reaction created a YouTube sensation.
Perhaps one of the most rippling effects of chance was on June 28, 1914 in Sarajevo when six assassins had their plans foiled for various reasons, however the driver of Ferdinand’s vehicle was not informed about a route change, drastically changing the course of history. In this instance, once the driver was made aware of the change, it was only by chance that the efforts to push the vehicle backwards (the car lacked a reverse gear) and back onto the correct course would all take place just feet away from the corner where the failed assassin just happened to be at a delicatessen. Princip, in his undoubted astonishment, was then able to fatally wounded both the Archduke and his wife.
As we can see from these instances, based on our very existence and efforts to prevent mishaps and attacks, we will more likely be fighting out of an ambush if/when an attack does occur. Essentially it is the only option we leave ourselves as if any validated indication of an attack existed the only logical, professional recourse is to avoid the situation entirely. We leave the only option to be caught on the ‘X.’ Get trained, get equipped, have a plan.
Stay gray. – JML
Joseph M. LaSorsa, CPP® is currently a senior partner managing and conducting: Protective Operations Training Courses, Executive Protection & Bodyguard Services, Risk Management Consultations & Seminars, Security Expert Witness Testimony, Workplace Violence Prevention Seminars & Intervention Services, Security Consultations & Seminars, Private Investigations and Technical Surveillance Counter-Measures with LaSorsa & Associates – an International Protection, Investigations & Consulting Firm.