By Deputy Gage Donnell
Not many people know of Beslan, Russia. Well, this topic is going to start with what happened in the simple town of Beslan and how it could be coming to America. Beslan had a population of around 40,000 people. Most were farmers, and poor industrial development.
50 Chechen and Arab suspects began a 53hr siege that held 1200 hostages, 339 Dead and 700+ dead.
For weeks, the hostage takers began to embed themselves and stage sympathizers in the city. On the day of the attack they moved to the only dual purpose school in the city. This school celebrated the first day of school as a day for all of the families to join the students. This was to commemorate their child’s first day of education. The terrorists chose the school because of its floor plan, specifically because it would suffice in making rapid and effective counter-assault difficult.
The suspects came armed with Ak-47’s, Sniper rifles and even an RPG. Several explosives (grenades, HME….etc) were set up as booby traps in order to alert them of impending counterattack.
A security officer and a policeman were on-scene as the takeover began and were killed immediately. As the school went into lockdown, response came from military units many hours later. The time delay allowed the suspects enough time to fortify their position.
During the siege, more than 100 men, women and children, including babies, were penned in an unventilated gym. As days passed without food or water, temperatures rose to 115 deg.
Survivors ate flowers they’d brought for the teachers and were fighting amongst themselves over urine to drink from their shoes. Women and some children were repeatedly and continuously raped by the terrorists.
Adult males and larger male students were used as forced labor to help fortify the building and then executed.
Bodies were thrown out of an upper-story window, down onto a courtyard.
The terrorists used negotiations to buy time to fortify their defensive positions. Hostages (mostly women and children) were surrounded by armed guards standing on “dead man switches” wired to explosives.
Children were forced to sit on window sills to serve as sniper shields. The terrorists used an amphetamine to keep awake.
Armed, outraged parents and other civilians arrived and initiated rolling gunfights outside the school in a futile attempt to defeat the takeover. The crowd identified one embedded terrorist and literally ripped him apart.
The media was everywhere and unrestrained. So many people were milling around inside the perimeter that responders often could not establish a clear field of fire.
Explosions touched off inside the school starting multiple fires. Russian Special Forces initiated a counter assault however terrorist snipers mercilessly gun downed the soldiers and children they were trying to rescue.
Responders who made it inside had to jump trip wires and as they ran up stairs under fire from above. By then, terrorists were holding hostages in virtually every room.
Teams were subjected to continual ambushes.
Gunfights occurred predominately within a range of 6ft; some responders having to fight for their lives in places so cramped they couldn’t get up from their hands and knees.
The children who successfully fled the building were so crazed by thirst that they ran to an outdoor spigot and were killed by gunfire as they filled their hands with life saving water.
Terrorists who escaped during the melee ran to the homes of sympathizers. Some townspeople who volunteered to help as stretcher-bearers for the injured were, in fact terrorists.
By the end 300 RSF responded, 21 were killed during the fight, 32 of the 50 terrorists were killed., 1 captured and 17 escaped and are still at large today.
Now, do I think an incident of this horror could take place today, here, NOW?
No…..but it begs the question: as a first responder could I sustain myself and victims for 58hrs worth of combat?
Could I enter and be able to accurately put down a threat after negotiating booby-traps and dead children?
If you work in a field that could require you to respond to such a situation, COULD YOU?
During America’s history of school shootings, we have responded fast and saved lives, but do we have the mindset to combat a well planned, symphonic Attack?
A lesson to learn here is this:
-S.I.M (security, initiate plans for attack, Medical care to the wounded)
If we can come to the realization that attackers like these exist and have every intention of carrying out such an operation on American soil, I believe we can better protect our future. The better we prepare for such an eventuality, the less likely an attack of this magnitude will succeed.
How many sides to a box? 4 or 6? Think outside of it and do work. This is what is going to win the fight.
My next article will be posted in the coming days. It outlines a course I attended called Terrorism response (active shooter). This program was taught by an instructor from the San Marco’s Police department, my office and the Quantico Marine base police and is known as A.L.E.R.R.T, or Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training. I will go in depth with what new and solid approaches to active shooter, room clearing and methods that were introduced for you to take back to your patrol car, fellow responders or even your local school board.
Until next time
stay safe 10-8