Chardon, OH School Shooting: SWAT Arrives 1 Hour 15 Minutes Later

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“The shooting was reported around 7:30 a.m. at the 1,100-student Chardon High School [above] about 30 miles east of Cleveland,” washingtonpost.com reports. According to the live blogger at blog.cleveland.com, ”Parent Jeannette Roth, who had heard from her son Joshua, a junior, said he told her the shooting happened while students were eating breakfast in the cafeteria and waiting for first period. Suddenly a boy ‘stood up and started shooting, and then it was chaos.’ A local official confirmed . . . three boys and a girl were injured. Four ambulances — from Chardon, Kirtland, Burton and Chesterland — are waiting at the door of the high school at 8:15 a.m. . . .

Parents were being told at 8:21 that it might not be safe to remain near the school. Maple Elementary school across the street was being evacuated. Police are blocking streets near the school as they go through the building in search of the shooter. A teacher saw the shooting and chased the gun-wielder, who escaped.

At 8:30, students were being evacuated from the school and are going to Maple Elementary. Many, scared, could be seen holding hands and crying . . .

Around 8:45, the Lake County SWAT team has arrived with a couple of big vehicles.

The suspect was already in custody, although we don’t know how that happened just yet.

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

80 Responses to Chardon, OH School Shooting: SWAT Arrives 1 Hour 15 Minutes Later

  1. avatarST says:

    It must be stated that the purpose of a SWAT team is to protect other officers from criminals with better skills behind a firearm,and not to ‘rescue’ civilians from a spree shooter.So long as police are not directly threatened by an active shooter,there is no need to an elite police force to respond with any specific alarcity.Defending the public is a noble goal,but its not the lawman’s responsibility.

    The unfortunate victims inside came to this understanding much,much too late.

    • avatarRobert Farago says:

      So we’re clear: are you saying that SWAT’s central role is to serve no-knock warrants to suspected drug dealers?

      • avatarMike OFWG says:

        Or to people who are behind on their government backed student loan payments.

      • avatarScottH says:

        To sum up “Warren v DC,” there is no duty to protect individuals. LE have the obligation solely “to promote the general welfare….,” or if you prefer, “clean up after the mess and investigate crime.

        As we’ve seen from Columbine, VT amongst other places, SWAT’s 1st duty would be to cut off the school from the outside so shooters are isolated and can’t escape. Then, with the protection of officers as the priority, go in and apprehend any shooters.

    • avatarBuuurr says:

      Actually there were police band reports of a second shooter who was still on the loose. In this case I can’t think of anyone better to clear the school of a potential shooter than SWAT.

  2. avatarcaffeinated says:

    Another “gun-free zone” saved by liberal legislation.

  3. avatarRobert says:

    It is hard to imagine that this could happen to a town so close to me. Chardon is within an hour drive from where I live.

  4. avatarsdog says:

    “Defending the public is a noble goal,but its not the lawman’s responsibility.

    The unfortunate victims inside came to this understanding much,much too late.”

    are you trying to say that the kids simply minding their own business eating breakfast actually gave any consideration to your statement? what kind of 15-17 yr old thinks about this?

    @RF, yes it would seem that swat cops had to finish their wax job on their apc before leaving on a call after shooting some dogs last night, disgusting.

  5. avatarready, fire,aim says:

    75 MINS? ……WELL WE’LL GET THERE AFTER BREAKFAST …OK

  6. avatarRopingdown says:

    When seconds count, SWAT is 45 minutes away.
    The LAPD has released statistics in prior years which indicate that SWAT is used approximately half the the time for “high-risk warrants,” and the other half for other duties such as active shooter control, protection of dignitaries, and other.
    If you want fast effective response to a situation like Columbine, encourage your department to have non-SWAT LEO’s carry rifle plates and carbines in their cruiser. LAPD SWAT has lost 1 LEO in 42 years, so SWAT clearly isn’t as dangerous as being, say, a roofer or commercial fisherman.

  7. avatarScott says:

    To be fair, y’all bitch when SWAT responds too slow and when they get called in too fast. If I didn’t know better, I’d say some of you just like to bitch.

    • avatarTTACer says:

      No, we bitch when they murder dogs and veterans, and we bitch when they stand around while a woman and her two daughters are raped and murdered. I think that is a pretty fair criticism.

    • avatarGS650G says:

      How about SWAT not responding to one of the few calls that warrants their attention for 75 minutes? The taxpayer buys them all these cool toys and pays for all this training and they show up when they did?

    • avatarAharon says:

      A school shooting with multiple shots fired, in a cafeteria, is a valid reason to call in a police tactical unit. Kicking in someone’s door at 2Am based on nothing more than some allegation about a person is probably not a good and valid use of SWAT resources and tax revenue.

      • avatarcaffeinated says:

        Do you even know the basic function of police tactical units? What if that 2AM door kick was to rescue one of your loved ones? What if it was to take down the well armed urban crackhouse down the street?

        I hate to break it to you but there actually are quite a few steps to obtaining a “no knock” warrant.

        What is your training and experience in the deployment of SWAT and SRT units? I suppose you’ve done it for a career based upon your statements.

        • avatarBill says:

          I have a better idea. Let’s disband all SWAT teams across the country, after all, if it saves one innocent life it; will be worth it.

          PS – you are contradicting yourself.

        • avatarAharon says:

          Too bad that there have been too many failures in approving the step taking process to unleash a no-knock SWAT response.

        • avatarcaffeinated says:

          @Bill — How am I contradicting myself and how about the lives that are saved? I guess those don’t count.

          @Aharon — Name a few.

  8. avatarGS650G says:

    the Krispy Kreme light wasn’t on yet, get with the program will ya?

  9. avatarsdog says:

    while you boohoo about the treatment of cops, a bunch of kids got shot, this is not the time to defend the response time of cops who took over an hour to drive across their “city” which is one 4.6 miles total area, i’m sorry but that is pathetic. i think ropingdown’s comments about patrol cops carrying ar’s is spot on.

    • avatarRobert Farago says:

      Why do you need an AR to take down a kid with a gun?

      • avatarBuuurr says:

        Beat me too it. A school official chasing one did the trick.

      • avatarJust Another Matt says:

        cause an AR is far more accurate than a handgun especially if there is any distance beyond couple of yards

        • avatarBuuurr says:

          One would think that a cop would be more than a match for a kid with handgun. An AR is also a lot more powerful to be shooting around all those other kids and the people gathered one would think.

        • avatarJustin says:

          One would also want the capability to engage the target as accurately as possible as soon as possible. An AR will give you that capability.

      • avatarJustin says:

        If you knew you were going to be in a gunfight today and couldn’t avoid it, which would you rather have?

        AR15+ handgun or handgun only?

        It’s a no brainer.

        • avatarST says:

          A .45 ACP 1911 in a staff instructor’s hand> any long arm in a patrol car miles away from the scene of the attack.

        • avatarJustin says:

          Seconded, but let’s be honest, that’s not currently possible or happening in our nation.

      • avatarsdog says:

        they type of weapon and how many the shooter had was unknown at first, that is why i think an ar would be good because of the range+ rounds that can be carried together.

      • avatarRopingdown says:

        RF, my comment is based on a common reality: The nearest LEO’s to a crisis (an active shooter in a school, for example) are often slow to effectively respond because they know they are too lightly armored and that their handgun can’t be used to pick off a shooter in the middle of students at 20-40 yards. Increasing departments ARE experimenting, providing patrolmen with over-the-shirt rifle plate vests and an AR. The hoped-for result is that active shooters can be stopped more quickly without harm to the officer (the plates) or to the young folks around the shooter (a carbine allowing the LEO much greater accuracy from a much greater range). Is this strange? As for the PR issues (re Caffeinated et al): Many of us think ‘planned’ operations have the time to be effective without so much shooting, but that that active shooter cases are where more of the money and training should go. We care MUCH more about saving students than about what happens when the PD takes down a crack house or illegal gambling operation. No? Discuss…..

        • avatarcaffeinated says:

          The problem is that the common misconception is that SWAT teams are always at the ready and purposed for taking down active shooters. That is really the exact opposite of how most SWAT teams operate. Patrol officers will almost always arrive before.

          A lot of the in service training I’ve experienced has recently focused on stopping the active shooter threat. That reality we face since our legislators “wisely” choose to make schools a gun-free zone. Given the quality (or lack of) teachers I’ve had the pleasure of dealing with; I’m not entirely convinced they would make a great armed frontline defense. For them to be effective, the weapon would have to be accessible. That could prove to be dangerous given the “kids” in K-12 education these days.

        • avatarRopingdown says:

          Agree with your (and other’s) comments about misunderstanding SWAT duties. I’m not comming from that POV. I think between CCW and patrolmen trained to respond quickly with plates and a carbine, we may be able to reduce school mortality.. And yes, a CCW who opens up on a school shooter had better be a very skillful and cool-headed CCW holder.

        • avatarcaffeinated says:

          The problem with the CCW vs uniformed officer will be identification upon arrival by other officers. There is a good chance that a CCW acting in good faith might be misidentified as the active shooter. There also comes a liability with this as well. LEOs are bonded within their jurisdiction whereas a CCW with no arrest powers is opening him/herself up to all kinds of liability.

        • avatarRopingdown says:

          Generally agree, with exceptions only for very remote schools and schools which insure, or states that provide legal cover.

      • avatarRopingdown says:

        Since we do not have, today, armed teachers, we rely on fast-arriving cops to minimize mortality. By having an over-vest with rifle plates, the first arriving LEO can have more confidence, safety. By arriving at an active-shooter with an AR, he or she can respond more accurately from a greater distance, with less risk of collateral damage. Many PD’s are experimenting with this combination for those reasons, I read some months ago. SWAT is for SWAT-relevant matters. Fast response is for patrolmen.

        • avatarrybred says:

          another option that may be even better for the patrolman would be giving them a pistol-caliber carbine like the SUB-2000. That’s what it was originally designed for and I think it’s perfect for that role. It uses the same mags/ammunition (Glock, Sig, Beretta, S&W 9mm & .40) that the patrol officer already uses and is less than half the cost of an AR, very light and easy to handle. They will definitely stretch out the range of of the pistol cartridges to 100 yrds without any trouble. Departments could add them an not even have to stock another caliber which would simplify things.

          Also since it folds in half it could be neatly tucked away in the front of the vehicle, under the seat or in the door pocket (they’re very compact when folded) so it wouldn’t require opening the trunk to get to. I have both and if i knew I was going to war, i’d probably take an AR-15 but if I had to choose a long gun (besides a 12-gauge) that I would have with me every day, it would definitely be a sub2k.

    • avatarJustin says:

      Note that it was the county SWAT team that responded, not the Chardon swat team (If they have one). That can explain some of the delay.

      I presume that the street cops did what they were supposed to do and initiated an active shooter response when they arrived on scene. After searching for the shooter and not locating him, why not have the more heavily armored and armed SWAT officers conduct the search?

      Active shooter response is about quickly locating and ending the threat. That job usually lies with the street officer, not SWAT, unless SWAT is somehow first on scene.

  10. avatarBryan says:

    Baton down the hatches, man all the internet chat rooms. CNN, MSNBC and, all the major newspapers chat rooms.

  11. avatarJustin says:

    From CBS-
    “The Geauga County Sheriff’s Office said that the suspect turned himself in after being chased out of the school by a teacher, CBS News reports. FBI Special Agent Vicki Anderson said Monday the shooter was taken into custody near his car about half a mile away from the high school.”

  12. avatarScott says:

    SWAT is NOT a first response emergency unit. They never have been. Patrol is first response. What is the response time of those intended to be first responders? It’s not like every agency can afford a few SWAT units to just be standing by like firefighters.

    Many agencies actually do have something like Ropingdown suggests. However that has been squarely criticized here before too. Something like “The Militarization of America’s Police Forces” iirc. Like I said before- too many armchair quarterbacks 2nd guessing everything the police do.

    • avatarsdog says:

      “The Militarization of America’s Police Forces”

      i think that speaks more towards small towns having APC’s, and armed UAV’s, and the like.

      • avatarScott says:

        http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2011/06/robert-farago/is-america-becoming-a-police-state/

        “…Since the 1986 FBI Miami shootout, American law enforcement agencies assume the average police officer needs immediate access to bullet-resistant vests and massive firepower. Military-style AR rifles have become standard-issue weaponry for police cruisers across the length and breadth of the country.

        There is no way to stuff the SWAT genie back in the bottle, or take ARs from cops at the sharp end. You can no more “demilitarize” the police than you can disarm American citizens. (Here’s hoping society doesn’t pit one against the other.) There’s only one way we can protect ourselves from the people who claim to protect us: defund them.

        Paramilitary police are the logical result of gigantic anti-terrorist and law enforcement budgets. By cutting funding to the bone for both of these activities—on the local, state and federal level—we can starve SWAT-mania to death. Truth be told, paramilitary policing is an extremely expensive, non-essential “service” that we can’t afford, both as taxpayers and freedom-loving Americans.”

        Looked it up.

        • avatarsdog says:

          i read it, and that is exactly what i was referring to.

        • avatarRopingdown says:

          It may be possible to de-emphasize the over-use of SWAT, and of no-knocks. I don’t, however, consider having a rifle-plate over-vest and an semi AR in the cruiser to be big militarization (which I’m against). These two pieces of equipment are simply what allows an LEO to approach and stop an active shooter quickly with reasonable safety and effectiveness. Other suggestions are welcome….

    • avatarRopingdown says:

      Scott, I agree that there is a temptation for people to condemn any solution. In my town if you report a rabid-seeming racoon a patrolman pulls up minutes later with an AR and shoots it. Why people think throwing on rifle plates and pulling an AR (or perhaps a well-arranged Benelli slug gun) from the cruiser is militarized on an active shooter call is beyond me. Heck, I’ll do the same if I have a heads-up of a gun threat. Am I militarized? Speed is everything in school incidents, it seems to me.

  13. avatarcaffeinated says:

    Since almost no one here actually has a clue what most most SWAT teams and SRTs are tasked with but will happily run your mouths like you know; let me spell it out.

    These teams are typically used for high risk PLANNED situations. These would likely include barricaded suspects, no knock warrants, and clearing high risk buildings and areas. Keep in mind that unless the agency is enormous like LAPD, NYPD, or the like, they probably DO NOT have a full time staffed team. This means the teams are comprised of sworn personnel across the entire agency and do not work the same shifts. A “call-out” would entail having everyone show up, gear up, plan, and execute.

    Something tells me that this municipality doesn’t have a full time team. If they did, I’m sure some of you would throw on the tin foil hat and start criticizing how the “police are militarizing…” Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

    • avatarMike OFWG says:

      It’s tough being a government employee, but the satisfaction of serving the civilians is what makes it all worthwhile.

      • avatarcaffeinated says:

        Being underpaid, at physical risk, and Monday-morning quarterbacked by folks who only get fed one side of the story does get old. The stories you never hear about are the ones of officers pulling people out of tangled burning cars or helping the stranded motorist change a tire. To be perfectly clear I was in law enforcement, but am now in private industry. I feel that gives me a little better perspective that the average armed citizen.

        It’s the ignorant generalizations I whether it be on the internet or printed media that oftentimes ignores facts to create a “story.”

  14. avatarRyan Finn says:

    The whole situation sucks, but what you have to remember is that not all cities have dedicated SWAT teams like you see in LA or NYC. Most places its made up of a rotation of officers whose primary duty is doing something else. If you have to call in the team, some of them may not even be on duty at the time. They might be on patrol an hour away if they’re with the Sheriff’s Office. Charleston County, SC Sheriff’s Office runs SWAT like this and they have a population of 350,000. Where I live now the SWAT team is like this and our town has about 35,000 people. Chardon, OH has around 5000 people.

  15. avatarMikeSilver says:

    SWAT has never stopped an Active Killer Event. Seriously. If you find one, please tell me. I’ve looked and could not find an instance where its happened.

    Most of the time the killer kills himself or is stopped by a Citizen (armed or unarmed).

  16. avatarMatt in FL says:

    Now reporting 5 students shot; one died, four in hospital, three critical.

  17. avatarIdahoPete says:

    Thank God this was a Gun Free Zone! Think of the awful carnage if one of the teachers had been carrying a concealed handgun! She might have accidentally hurt some innocent shooter who had not been read his rights!

  18. avatarRambeast says:

    Now, had there been a CWP holder on site (IF this was legal) how long would have this continued? First responders would be EMS, LEOs, and a Psyc for the DGU. Ordinary citizens can stop a situation like this cold, but we are not permitted. This, Va Tech, Colombine…too many more to list, all preventable.

  19. avatarDon says:

    I would feel very uncomfortable as a teacher or school administrator taking responsibility for the safety of thousands of kids every day without being at least marginally equipped/capable of protecting them.

    Do any teachers/administrators feel this way?

    -D

  20. avatarJOE MATAFOME says:

    I guess when the SHTF, the super cops are only 1 hr and 15 min away.

  21. avatarzak b says:

    Lake County SWAT isn’t a full time unit, it’s volunteer cops from around the county that train to use the equipment. Yeah it’s gonna take 75mins to find out there’s a school shooting, call emergency services, call the head of SWAT, call all the team members (scattered throughout the county), wait for the team to arrive at the assembly point, gear up, and drive to the school.

    In general they get called out maybe once a month. Sorry that I don’t waste my taxpayer dollars on a full time SWAT team.

    • avatarAaron Van says:

      But your wasting your tax money on a solution that doesn’t work at all….?

      • avatarcaffeinated says:

        SWAT works fine for what it was designed for. Active shooters are not a part of the design. Just remember that this was something conceived in the 1980s and before the “active shooter” scenarios became more commonplace.

    • avatarzak b says:

      And I’d also like to point out that Chardon is in Geauga County, not Lake County. Adding even more time to the SWAT response.

      SWAT isn’t designed to respond to an active shooter, it’s like trying hammer in a nail with a screwdriver. And the cost of a part time SWAT team is pretty minimal, a couple armored vans, a few AR’s, and training time. Heck, I think they pay for most of it with captured drug money.

  22. avatarJohnK87 says:

    The best active shooting response is a CCW or LEO already there.

    Next best, the first two LEO’s that arrive enter and rapidly close on the shooter. In cases like this, stats show that the gunman will kill about one person a minute until he runs into resistance.

  23. avatarFred says:

    I think its unrealistic to expect any SWAT unit to respond as fast as regular black and whites, simply based on time to travel. If I have read correctly, the lesson learned from Columbine and the UVA shooting is NOT to wait, but go in and do something, anything to stop the shooter, but I would guess this varies by agency.

    In this SoCal beach town it was two unarmed civilians that ran to the gunfire and took out a deranged shooter at local elementary school while he was reloading his jammed revolver, having hit two little girls on the playground, both thank god relatively minor wounds in the arm.

    The local cops got there pretty quickly after, and arrested the guy, and did a good job keeping the parents calm behind the fence. It was the drills that the kids and teachers and school ground monitors had practiced enough times that everyone knew what to do, to quickly hide in home-rooms all locked down – so kudos to the district. No telling what would have happened with more than one wacko, but I read that the local cops have just bought a $250,000 armored car with a DHS grant to replace the old one that SWAT used in past.

  24. avatarBob says:

    They’re more interested in doing planned break-ins for things like a person possessing the wrong kind of leaf. Those kind of raids are safer and give them all the fun they seek. They’re not very interested in facing down someone they know has a gun. That’s dangerous.

  25. avatarTom says:

    SWAT response to a semi-rural area at 75 minutes will be ineffective.
    Local LEOs need shotguns and rifles, which they probably have.
    The kid only had a revolver.
    An unarmed teacher chased him away, too bad no one had a CCW.
    The kid texted or tweeted he was going to kill people at the school earlier.
    Where did the kid get the gun?

  26. avatarMike S says:

    C’mon, guys. What do we know? We’re just the suckers that pay the bills and get policed.

    • avatarcaffeinated says:

      You’re right. You do pay the bills, but as with many of the comments already present; know very little about how law enforcement actually works.

  27. avatarRoger says:

    Wasn’t the suspect chased from the school by an unarmed teacher after the shootings? Not much about that but he should be a member of SWAT as that took some guts… perhaps he knew the suspect was empty, who knows… but it took courage and we need more people reacting like he did. Bravo.

  28. avatarHD says:

    My brother was part of that SWAT team. Everyday as a police officer or a member of the SWAT team he and so many others protect me, you who are complaining about response times, and so many others. To any of you who complained, just say thank you….to all the brave people who were there yesterday and all the other days to protect us. Thank you, that’s enough.

    • avatarRobert Farago says:

      Please ask your brother if this is an accurate report on the SWAT team response time. And if he could explain the reason for that time, I’d be happy to publish it without comment. Or you can post it here in a comment. Thanks.

      • avatarcaffeinated says:

        I’ve personally established and sat on a perimeter waiting over an hour for SWAT to arrive for a barricaded armed suspect who had just shot someone. And yes it was department policy to call out SWAT for an armed barricaded suspect.

        It would also help to find out what kind of SWAT team his brother is on (full time or on-call), type of call, and whether it is in-jurisdiction or mutual-aid agreement. Every little detail changes the deployment time and strategy.

  29. avatarbontai Joe says:

    Having learned a little more about this shooting, even if the SWAT team had arrived in 5 minutes flat and deployed immediately upon arrival, the outcome would have been the same. I’m guessing that the shooter had finished firing his shots and the wounded were hit and bleeding before the first phone call to the police was completed. The only way I can think of to MAYBE have stopped this quicker would have been to have a police officer on duty in the lunch room in condition red, with his weapon drawn (not very desireable eh?). To have such an officer maintain condition red for the whole day, every day is impossible, the strain of concentration, no allowances for distractions, or boredom, no bathroom breaks, etc simply can not be done, so that means a team of officers to work in short focused shifts. The result would be the world’s safest lunch rooms and the shootings still happening elsewhere, maybe biology class, or the bus stop, or the mall. There just isn’t a magic “ABC” solution that fits all situations, no matter how much we want one.

  30. avatarRoger says:

    Third boy died a few minutes ago. Having seen many comments on other sites the gamut runs from “too many guns” to “lets have a every bully boiled in oil” and so forth. Posters are listing boredom, too much ‘self-esteem’ training and not enough reality and of course after such a sad incident it is hard to really pick out one cause. But not to beat an old ‘horse’ there is one thing that my generation (baby boomers) and even the early Gen X (’60s) did not have and that was the remarkable “electronic game” simulations. I continue to be amazed at the level of violence present in games available to almost all young people and the amount of carnage acceptable in these video arcade type high-tech interactive entertainment (?)… I suppose folks have driven it into the ground but in a land where ‘morals’ are considered old fashioned (and pretty much removed from schools these days – yeah, Biblical morals like ‘thou shall not kill’) and conflicting input is provided young people at speed of linking velocity it seems like “reality” is further away than it has every been for kids. One thing about relativism is that the ‘he said, she said’ indictments of bullying and other often under the radar behaviors are given short shrift even as school administrations supposedly crack down. It perhaps is old hat to say “in my day these disputes were settled outside of school waiting for the buses with a fist fight” and I understand that in some twisted way this seems to be the ‘new’ way of settling arguments but they “learned” this extreme behavior somewhere and I think media has a lot to do with the new methods. Trying to curtail firearms simply has not worked and not just in America (New York as a perfect example) but in countries where guns are not as prevalent there are still terrific ‘high volume’ shooting incidents. I have no hope that our current method of teaching kids how to live will stop this kind of behavior and that doesn’t bode well for our freedoms or our progeny (sorry for the long post).

  31. avatarGranny Grunch says:

    The brave teacher who did the chasing was very lucky in deed that the shooter didn’t make him a shootee. At any rate,he deserves a SWAT costume and honorary membership into that elite society.

  32. avatarDale says:

    Roger, sorry to nitpick but the sixth Commandment is “Thou shall not murder”. This is slightly different than “shall not kill”, leaving room for some limited instances of self defense up to and including deadly force. Other than that you are spot on with your assement IMHO.

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