group of people walking inside the mall, Learning From the Latest Active Shooter Scare in Boca Raton, Florida

Learning From the Latest Active Shooter Scare in Boca Raton, Florida

On October 13, 2019, reports of gunfire from an active shooter in the Boca Raton Town Center mall caused panicked shoppers to instinctively take cover and evacuate, ultimately leading to a lock-down. Thankfully this turned out to be a false alarm; however, there are still many things we can learn from this situation. Here are our takeaways.


3 Takeaways from the Active Shooter Scare at Town Center Mall in Boca Raton


Takeaway #1: Communication Is Key

  • Shoppers thought they heard gunfire in a Boca Raton mall when reports stated 2 balloons popped in different locations within the facility.
  • Those that heard the sound immediately thought there was an active shooter in the mall.
  • This panic spread to others, even if they did not hear the sound.
  • However, no one saw an active shooter so there was not clarity on where to go or how to react.

This highlights the importance of communication in any situation, whether that be a real active shooter or threat, or a false alarm.

Having Functional Communication Systems in Place

In workplaces and schools especially, there needs to be functional communication systems in place to get the message out to the masses. These can include PA systems, phone apps, push button notifications, lanyards, pull stations, etc.

TIP: Simply establishing a response plan with your family and friends before arriving at a public place is also important in helping your loved ones stay safe if you get separated during the event.


Takeaway #2: Situational Awareness

  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Note things that look suspicious and report them to nearby law enforcement or security.
  • If something doesn’t feel right, trust your instinct.
  • Assess your surroundings and note evacuation points at the mall or anywhere else. This is something we teach in our programs to businesses, schools and places of worship.


Takeaway #3: Important to Have a Plan for Yourself

Before you go to public places such as malls, movie theaters, concerts or sporting events, make sure you have a response plan for yourself. Be comfortable enough with your plan that you can enact it when under pressure. Practicing your plan whenever possible can be helpful. It is important to make sure you have both an evacuation plan and a Lock-Down plan.

What to do in Any Environment

The video below outlines the 5 Immediate Actions you must know if confronted by an active shooter or threat. Guardian Defense also has a must-read Active Shooter Response Guide that outlines the steps you need to take before, during, and after an active threat situation.

YouTube video

Ensure Safety of Dependents

  • If dependents are with you (children, persons with disabilities, adults too stressed out, etc.), talk to them in advance and have a plan of what the able-bodied individuals can do to ensure their safety.
  • For children, you can teach them a simple verbal direction that will let them know what to do and where to go when these words are said. When this phrase is said, they are to look at you immediately and wait for direction.
  • For teachers and parents:  We would like to share something one of our clients came up with; “Fast Feet” + Provide a Direction. Parents can say “fast feet to the car”, “fast feet to the closet”, or “fast feet to me” as examples. In just 4-5 simple words, your children know they are to respond quickly and without hesitation.


How to Prepare for an Active Shooter Scare Such as the One in Boca Raton…

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