Past experience helped Tulsa Police react to Thursday's shooting

Thursday, February 10th 2005, 5:29 pm
By: News On 6

Thursday's shooting at Lowrance Electronics in Tulsa could have very easily been a drawn-out standoff. Tulsa Police couldn't know if the gunman was still alive and active in the building, but they moved in anyway.

News on 6 anchor Terry Hood has an exclusive interview with the first officer into the building Thursday.

Law enforcement operations try to learn from past experiences before similar events happen again. The Tulsa Police Department changed the way they handle situations when gunmen take over an occupied building after the shootings at Columbine High School in 1999. SWAT teams there were held at bay for hours and by the time they finally entered the building, the shooters had already done their worst.

That's why Tulsa Police have adopted a policy of storming buildings, even when gunmen may be waiting for them inside. Tulsa Police Sergeant Steve Middleton led the first team officers into Lowrance Thursday, not knowing what he'd find. He and three other Tulsa Police officers bravely went in to stop the shooter before he hurt anyone else.

Middleton says they just can't wait when people's lives could be in danger. "There are innocent victims inside the structure, the suspect could still be roaming around, and they have no way to protect themselves. So our mission is get to them, stop the threat, slow things down and then start the rescue operation as quickly as possible."

Sergeant Middleton says he and his team charged in to Lowrance Thursday, with nothing but a rough sketch on a scrap of paper.