News and culture through the lens of Southern California.
Hosted by

OC undersheriff after Las Vegas shooting: Orange County 'is a target-rich environment'

Police officers take cover near the scene of a shooting near the Mandalay Bay resort and casino on the Las Vegas Strip, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Police officers take cover near the scene of a shooting near the Mandalay Bay resort and casino on the Las Vegas Strip, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
John Locher/AP

Listen to story

Download this story 5MB

A number of Southern Californians were at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas Sunday night, including local law enforcement officers. 

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted Monday morning dozens of Los Angeles City and County employees were there.

There were also several off-duty personnel from the Orange County Sheriff's Department. One deputy sustained non-life threatening injuries after being struck by gunfire, as well as several other members of the department.  

A Martinez checked in with Undersheriff Don Barnes of the Orange County Sheriff's Department for an update on those who were at the festival. 

We know last night that we had several members of our department there—both sworn personnel and their family. One of our deputies was struck by gunfire as part of that incident.

We believe at this time that the injuries they sustained are not life-threatening but they are still being treated. They were there as concert-goers. We didn't have any personnel who were there working in any capacity. They were unfortunately just caught up, like many people there, as just victims of gunfire and a horrific incident. 

As someone who's in law enforcement, I can imagine that processing an event like this is not easy. You know what it's like to be a first responder, and you also know what it's like to be off-duty, trying to enjoy life. What was going in your head as you heard what was happening? 

You hope that those who succumb to injuries doesn't increase. The number is already way too high and that makes it really difficult to deal with. But the first responders, they're the ones running into harm's way when everybody is trying to run from it and [it] takes a psychological toll on the individual. It can take a tremendous toll over time—immediately and then over the next several weeks and months. We want to make sure that we care for them as well. 

The response is very difficult. We do unfortunately train for these types of things as best we can. Prevention is everything so we want to make sure that those who have information make that information available so we can try to prevent these types of acts from occurring. But if they do, and this one did, we have to be as responsive as possible and hope that they don't replicate in any other way. 

How does an event like this affect the way your department prepares for something like this going forward?

Of course, you can't plan and train for everything but you want to be as inclusive in your training as you possibly can. We just recently went through a mass shooting exercise at one of our local malls which would be very much like what was encountered there—concentration of people, multiple injured people. It was a multi-agency collaboration. But you hope that you never have to implement that plan.

Preparation is everything. We do in Orange County have a terrorist infusion center. We're the only county in the state that has its own. That's an intelligence vetting mechanism that looks at counter-terrorism or any types of threats that come into the county. And Orange County is, in my opinion, a target-rich environment, if you will. High commerce, high tourism, high profile areas that we have within the county. 

But the threat has changed significantly since 16 years ago, post-9/11. People like this individual, not even on the grid, who acts out in such a horrific manner. And I'm not even sure how anybody can plan for something like that short of somebody giving us information that's actionable prior to the incident taking place.

Click the audio player above to hear the full interview.