When an armed guard isn't enough: Venues, clubs review security after Orlando

The Takeaway

The shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida raises a lot of questions about security measures at concert venues, sporting arenas, and dance clubs.

There were armed, off-duty police officers and bouncers at Pulse when an assailant carried out the worst mass shooting in modern American history, but there were no metal detectors, and the bouncers weren't checking bags or patting people down, according to eyewitnesses.

One witness told the Orlando Sentinel that the shooter, Omar Mateen, had been a regular at the club and had attended Pulse dozens of times over the past three years.

Just two days before the shooting, Christina Grimmie, a former contestant on the singing competition program "The Voice," was shot and killed while signing autographs after a concert in Orlando.

What types of security measures and design changes can clubs and concert venues make to ensure the safety of their guests? David A. Yorio, managing director of Citadel Security Agency, a company specializing in security at high profile public events, says clubs need to make strict security measures mandatory.

“The minimum should be walk-through metal detectors, wanding, and, specifically, permanent venues specifically should be designed in a way that you can lock down the venue or prevent further entry past certain points,” he says.

Yorio argues that venues should have secondary entrance points for additional screening.

“It’s similar to an airport — you have sort of a soft check at the front door, but then you have your hard check at the metal detectors, and then beyond the metal detectors there’s a chokepoint where you could stop anybody who would make it through there,” he says.

Though it may seem severe, Yorio says that America must accept high levels of security in almost all public spaces.

“We need to get away from anything being a soft target,” he says.

In 2016, Yorio says that every person looking to enter a nightclub should be walking through a metal detector and scanned with a security wand as well. When looking at the attack at Pulse specifically, he says that the club was particularly vulnerable.

“It was 2 am, I’m assuming that a lot of people had their guard down by that point, the majority of the crowd was in for the night, and this gentleman was [possibly viewed as] a regular,” Yorio says. “There was a patio that was wide open, there were backdoors and side doors that were open, though as we know [Mateen] came through front entrance ... Everything about the design is flawed.”

Editor’s Note: The audio portion of this interview incorrectly states that Omar Mateen used an AR-15. He used a Sig Sauer MCX, which is similar to an AR-15.

This story is originally from The Takeaway, a show that invites you to be part of the American conversation.

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