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Northern Illinois University Shooting

NCJ Number
Hollis Stambaugh
Date Published
February 2008
48 pages
This analysis of the shooting at the Northern Illinois University (NIU) in DeKalb, IL, on February 14, 2008, addresses the preparedness of first responders, a profile of the shooter and parallels to the Virginia Tech shooter, the features of the incident and multiagency response, the hospital and coroner's office response, the aftermath, and lessons learned from this analysis.
The investigation found that the preparedness planning and training through a collaboration among responder organizations contributed to good working relationships; trust; and the rapid triage, treatment, and transport of the victims. The NIU police officers who were first on the scene at Cole Hall used their emergency medical training effectively; however, too much time elapsed between the murders and the formal notification of the coroner. NIU's president immediately authorized activation of the Emergency Communications Plan. The broadcast messages were clear, described the situation, and told people what to do. Fire apparatus and ambulances performed well in reporting to a pre-designated location close to classrooms rather than arrive at the various sites where victims had dispersed. The fire department paramedics and EMTs, along with the police EMTs, saved lives, as victims were assessed and managed according to predetermined procedures for mass casualties. The hospital had an emergency plan and implemented it when alerted to the shooting. Once notified, the coroner came to the hospital and worked with the families in collecting information that would confirm the identities of the deceased. The families of victims were given appropriate attention and services. Favorable assessments were also made on the management of critical incident stress among workers, debriefings and post-incident critiques, and recovery. The scheduled chiming of the bells, the memorial service, and the counseling support contributed to the sharing of grief, the honoring of the deceased and injured victims, and the initiation of healing. 19 figures