Video report by Louisa Moller, Fox CT
Text by Jenny Wilson, The Hartford Courant
NEW HAVEN — FBI Director James Comey said Friday his agency is committed to helping prepare local and state law enforcement for responding to “active shooter” situations such as the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.
“We here in New Haven and in FBI offices throughout the country will always respond to such tragedies, but will almost always be there with or behind state or local responders,” said Comey, who visited the agency’s office in New Haven and took questions from reporters. “We are trying to equip them to respond more effectively.”
In three different incidents this fall, the FBI has been part of an aggressive law enforcement response to reports of an armed gunman at a Connecticut university. Each incident prompted a campus-wide lockdown. The most recent occurred Tuesday at the University of New Haven.
“It highlights the challenge we face as law enforcement,” Comey said. “These things tend to work in a little bit of fads – disturbed people will see something and copy it.”
FBI investigators at the Behavioral Analysis Unit were also sent a copy of a book that Adam Lanza, who shot and killed 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, wrote in fifth grade, titled “The Big Book of Granny.” The book is about a woman who has a rifle in her cane, and includes violence toward children.
Comey said the unit has been working to better understand indicators that precede violent behavior in order to improve response. He also called on citizens to report to law enforcement even the smallest of concerns, and referenced the, “If you see something, say something,” slogan that the Department of Homeland Security has used to build public awareness for its counter-terrorism efforts.
“In nearly every case that we encounter in mass shooting there is almost something that occurred – in social media, in behavior, in a community, in a religious institution or in education – that if someone had said something about it we might have had a clue to someone whose bent on doing something horrific,” Comey said.
Comey, who three months ago replaced Robert Mueller as head of the FBI, also addressed what he views as the most pressing national issues the agency faces. He cited concerns about the implications of a Congressional budget stalemate and sequester cuts scheduled to go into effect in 2014, the growing threat of cyber-terrorism, and rising violent crime rates in major cities, including Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport.