After Wednesday’s shooting attack, many are wondering about security for members of Congress in the future.
"We were sitting ducks, we had nothing to fight back with, but bats, we were sitting ducks. He was not able to get onto the field because the gate was locked on the other side, if he would have gotten on the field, it would have been a bad situation,” said Representative Roger Williams.
Fred Burton, the Vice President of Intelligence at Strafor, said the attacks are going to be a game changer for protection.
"One thing I know for sure, is that tragedy forces changes, bureaucracies don't necessarily change on their own, so there are going to be protection changes out of this, and I think hard questions need to ask,” said Burton.
Burton used to investigate these types of crimes while working for the state department, and he said there will no doubt be some changes made after the shooting attack.
"I think it's the kind of event that will really be a game changer inside the protection field, mostly inside the beltway, because everybody thinks of the President, the Secretary of State being protected all the time, but nobody really understands how protection works when you're looking at Congressman or others such as Supreme Court Justices, so there's going to be a ripple effect across the entire protective space behind the scenes over the next 24 to 48 hours,” said Burton.
According to Burton, typically there are a few people who get automatic protection from the U.S. Capitol Police. People like high profile congressmen or women, and then those who have had a threat raised against them.
But when it comes to events like a baseball practice, he says they'll now have to decide if this is something where there needs to be more law enforcement presence in the future.
“There’s certain persons given automatic protections by the U.S. Capitol Police, such as the Speaker of the House, then its threat driven, and they go down like a pecking order, and it’s usually the top 3 or 4, but high profile senators and congress men and women are also afforded the protection, and then they can also be afforded protection if there’s been specific threats placed upon them,” said Burton. “The interesting part about the capitol police is they’re one of the most well-funded police departments because congress makes sure that they have adequate staffing and equipment.”
The shooting suspect has a past criminal history of battery charges and domestic violence. Burton said while it's not surprising, it's not necessarily a warning sign. He said there isn't really a pattern for the people who have committed these types of shooting crimes.
But, he said it will be interesting to see if the federal officials already had him on their radar.
"How can we better protect these individuals what can we learn from this because that's the only way changes are made,” said Burton.
Burton said law enforcement will now likely check all of the suspect's phone records, and talk to people he knows to see if he scoped out any other locations for this type of attack.
He said that can help with future protection.
“To me when you look at this case though, what I’m going to be fascinated about, is there’s always other targets, meaning no one just goes to one location to carry this out, so when did he start planning this attack, and what else did he look at, that’s going to be the kind of thing that really needs to be data mined if possible out of his electronic records, or out of talking to friends and family,” said Burton. “Having talked to people like this that have put together these types of plans, they usually can be medicated and quite normal once they have the treatment they desperately seek, and in this case with the shooter being deceased, we’ll never know the answer to that question.”
He said even though the suspect posted politically charged things on social media, that doesn't necessarily mean it’s the motive behind the attack.
“I think it’s too early to tell, meaning when you start looking into the motivations of people that carry out these kids of attacks, one could certainly say that this fits the parameters, of a domestic act of terror, you had an individual who appears to be politically motivated, to some degree, striking out at official government targets,” said Burton.