High-rise security on the minds of many in Raleigh

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High-rise security is on the minds of many in Raleigh after the massacre in Las Vegas.

If you've ever been to a celebration in downtown Raleigh (in many ways, it doesn't matter which, but think of anything from First Night to Wide Open Bluegrass), you know how packed it can get.

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Throngs of people jam onto Fayetteville Street and the downtown Plaza and Red Hat Amphitheater. They pack in, often shoulder to shoulder, jockeying for space between local vendors and food carts, and stuck between rows of office buildings and high-rises.

The parallels to the shooting in Las Vegas aren't lost on seemingly anyone. Darlene Souvanlasy from Raleigh says she may be less likely to come to major events in the city in the future.

"It makes me concerned," she said. "A lot of it's being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Big crowds and no control. Times we're living in. Scary."

Others we talked to saw the similarities and the inherent risk in large crowds squeezed into small spaces and surrounded by tall buildings but said they would look past those things. "It is very scary," said Beatrice Bukasa, who moved to Raleigh from Africa. "I feel helpless because what else can we do? We can put security around the place but are we going to go in every room everywhere to check out people?"

A 'WORST NIGHTMARE' FOR LAW OFFICERS

That's the challenge for law enforcement.

"That's one of our worst nightmares," said Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison. "Buildings. You know, every window. There's hotels, motels, parking decks, everything in Las Vegas. And then, with that many people, I don't mean this in a crude way, but it's like shooting fish in a barrel."

Harrison says his deputies regularly participate in active shooter drills with other agencies. "We try to be prepared. Sometimes people don't think we are but there's only so much we can do."

Harrison didn't want to talk about some of the tactics law enforcement turn to during mass event planning but acknowledged what one of our crews downtown this weekend saw: police spotters on rooftops surrounding Red Hat Amphitheater.

"I'm surprised that he saw some of them; he probably didn't see them all. We don't want to tip the bad guys off if someone decides they want to do something like that. But believe me, these guys work very hard in law enforcement. We do everything we can. We try to think ahead. They were looking for anything strange or didn't look right. We practice on it all the time," Harrison said.

PUBLIC SHOULD STAY VIGILANT

Law enforcement frequently stresses the importance of vigilance by the general public.

"Normally a girlfriend knows or a friend or someone notices a change in a person. Not always. But if they would just let us know. My theory is, the public is the eyes and ears," Harrison said.

That's something Beatrice Bukasa is fine with.

"We cannot live our life by being closed in. We have to live and enjoy life the way we're supposed to. I will still go to events and hope that nothing happens again. But I don't know; I'm just hoping. My life is not going to change. I'm just going to be more careful and aware that something like this may happen anytime, anywhere."

Related Topics:
securityraleigh newslas vegas mass shootingRaleighWake County
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