Electronic Weapon Detection System Failed to Catch Shooter’s Gun at Texas State Fair

by Tommy Grant

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The annual State Fair of Texas is currently under way at Fair Park fairgrounds just east of Dallas. It’s big — as you’d expect the Texas state fair to be — with lots to see and do and the event attracts thousands every year. Saturday night was no exception as the park was packed when a shooting took place, prompting crowds to scurry.

Three people were wounded and the shooter, 22-year-old Cameron Turner was apprehended by police after fleeing the scene. According to fox4news.com, the shooting was the result of a dispute among people who were previously acquainted. Turner is claiming self-defense.

According to the arrest affidavit, video shows the man, later identified as Turner, at a concession stand inside the food court buying a water bottle away from his family when a group of males approached him.

When Turner tried to turn to leave, words were exchanged between Turner and one of the victims.

Police say that Turner then pulled out a handgun and began shooting.

The report says that the victim had nothing in his hands at the time.

He’s facing three charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Bail has been set at $1.5 million.

The State Fair of Texas allows licensed concealed carriers to be armed while on the grounds. Turner, however, reportedly does not haver a Texas CHL.

The park is using a new OPENGATE electro-magnetic detection security system this year that’s designed to detect firearms as fair-goers enter and allow security staff to ensure the carrier has a permit.

From WFAA . . .

Italian security giant CEIA manufactures these ‘OpenGate’ towers, which stand about 6 feet tall. The company says its machines can identify threats inside purses or bags.

“You can keep your bag on, you can keep your phone in your pocket and walk through it,” Karissa Condoianis, the fair’s senior vice president for public relations, told WFAA in September.

That convenience has made the technology attractive to concert venues, arenas and school districts. In theory, such devices can find weapons without delaying egress like a traditional metal detector and x-ray apparatus would.

In theory. Like virtually every security measures that’s used anywhere, the OPENGATE system is less than 100% foolproof. The combination of whiz-bang technology and human operators means OPENGATE is only as good as the people who run it.

“If you increase the sensitivity, you’ll decrease the possibility of missing a weapon,” [Yale researcher Nikita] Ermolaev said. “However, the false alarms will increase significantly.”

Ermolaev said there is no evidence CEIA’s OpenGate has ever failed to identify a handgun or rifle.

But critics worry false alarms lead to alarm fatigue, leading operators to ignore actual threats. They’ve coined the term ‘security theater’ to describe systems less effective than advertised which may create a sense of security.

“We believe that, in some cases, installing weapons detectors is more of a political decision,” he said.

You don’t say.  In other words, these systems are there as much to make people feel safe as they are there to ensure bad guys with guns don’t actually get in. Which in this case, at least one didn’t.

Fair officials are trying to determine how Turner managed to get his gun inside the park through their expensive security apparatus. Good luck with that.

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Read the full article here

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