SACRAMENTO — The scene in the neighborhood just north of the Arden Fair Mall was chaotic as a gunman continued to shoot his high-powered rifle.
There were plenty of armored vehicles assigned to the incident, but when police officer Tara O’Sullivan lay mortally wounded early on, none were present.
“One of the reasons it took so long was because the suspect was continuing to fire at officers,” explained Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn.
Officers could not use shields or rely on their body armor.
“When you’re talking about rifle fire, those shields have minimal benefit, and body armor has minimal benefit. This requires specific armor that will withstand rifle fire,” former Sacramento County Sheriff, John McGuinness said.
That’s the argument for armored vehicles which some have said over militarizes the police.
But, the first armored vehicle available was driven from citrus heights; witnesses saw it flying down the freeway with a police escort.
Police say it took them 45 minutes to get O’Sullivan to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Rudy Yslava, who is camera shy, took cell phone video just after the shooting started.
He said it took a little over 30 minutes for an armored vehicle to arrive.
“I think they did everything real good, I just wish they got there sooner,” he said.
One former police official from out of state said the armored vehicle response time was unacceptable and that a bus or heavy equipment should have been commandeered or a diversion tactics should have been used by officers.
But people would still have been at risk, without knowing exactly where the shooter was.
McGinness won’t criticize police actions without knowing all the facts, but says these tragedies invite scrutiny and should.
“I think every law enforcement situation, it provides an opportunity to look at better ways to do business,” he said.