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story.lead_photo.caption Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/STATON BREIDENTHAL --7/1/17-- Little Rock Police Department crime scene personnel collect evidence Saturday morning following a shooting at the Power Ultra Lounge at 220 W. 6th St. Authorities say 25 people were shot at the downtown Little Rock nightclub early Saturday and three more sustained other wounds. - Photo by Staton Breidenthal

A Little Rock police report obtained Tuesday criticized several parts of the emergency response to last year's mass shooting at the Power Ultra Lounge, but it also described the efforts as a "success in every sense of the word."

The review -- referred to as an after-action report -- criticized the performance of the city's Communications Center, which it said had only one call-taker when the shooting occurred and initially dispatched only one fire engine company to the nightclub despite knowing that the incident was a "mass casualty incident."

In total, 25 people were shot and three others were injured while trying to flee the scene early July 1. No one died in the shooting, unlike in other American mass shootings that have fueled a national debate on firearms. The most recent such shooting was on Feb. 14 in Parkland, Fla., where 17 people died.

The U.S. attorney's office in Little Rock said the Power Ultra Lounge shooting was precipitated by the rivalry between Real Hustlers Incorporated, a gang formerly known as the Monroe Street Hustlers, and the Wolfe Street Crips.

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Photos by Brandon Riddle

The report, created by the Little Rock Police Department Emergency Management Team, provides a comprehensive breakdown of the emergency response and said an investigation found that there were 13 different guns fired inside the venue.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette obtained the after-action report through a public records request.

Police Chief Kenton Buckner on Tuesday described the emergency response as a success but said "we still have opportunities for improvement."

The document did not have a completion date, and Buckner said it is an "evolving document."

The wide-ranging review detailed the errors and successes of the response.

"The dispatch of [Little Rock Fire Department] personnel by the Communications Center completely broke down during this incident," the report said.

The shooting should have triggered a larger response "in terms of multiple engine companies and battalion commanders," the report said. While en route, members of the single engine company requested an additional company as they were aware that there were multiple victims, the documents says.

"This could have further prompted the Communications Center that their response was insufficient but it did not," according to the report.

And as the two engine companies arrived blocks away from the scene at a staging point, "they were basically forgotten about by the Communications Center," according to the report.

The report said one engine held there for almost 13 minutes before its crew found out that ambulances had been allowed into the scene. That crew then contacted the Communications Center to confirm the scene was safe, authorities said.

"This delay caused the LRFD personnel to arrive late in the event and likely led to a degradation of patient care," the report says.

The report also expressed concern about staffing levels at the Communication Center, describing the center as "critically short staffed."

Victims of Little Rock mass shooting

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"Any decision to allow vacant positions to go unfilled in the Communications Center is short sighted and long lasting with the ability to regain full staffing slow and difficult," the report said.

Additionally, the report says the Communications Center erroneously told an ambulance service that the scene was secure minutes after police arrived at the scene.

Fortunately, the report said, the scene was safe for the ambulances.

The early arrival contributed to the success of treatment, "but it could have also ended in tragedy had an active aggressor still been in the area," according to the report.

The report also criticized the training of Little Rock police supervisors, saying that they receive a small amount of training when they become supervisors and "very little" of it is related to managing an emergency scene.

The review reported that the responding supervisors allowed a delay to happen before establishing "an incident command or a unified command."

The review also noted the successes in the response.

Police at the scene used five tourniquets and two chest seals, saving the lives of victims, according to the report. If the shooting had occurred before 2015, when officers were not trained to provide that care, the emergency management team said it believes some of the victims would have died.

"It is evident to this review that the training conducted by the LRPD in the realm of active aggressor incidents has been time and money well spent," according to the report.

One responding officer went into the building alone and cleared the top floor before getting support from other officers, an action described as "critical" in shortening the time it took police to clear the building, the report says.

Buckner said the officer's actions show Little Rock that its police force is prepared to respond in a crisis.

During an active shooter situation, police departments across Arkansas say they expect their officers to confront gunmen immediately rather than waiting for tactical teams to arrive. After the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., the Broward County sheriff's office faced criticism over its handling of that situation.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel reported that an on-duty deputy at the school did not go inside to confront the gunman, and that the lawman was outside the building for 4 minutes while the shooting took place.

In Little Rock, Buckner said the department will want to get a copy of the report on the Parkland shooting to learn from it.

Buckner said the department has addressed multiple issues raised in the Power Ultra Lounge after-action report.

The Police Department's emergency management team worked with the command staff from the Little Rock Fire Department, the city's Communications Center and the Metropolitan Emergency Medical Services, among other agencies, to produce the after-action report.

Metro on 03/07/2018

Print Headline: Post-shooting report in LR lists good, bad; Officers’ work at scene saved lives, but dispatching subpar, review finds

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