Former Baltimore Navy Seal: Las Vegas massacre was foreseeable and preventable - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Former Baltimore Navy Seal: Las Vegas massacre was foreseeable and preventable

LAS VEGAS — Former US Navy Seal Matt Bracken called the Las Vegas massacre preventable, considering the police and FBI trained on a similar scenario prior to the incident as reported first by the Baltimore Post-Examiner.

“This was an entirely foreseeable and preventable massacre,” Bracken said.  “The prior FBI/HRT exercise proves this scenario had been considered.  A police helicopter with a SWAT sniper should have been ready to go.  The airborne sniper could have stopped Paddock after the first couple minutes, saving dozens of lives and preventing the panic stampede.  For that matter, counter-snipers on the ground could have fired into the broken-out windows to force Paddock back into the room and stopped him from firing down on the concert.”

Matt Bracken (Courtesy of Bracken)

Matt Bracken was born in Baltimore in 1957 and graduated from the University of Virginia in 1979 with a degree in Russian studies.  He was commissioned in the US Navy through the NROTC program at the UVA, and then graduated from Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training class 105 in Coronado, California. He served on east coast UDT/Seal teams, taking a Naval Special Warfare detachment to Beirut in 1983.  Bracken left active duty after Lebanon, upon completion of his obligated military service, but he remained in an active reserve status through the remainder of the 1980’s.

Police firing from helicopters rare, but not a new tactic

In May 2017 a 29-year-old suspected prowler who fired shots at police during a six-hour standoff in California was killed by sniper fire from LAPD SWAT officers in a helicopter.  It was the first time that LAPD SWAT officers opened fire from a helicopter hovering over a crime scene.

In September 2015 a San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputy stopped a suspected home invader who led the police on a high-speed chase when the deputy fired on the suspect from a helicopter.  SBCSD said at the time that it was a rare occurrence to shoot from a helicopter, but deputies are trained to do so if the suspect poses a threat to public safety.

In May 1984 an Alaska State Trooper killed a murder spree suspect by firing from a helicopter.

Matt Bracken (Courtesy of Bracken)

In 1982 a San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputy fired a pistol from a helicopter hovering 20 feet above the freeway, stopping a suspect who fired on officers with an automatic weapon in one hand while leading police on a chase through three counties.  The deputy waited for a break in traffic before taking the shot.

Atlanta police chief Erika Shield told the press in October 2017 that APD officers riding in helicopters are trained to shoot from the air and in response to the Las Vegas Massacre they would rely more heavily on the aerial force during large events.


About the author

Doug Poppa

Doug Poppa is a US Army Military Police Veteran, former law enforcement officer, criminal investigator and private sector security and investigations management professional with 40 years of experience. In 1986 Mr. Poppa was awarded “Criminal Investigator of the Year” by the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia for his undercover work in narcotics enforcement. He was also re-assigned to the Northern Virginia Regional Narcotics Enforcement Task Force for 18 months. In 1991 and again in 1992 Mr. Poppa’s testimony under oath in court led to the discovery that exculpatory evidence was withheld from the defense by the prosecutor and sheriff’s office officials during the 1988 trial of a man accused of attempted murder of his wife that led to his conviction. As a result of his testimony the man was ordered released from prison, given a new trial in 1992 and found not guilty. Mr. Poppa became the subject of local and national news media attention as a result of his testimony which led to the demise of his 12-year police career. After losing his job, at the request of the FBI, Mr. Poppa infiltrated in an undercover capacity a group of men who were plotting the kidnapping of a Dupont Chemical fortune heir and his wife in 1992. His stories have been featured on Inside Edition, A Current Affair, and CBS News’ Street Stories with Ed Bradley. Contact the author.