The arrest of a California college professor who apparently had been formulating detailed plans to carry out a deadly attack at University High School in Irvine, California is possibly one example of this type of intervention. Police arrested Rainer Reinscheid after he was observed by police setting a fire on school property. The police had stepped up patrols after a series of fires on school property and at an administrator’s residence.
Reinscheid was apparently distraught after his 14-year-old son who was a student at the school committed suicide in March. When police checked messages on Reinscheid’s cell phone, they found detailed emails outlining how the man intended to use firearms to murder specific administrators at the school, kill and sexually assault students and burn down the school.
There have been many instances where students and non-students who had planned attacks on American schools have been caught before they could carry out their attacks. The Bibb County Public School System in Macon, Georgia has averted six planned school shootings, one planned school bombing and a planned double suicide using three techniques that have since become widespread in the United States, Canada and other countries – visual weapons screening, home searches and multidisciplinary threat assessment.
While the media tends to focus on incidents that take place, they often do not learn of heavily report instances where tragedy is averted through proactive measures. This should not surprise us as the American media delivers what the public prompts it to do. As business enterprises, media outlets respond to the measurement of ratings and deliver news in ways that are calculated to draw readers and viewers. As a consequence, important information about how we can better protect schools is often not given as much exposure as upsetting and tragic information.