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Thoughts from Cuckoo HQ
Oct 15

ZombiCon Shooting Raises Questions About Security Measures

A recent shooting at ZombieCon has resulted in questions around the security measures deployed for the event. It looks like organisers have serious questions to answer.

One person was killed and 5 more were wounded when someone opened fire at the recent Zombicon event in Fort Myers in the States.

With the majority of people attending dressed in costume and many carrying replica / fake guns, someone seemingly brought in a real gun and then opened fire into the crowd.

People fled from the venue in all directions once the shots rang out inside. 

Police have revealed the video below as part of their hunt for the shooter.


It seems that entry to Zombicon was not solely through the security-monitored gates. It seems that, if you're not looking to give a voluntary donation to attend, then you can enter without being subject to the security measures.

A spokesperson for Zombicon organisers, Angeli Chin, has been quoted in the media as saying:

 "Unfortunately people don't always want to give the donation, or they want to break through the gates, and since this is pretty large footprint, we do what we can." 

Now, forgive our potty mouths but that's bullshit.

That, right there, is a big gaping hole in your safety and security provisions and it's bullshit. 

There's no excuse for not ensuring that all attendees are subject to the same security measures, much like 99.9% of all events ever held. 

If this is the case then this was badly organised. Simple as.

The typical problems with these events

We've discussed this a number of times, actually. Events like Zombicon pose some particular challenges beyond those of somewhat similar events:

  1. These types of events, by design, encourage people to come 'disguised'. So, if you're planning on doing something awful like shoot a load of people, then this type of event is probably a good one to target. 
  2. These types of events will invariably have people choosing costumes that include replica guns. Have you seen zombie movies and series'? There tends to be a lot of shooting involved. 
  3. Replica guns, to be GOOD replica guns, need to look as real as possible. If they don't look real, then the manufacturers are not doing their job well. This, again, makes it challenging.
  4. It's easier for security staff at these events to be distracted. I'm not saying that's what happened in this case. I'm saying that its human nature to be fascinated by the costumes and characters etc. and maintaining a security brief is tougher than it might normally be.
  5. In this type of crowd escaping will be easy. The police are hunting the shooter. He / she likely benefited from the large numbers of costumed characters in attendance, blending in while they were all running away, potentially still quite obviously armed.
  6. People worry about themselves first. It's likely that even those who may have seen the shooter do the shooting ran to save themselves. It's a natural instinct.

The bottom line

For me, the organisers (based on the info currently available) have serious questions to answer.

Having security procedures in place that not all attendees are subject to is ridiculous. Furthermore, that the distinction between who is and who isn't subject to them is based on a simple choice made by attendees is nonsense. 

There is a higher inherent risk in these types of events than similar, without the costume / character element. 

I'd be interested in seeing the Risk Assessments done on the event. 

This is a tragedy. 1 dead and 5 more injured. 

There are evil people in the world. It's our job, as event organisers, to make doing evil difficult.

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