Midlands officer on Manchester attack: ‘This can happen anywhere.’


Twenty-five years after he graduated from the police academy, Capt. John Norman with West Columbia Police Department has to worry about different problems.

“When I went through the academy, we talked about CPR and saving babies out of car seats that were in water,” Norman said.

Now, Norman trains for mass casualty incidents like airplane crashes or school shootings.

Monday night in England, 22 people were killed in a suicide attack at a concert in Manchester. It’s a massacre that’s instantly on Norman’s mind back in West Columbia.

RELATED: See photos from the bombing in Manchester.

“Who would have thought Manchester? Who would have thought West Columbia? This can occur anywhere at any time at any point in the world,” Norman said.

It’s especially on his mind as he prepares for a weekend concert at the city’s amphitheater.

“I try to get out here as much as possible, since all of our special events, at some point, come across my desk,” Norman said.

Norman said a lot of work and thought goes into preparing.

“We don’t allow coolers. We have several things we’ve put into play,” he said.

But recently, it’s not bombs or even guns or knives that he’s most worried about — a car can be a more dangerous weapon than all others.

“They’re using vehicles. They’re using everything. They’re being told how to do it. It’s all available for free for them,” Norman said. “It’s going to continue to happen.”

Which is why he said it’s important for his department to keep preparing for anything, and he said it’s important for the community to keep being their eyes and ears.

The final Rhythm on the River concert will happen this Saturday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Sid Kenyon, the General Manager at Colonial Life Arena, issued a statement Tuesday, saying:

From one event venue to another, this is truly heartbreaking. Like many venues, we place great importance on the security of our patrons. Our hearts go out to Manchester, the venue, the staff, the families and all of their loved ones affected by this tragedy.

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