FOX 11 Investigates: Police review security incident at Lambeau
GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- Emergency crews rushed to Lambeau Field last month for what police described as a report of an active shooter.
FOX 11 Investigates obtained 911 calls from the incident.
“Is this 911?” a caller frantically said.
The operator replied, “Yes, it is.”
“Okay,” the caller said. “We're at the Green Bay Packers stadium. There is an active sh... there is a man with a gun in a white camaro in the loading dock.”
The call prompted a massive police response.
“He's shooting people?” the operator asked.
“Somebody reported that he has a gun,” the caller replied.
The caller was a Packers security official who was relaying every bit of information he could to the dispatcher. At the same time, he was directing people to safety.
“Get out of the area. Leave the area,” the man is heard yelling.
Police say the suspect, later identified as Chay Vang, had crashed into vehicles in the parking lot and chased after a former co-worker with his car, ending up inside the stadium.
Within minutes, Green Bay police arrived on the scene.
"There are no weapons seen. He is just standing outside his car,” an officer is heard saying on the 911 tape.
Officers quickly took Vang into custody.
“I can hear somebody yelling. They must have him,” the 911 operator said. “I can hear them saying, ‘get on the ground.’”
“The initial call came out as an active shooter at Lambeau Field,” Commander Paul Ebel from the Green Bay Police Department told FOX 11 Investigates.
When asked how much of a relief it was to find out that there wasn't really an active shooter at Lambeau Field, Ebel responded, “It was a great relief.”
Ebel says the department trains for active shooter scenarios and even has a specific plan for non-game day incidents at Lambeau Field. Still, he says this incident put those plans to the test.
“This Lambeau Field (incident) was a great test run if you want to say that. You hate to say an incident is good for you but this was as good as we could get. Nobody was hurt. There was some property damage and everybody came out with a lot of lessons that we learned from it,” Ebel said.
While there was no weapon found and no active shooter, the incident did highlight an issue with access to the stadium, specifically near the loading dock.
“He was able to go up the secondary ramp and go into the structure of Lambeau Field,” Green Bay police chief Andrew Smith said at a news conference the day of the incident.
“The arm was temporarily up,” Smith said. “That's how he was able to get access to that private secured area down there.”
At that same news conference, Packers public affairs director Aaron Popkey said the team would review what happened.
“We'll do a full investigation as to what took place and of course, see if any changes are needed and enact those,” Popkey said.
Green Bay police met with the Packers and other police agencies to review the incident and what could be improved.
“We brought all the agencies that responded together and we sat down. Everybody checks their ego at the door. And we go through the incident. We go through it step by step. What did we do good? Where can we improve? What needs to be changed? Then we take those lessons learned and we adapt our plans,” Ebel told FOX 11 Investigates.
One thing being looked at is the loading dock gate.
“It's triggered on the inside of the loading dock,” Ebel said. “That's how he was able to get in.”
FOX 11 Investigates wanted to talk with the Packers about the situation. But the organization declined our request for an interview, in part, they said, because of the ongoing criminal case.
The Packers did release a brief statement to FOX 11 Investigates, saying the "...organization places a high emphasis on the safety of our visitors and our employees and regularly reviews our operations and implements any updates that enhance the safety of the facility."
Ebel says the Packers are working to make the loading dock area more secure.
“It's concerning,” he said. “Obviously, the Packers are addressing the entrance into Lambeau Field. They have to and we've talked about it. They have a plan in place and they're working on that.”
But Ebel says there's only so much businesses can do to prevent something like this.
“You can look at any business, any operation, any private business that's open to the public. Someone could walk into your lobby and have ill intent. How do you combat that?” Ebel said.
That's why he says the police response is so important.
“We do everything we can to prevent stuff like this. We train for it. But when it comes right down to it, brass tacks, we're not going to be able to prevent it but we're going to respond quickly,” he said.
In this case, police had the suspect in custody six minutes after the first 911 call. Ebel says overall, there is still room for improvement.
When asked where the plan could be improved, Ebel replied, “In our plan, right now we're looking at an alert system for county-wide law enforcement.”
He says that would be similar to what fire departments use for mutual aid. Ebel says the incident highlighted the need for police to be prepared and have a plan for anything.
FOX 11 Investigates asked Ebel what he could say about what is being done to ensure the safety and security of Lambeau Field. He responded, “We have one of the most robust security plans for the NFL. The NFL does audits, security audits, ever year. We always come out on top. We have plans that other people emulate.”
While those plans were put to the test in December, Ebel says police will be even more prepared if called upon again.
“You never can prevent everything but we are training to respond to them,” Ebel said.
The suspect in the incident, Chay Vang, is facing seven criminal charges, including two felonies. He has pleaded not guilty and is due back in court next month.