Recent Violence Should Be Wake-Up Call For Venues, Expert Warns

But Los Angeles Sports Arena, site of fatal shooting during Isley Brothers show, doesn't intend to review safety plan.

The fatal shooting at an Isley Brothers concert in Los Angeles on Friday should serve as a wake-up call to venues to increase their security, but violence at concerts can't entirely be prevented, an industry expert said on Monday (Feb. 14).

"The cat's out of the bag — there isn't sufficient security and crowd management to protect the general public at events," concert-safety specialist Paul Wertheimer, owner of the Chicago-based Crowd Management Strategies, said.

An official at the Los Angeles Sports Arena said that's not true for his venue — even though that was where a man opened fire on a crowd and injured three people before he was shot and killed by a police officer.

Marketing Director Jon Lee said the Sports Arena does not have plans to tighten security as a result of the incident. He said the systems already in place are adequate.

"We do take every step conceivable to make this safe [for patrons]," said Lee, who called Friday's incident horrible. "This is a very, very random, isolated situation."

Lee said that, in accordance with the venue's safety procedures, every patron was patted down by security and went through a metal detector before entering the building Friday. He said he did not know how the gunman got inside the arena, which, on that night, held a sold-out crowd of about 14,000.

Lee said the venue uses both a private security company, Contemporary Services Corporation, and off-duty Los Angeles Police Department officers in uniform to work their events.

Officials at CSC could not be reached for comment.

Under Investigation

The Isley Brothers were performing on a bill dubbed "Valentine's Super Love Jam," when a man began firing bullets near a concession stand at about 11 p.m., authorities said.

The coroner's office identified the suspected gunman as 24-year-old Oscar Rene Figueroa.

Authorities have not determined a motive in the attack, a police spokesperson said. Police said the investigation is ongoing and would not speculate on how the gunman entered the building.

Two of the victims struck by the attacker were treated and released. The third, a 19-year-old man who was hit in the abdomen, remained in serious but stable condition at County-USC Medical Center on Monday afternoon, according to spokesperson Adelaida De La Cerda.

The shooting at the concert was extremely rare, Gary Bongiovanni, editor of the concert industry magazine Pollstar, said.

"I can't think of a single [other] situation where a police officer actually had to shoot and kill someone inside a venue," Bongiovanni said.

Ron and Ernie Isley were backed by a band during their short tour that ended in Minneapolis on Monday. The Isley Brothers, whose songs include "Twist and Shout" (RealAudio excerpt) and "It's Your Thing" (RealAudio excerpt), rose to fame in the late '50s.

Preventive Measures

Van Johnson, general manager at the Riverside Theatre in Milwaukee, where the Isley Brothers played on Sunday, said he was not aware of Friday's incident and did not feel that it was Los Angeles promoters' duty to inform him. "I'm shocked," he said Monday.

Johnson also said he thought his venue takes adequate security measures, saying that the theater uses hand-held metal detectors and has an educated security staff.

But Wertheimer said he's observed that "certain hooligans now are beginning to realize that they can become violent at concerts and possibly get away with it."

"It's still possible to bring in weapons or to cause chaos at an event," he said. "I think at one point nobody thought you could get away with that. Woodstock certainly proved that you could."

Wertheimer noted that Friday's shooting follows two other recent violent incidents at concerts in California. He cited the mosh-pit-related death of 14-year-old Christopher King in San Bernardino in April and the melee that ensued at a hip-hop show featuring rapper Eve and the Hot Boys in Oakland last month.

Officials at San Francisco Bay Area venues since have said they would re-evaluate their handling of rap events.

But Wertheimer said that venues should keep security consistent.

"It's not just the acts," he said. "They have to look at the profile of the kinds of people who are going to come."