Sunday, January 20, 2013

California Woman Sought In $160K Embezzlement Scheme

Sierra Danielle Julie Garcia, 26, aka Sierra Danielle Julia Anderson and Sierra Danielle Julia Gregory, is being sought by authorities for allegedly embezzling nearly $160,000 from a Lodi, California-based real estate brokerage firm.  Garcia is alleged to have used brokerage funds to pay credit card bills for her friends and family, wrote company checks to herself, as welll as created fraudulent books & records to cover her scheme.  She also allegedly received a credit card in the business's name which she used for personal expenses. 

Update (2/5/13): Garcia has turned herself in and arraigned last Friday.  The now-defunct real estate brokerage firm where Garcia worked has been identified as Katzakian, Williams and Associates.  Authorities allege that from February 2009 to September 2011, Garcia falsified account entries and embezzled $157,800 to pay personal credit cards by writing checks to herself and making personal charges with statements mailed to the business.

Monday, January 7, 2013


January 7, 2013

By Christopher T. Marquet

The recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut raises many serious questions about violence in our schools, including such issues as mental health treatment, the influence of mass media & video games, gun control, school security and many others. All told, 28 people were killed including 20 young students, 6 school staff, the perpetrator, 20-year old Adam Lanza, and his mother, whom he killed earlier the morning of the attack. In this article, we are going to address the practical steps can schools take to mitigate the risk of such violence.

In the past 4 years, since January 2009, there have been 92 shooting incidents on school campuses in the United States, from the elementary level to the college level, leaving some 70 people dead (not all shooting incidents caused fatalities), including students, teachers, administrators, employees and others, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. That statistic represents a shocking frequency of nearly 2 incidents per month.

This does not include non-gun related violence which also occurs on campuses with regularity. According to the US Department of Education, there were 828,000 nonfatal violent incidents among students in the US between the ages of 12 and 18 in 2010 and approximately 7 percent of teachers reported that they have been threatened with bodily injury or have been physically attacked by a student at their school. In a 2011 survey of youth violence conducted by the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, a full 5.4% of respondents reported carrying a weapon on school property on one or more days in the 30 days prior to the survey.

And yet contrary to public perception, a 2010 study by the National School Safety Center has shown that homicides in schools have actually been on the decline since they peaked in 1993. This trend does not mean that violence on campus is going to go away any time soon, as the Newtown incident graphically demonstrates. Prudence requires practical security precautions and response mechanisms be instituted by all educational institutions.

What practical steps can educational institutions take to mitigate this risk?

Clearly, it is impossible to completely prevent threats and violent incidents from occurring in schools. Nor can turning a school into Fort Knox solve the problem –it would cease to function as intended. Unfortunately, the cold reality is that a truly determined individual – deranged or otherwise – can gain access to a campus and/or into a school facility with the intent to cause violence, particularly if they are a student, faculty, administrator, employee or vendor affiliated with the institution. The key is to be able to identify high risk individuals before they cause harm, slow them down with sensible security measures and allow for rapid and decisive response from authorities.

The Newtown, Connecticut police chief, Michael Kehoe, credits the security measures and training of school staff with actually saving lives during this horrific event. There could easily have been more fatalities had the school not been locked at 9:30 when Lanza arrived – forcing him to shoot out a window near the office and alerting everyone – a prompt 911 call from the office and a teacher who immediately hid her students in a closet, causing Lanza to passby the class entirely before nearly wiping out the next classroom – among other measures.

As such, comprehensive program for educational institutions of all sizes can significantly reduce the risk of violent individuals by helping prevent and respond to incidents when they occur. Not surprisingly, prevention begins with education. Most violent incidents in schools are not caused by someone who “just snapped.” There are often behavioral clues prior to the violence. Some of these include threatening statements made or posted online by the potential perpetrator, a prior history of violence or significant lifestyle changes. An informed staff, particularly teachers, administrators and counselors, is the first-line of defense. They are generally the ones who are closest to the risk community and may be able to serve as trip wires in recognizing serious situations that may lead to violence. Specific training is necessary to help this group see the warning signs and be in a position to take action, if warranted. The training of teachers and administrators should include such elements as aggression management, conflict resolution, listening and communications skills and the identification of “red flag” warning signs.

The student body is also on the front-line and education and awareness provided at appropriate periodic forums is a prudent idea. Parents also fall into this front-line category and regular communications with teachers, counselors and administrators is recommended. They can serve as a critical link to report problematic situations developing with students who may need counseling or other psychiatric care. Remember, violence on campus can come from any number of directions: students, teachers, administrators, employees, parents, relatives, vendors and even terrorists. As such, each interest group needs to be involved.

Security precautions are also necessary. One such preventive yet controversial measure is the presence of armed police details periodically on site. Communities routinely mandate police details at public work sites and this policy could also be employed at schools within their jurisdiction. The critical times for their presence would include the morning drop-off hours and the afternoon pick-up times. Random visits also help create a deterrent effect.

As was evident in the Newtown incident, access control is also critical in deterring, slowing down or stopping a would-be violent individual. Perimeter and access points should be monitored by CCTV, including parking areas. All entry doors should have adequate access control as well as allow for school personnel to remotely control them from within the school building during locked hours; doors should be solid metal with tempered glass reinforced my metal wires; the exterior and the interior of the schools should be equipped with audible functioning alarms.

Communications are key – both within the school and with the outside world. A central functioning PA communications system is critical and should be periodically tested. In addition to fire alarms, so-called “panic buttons” in appropriate locations should also be installed and periodically tested – allowing for direct alerts to authorities if a serious problem develops.

Security policies and procedures need to be well defined and drilled. For example, lock down as well as evacuation procedures should be well known to school officials and practiced on a periodic basis. All class rooms should have solid doors which can be from the class room side. A zero tolerance policy on weapons possession for non-approved individuals (i.e. police personnel, on-campus security personnel) should be adopted.

Rapid response to an incident requires good preparation. Educational institutions should have an updated and tested crisis plan, with established and identified members of its crisis response team as well as a designated crisis center with alternate site available. The crisis team should be trained using a variety of simulated incidents. It is far better to be prepared for an incident than to be forced to react to one in an ad-hoc manner.

Effectively dealing with the aftermath and trauma caused by such incidents is also critical. For example, grief and trauma counseling should be immediately made available. Ongoing cooperation and coordination of follow-up investigation by authorities will be necessary and the crisis team should be prepared for potentially protracted efforts.

Thought question: Have adequate resources been allocated to conduct an independent risk and security assessment study at your schools? If not, there is both federal and state assistance to do so.

As we have seen, a well prepared institution, with practiced policies, including prevention, response and post-event planning, is essential to mitigating the risks of violence in schools.


There are many good resources available to assist educational institutions with their school violence crisis planning and just a few are outlined below. The Guide for Preventing and Responding to School Violence, published by the International Association of Police Chiefs, updated in 2009, we found to be particularly helpful.

Understanding School Violence, US Centers for Disease Control, 2012

A Guide To Safe Schools, US Department of Education

Campus Attacks: Targeted Violence Affecting Institutions of Higher Learning, US Secret Service, US Department of Education and the US FBI, April 2010

Guide for Preventing and Responding to School Violence, International Association of Chiefs of Police, 2nd Ed., 2009

Crime in Schools and Colleges, US FBI, November 2007

Practical Information on Crisis Planning: A Guide For Schools and Communities, US Department of Education, January 2001

Helping Children Cope With School Violence, Lifecare, Inc., 2006

Preventing School Violence: A Practical Guide To Comprehensive Planning, Indiana University

School Crisis Response Initiative, US Department of Justice, September 2003

Secret Service Safe Schools Initiative, US Secret Service & US Dept. of Education, 2002

Checklist for Developing a Plan for School Safety and Crisis Response, State of Michigan, Department of Education, 2001

The School Shooter: A Threat Assessment Perspective, US FBI, 1999

Reducing Violence In US Schools, Dispute Resolution Journal, November 1998

Christopher T. Marquet is Chief Executive Officer of Marquet International, an investigative and security consulting firm based in Boston, Massachusetts. He can be reached at (617) 733-3304 or

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Deadliest School Attacks In US History

The Deadliest School Attacks In US History

5/18/1927 – Bath, Michigan – Andrew Kehoe, 55, detonated three bombs in his hometown, killing 38 elementary school children, two teachers, and four other adults. At least 58 others were injured. Kehoe was the school board treasurer, and was incensed after being defeated in the spring of the 1926 election for township clerk. He reportedly viewed the bombings as his opportunity for revenge.

4/16/2007 – Blacksburg, Virginia – Seung-Hui Cho, 23, shot up his campus at Virginia Tech University where he was enrolled, killing a total of 32 people before turning the gun on himself.  The killings occurred during two separate attacks just hours apart from each other.   He was armed with a Glock 19 and a Walther P22.  Cho had a history of mental illness and his precise motive is unclear.

12/14/2012 – Newtown, Connecticut – Adam Lanza, 20, shot and killed 26 people, including 20 students and 6 administrators at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Lanza also murdered his mother prior to the attack and subsequently killed himself when confronted by police.  Lanza was armed with 2 handguns, a Glock 9mm and Sig Sauer 9 mm as well as a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle.  Although his motivation is unclear, it has been speculated that he may have been upset with his mother about the prospect of having to go through psychological treatment.  Lanza’s connection to Sandy Hook remains unclear as of this writing although it has been speculated that he was a student there.  Prior reports that his mother was a teacher there proved incorrect.

8/1/1966 – Austin, Texas – Charles Joseph Whitman, 25, an engineering student and former marine, shot and killed 14 people at the University of Texas campus and wounded 32 others.  The shooting occurred in the university’s tower where he killed 3 inside and then over the course of about an hour and a half, took sniper shots at people on the ground from the 28th floor observation deck. He was ultimately shot and killed by a police officer. Whitman had murdered his mother and wife the previous evening by stabbing them with a knife.  Whitman used several high powered rifles, a sawed off shotgun and three pistols in the attack on campus.  An autopsy revealed that Whitman had a fatal brain tumor and had been prescribed drugs including Dexedrine, which was in his possession at the time of the spree.  While a marine, Whitman was court-martialed for gambling, usury, possession of a personal firearm on base and making threats to another marine.  He was sentenced to 30 days in the brig, 90 days of hard labor and stripped of his lance corporal rank to private.

4/20/1999 – Columbine, Colorado – Eric David Harris, 18, and Dylan Bennett Klebold, 17, went on a rampage at Columbine High School, killing 12 students and one teacher using homemade bombs, along with 9mm handguns and shotguns. They also wounded 21 others. The pair ultimately committed suicide at the school. It was concluded by a group of psychologists who studied the pair that Klebold was “depressive” and Harris was a “psychopath.” Harris had a website that made a number of violent threats against students and teachers at the school that included a hit list of individuals. His website also described his general hatred of society and expressed a desire to kill those who “annoyed” him. These killings sparked an intense debate in the US over gun control laws, bullying and the effect of violent video games on young people.

7/12/1976 – Fullerton, California – Edward Charles Allaway, 37, purchased a semi-automatic .22-caliber rifle at a local Kmart and brought it to California State University Fullerton where he worked as a janitor. He shot and killed 7 people in the school’s library and wounded two others. Unlike many mass-murderers, Allaway, did not commit suicide and was not shot by police. Instead, he called police from a nearby hotel where is former wife worked and turned himself in. Allaway has a history of mental illness and was diagnosed at his trial with paranoid schizophrenia by five separate mental health professionals. Allaway’s motive appears to be that he believed pornographic movies involving his ex-wife were being shown at the school library – which turned out not to be the case. He has been incarcerated at the Atascadero State Hospital after being found not guilty by reason of insanity.

4/2/2012 – Oakland, California – One L. Goh, a 43-year-old former student at Oikos University opened fire on the campus with a .45-caliber semi automatic handgun, killing 7 people and wounding several others. He was later arrested and identified as the shooter. Goh was reportedly angry at being asked to leave the university for disciplinary reasons a few months prior to the attack.

3/21/2005 – Red Lake, Minnesota – Jeffrey James Weise, 16, and member of the Native American Ojibwe tribe, killed his grandfather and his grandfather’s girlfriend on the Red Lake Indian Reservation using a .22 caliber pistol he had stashed in his bedroom.  He then took his grandfather’s police issued weapons – a .40 caliber Glock 23 pistol and a Remington 870 12 gauge pump-action shotgun – and drove to Red Lake Senior high school and killed seven others, including an unarmed security guard, a teacher, and five students.  Weise left five others wounded and then used his grandfather’s shotgun to kill himself.  After the shooting it became clear that Weise held a number of extremist views and considered himself a neo-Nazi.  Weise had also tried twice to commit suicide the year before the attack and was under treatment for depression.

2/14/2008 – DeKalb, Illinois – 27 year old Steven Phillip Kamierczak, an alum of Northern Illinois University, returned to his former campus and entered the lecture hall in Cole Hall armed with three handguns, a knife, and a 12 gauge Remington Sportsman 48 shotgun concealed in a guitar case.  The pistols he had included a 9mm Glock, a 9mm Kurz Sig Sauer P232, and a .380 Hi-Point CF380.  Kamierczak proceeded to open fire on the assembled students with his shotgun, shooting a total of 25 people, of whom 5 were killed.  Before police arrived on the scene Kamierczak shot himself, dying on the spot.  Kamierczak was considered an exemplary student when he was enrolled at the university, and most considered him a caring individual who showed no prior signs of aggression.  However, it is apparent that Kamierczak did a great deal of research in prior school shootings, particularly the Virginia Tech Massacre, and it is believed he adopted Cho’s MO in a copy-cat like attack.

11/1/1991 – Iowa City, Iowa – Gang Lu, 28, a former graduate student from China at the University of Iowa returned to campus and used a .38-caliber revolver to murder 4 faculty members and a student from his department before killing himself.  Lu was reportedly infuriated that his dissertation had not been selected for a $2,500 academic award.  Lu had received his PhD in Physics and Astronomy six months prior to the shootings.  He has been described as a loner and reported to have had psychological problems and abusive tantrums.

10/2/2006 – Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania – Charles Carl Roberts IV, a 32-year-old milk truck driver, armed himself with a Springfield XD 9mm handgun, a Browning 12 gauge shotgun, and a Ruger .30-06 bolt-action rifle before entering the West Nickel Mines School, an Amish one-room schoolhouse.  Once inside Roberts barricaded the school doors and tied up the hands and legs of his hostages.  He released all the male students as well as a pregnant woman and three parents with infants.  Roberts shot the remaining hostages, ten girls ranging from 6 to 13 years of age, execution style before killing himself.  Three of the girls died on site, while two others died while in critical condition the next day.  His suicide note stated that he was angry at God for the death of his infant daughter and that he had been daydreaming about molesting young girls.  

1/17/1989 – Stockton, California – Patrick Edward Purdy, 24, shot up the Cleveland Elementary schoolyard using an AK-47, firing 106 rounds in three minutes.  He killed five school children and wounded 30 others, including a teacher.  The majority of his victims were Cambodian and Vietnamese immigrants.  Purdy then fatally shot himself using his pistol.  Purdy was considered a disturbed drifter as well as an alcoholic and sometime drug addict.  He harbored a particular hatred towards Asian immigrants, whom Purdy believed were stealing jobs from native-born Americans.  Purdy was arrested several times prior to the shooting for such offenses as selling weapons and attempted robbery. 

5/1/1992 – Olivehurst, California – Eric Houston, 20, returned to his former Lindhurst High School and shot and killed 4 including 3 students and a teacher. 10 others were wounded in the attack. Houston, who was armed with a 12-gauge shotgun and a sawed off .22-caliber rifle, ultimately surrendered to police following an 8 hour siege. He had taken as many as 80 students and faculty hostage before giving up. Houston claimed that he was despondent over losing his job and unhappy that he never graduated or received his GED. He also claimed that he held a grudge against a civics teacher that had given him a failing grade. Houston was found guilty of all charges and sentenced to death. He currently sits on death row at San Quentin State Prison.

3/24/1998 – Craighead County, Arkansas – Mitchell Scott Johnson, 13 and his cousin, Andrew Douglas Golden, 11, murdered 5, including 4 female students and a teacher at the Westside Middle School where they had previously been students. 10 others were wounded in the attack. They were armed with seven weapons (two semi-automatic rifles, one bolt-action rifle and four handguns), stolen from Golden’s grandfather. The pair lured the students and faculty out of the school by pulling a fire alarm and then open fired on them from a position in the nearby woods when they emerged. The pair were tried as juveniles and convicted on 5 murder counts and held in a juvenile facility until they each turned 21. Since their release, Johnson has been arrested and convicted on unlawful possession of a firearm, drug possession, theft, ID theft and fraud. He is currently in prison.

2/12/2010 – Hunstville, Alabama – Amy Bishop, a biology professor at the University of Alabama, attended a regular faculty meeting for members of the biology department before pulling out a 9mm handgun and firing on those nearest to her, execution style. Bishop killed three professors and wounded three others. Bishop had a history of violent outbursts – the most notable incident was when she shot and killed her brother using a shotgun in 1986. The killing was ruled an accident thanks in part to the testimony given by Bishop’s mother. It is believed that the motivation for Bishop’s rampage at the University of Alabama was the fact that in the spring of 2009 she was denied tenure, and expected not to have her contract renewed after March of 2010. Bishop appealed the decision to the University’s administration, but her appeal was denied.

10/28/2002 – Tucson, Arizona – Robert Stewart Flores, Jr., 41, a nursing student at the University of Arizona, shot and killed 3 teachers before committing suicide. The divorced father of two and Gulf War veteran was armed with 5 handguns. Flores was reportedly distraught because he was flunking out of the school. Flores had made a threat about putting “something under the college” and “ending it all” a year and a half before to the attack. He had also reportedly displayed aggressive behavior and stress prior to the incident.

2/27/2012 – Chardon, Ohio – Thomas M. “T.J.” Lane, III, 17, fired ten rounds into a group of students at the Chardon High School cafeteria, fatally injuring 3 and wounded 3 others. Lane, who was armed with a .22-caliber handgun and a knife, was a student at the school. He was chased by the football coach and apprehended by police shortly after the attack. Lane has been indicted on three counts of aggravated murder, two counts of aggravated attempted murder, and one count of felonious assault. It was revealed by authorities that Lane had been arrested twice in December 2009 in two separate incidents for assault. Lane will be tried as an adult.

5/21/1998 – Springfield, Oregon – Kipland Philip Kinkel, 15, returned home after being suspended pending an expulsion hearing from Thurston High School for bringing a loaded stolen handgun onto campus, retrieved a rifle from his parents’ bedroom and shot and killed them. The next day Kinkel returned to school armed with a 9mm Glock 19 pistol, a Ruger .22-caliber semi-automatic rifle, and a .22-caliber Ruger MK II pistol. He entered the school cafeteria and proceeded to fire upon the assembled students. Kinkel killed 2 and wounded 25 others before being pinned down by a group of students. Kinkel explained at trial that he killed his parents in order to prevent them from experiencing embarrassment from his impending expulsion. He also explained that he wanted the police to kill him, and that he had wanted to commit suicide after murdering his parents but could not bring himself to do it. Two psychiatrists testified at trial that Kinkel showed signs of paranoid schizophrenia. He reportedly had a history of antisocial behavior and disciplinary problems and had gone through some psychological counseling and had been prescribed Prozac. Kinkel plead guilty to murder and attempted murder and is currently serving out his 111 year sentence at Oregon State Correctional Institution in Salem, Oregon.

Case data compiled by Matthew R. Marquet, Research Analyst, Marquet International, Ltd.