Just two years ago, Texans were faced with one of the worst mass shootings to date when a Lorena man took the lives of 7 people and injured 25 others.

According to a report from News West 9, September 1, 2021 marks the date of a new emergency alert system from the Texas Department of Public Safety.

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On August 31, 2019, Seth Aaron Ator, 36, went on a 10 mile shooting spree in Midland-Odessa. Ator had just been fired from his job when a Texas state trooper attempted to perform a traffic stop on him over a failure to signal a left turn. Ator shot the trooper and continued on, eventually killing 6 more people and injuring 25 others.

Rep. Landgraf Brooks of Odessa filed House Bill 103, titled the Leilah Hernandez Act, after working with constituents and families of victims of the shooting. Leilah Hernandez, a 15-year-old Odessa High School student, was the youngest victim killed that tragic day.

"The passage of the Leilah Hernandez Act means that Texans will be able to receive timely alerts, similar to Amber alert messages we currently receive, if there is an active shooting taking place in their area," Landgraf said. "This alert system could have saved the lives of some of my constituents back in 2019, like high school student Leilah Hernandez. The goal of this legislation is to save lives and prevent mass violence while protecting the constitutional rights of law-abiding Texans."

House Bill 103 was passed and signed into law, and now the Texas DPS will issue an Active Shooter Alert when a requesting agency or entity submits a request for an event that meets the following requirements.

  • An active shooter is in the requesting agency’s jurisdiction.
  • Determination that an Active Shooter Alert would assist individuals near the active shooter’s location.
  • Verification exists of the active shooter situation through a preliminary investigation by the requesting agency.
  • The active shooter’s last known location is identifiable.

The hope is that these new alerts will prevent mass violence by notifying the public of nearby active shooter situations and encouraging them to either avoid the area or shelter in place.

Governor Abbott released the following statement in regard to the 2nd anniversary of the Midland-Odessa shooting:

"Two years ago today, the Midland-Odessa community suffered a horrific tragedy when a shooter took the lives of seven innocent Texans and injured dozens more. This senseless act of violence marked a very dark period for Midland-Odessa, and we will never forget our fellow Texans whose lives were taken that day. In the wake of this attack, Texans across our state came together to support their brothers and sisters grieving in Midland and Odessa, and the state took immediate action to help prevent such a tragedy from happening again. Today, and every day, we remember and honor the lives lost in Midland-Odessa two years ago. We also continue to pray for the victims' families and loved ones, and we thank the brave men and women of law enforcement who bravely responded to the attack that day. Together we will continue to work toward a safer and brighter future for all Texans."

You and I obviously can't predict when or where a shooting will take place, but hopefully an alert system can at least get the word out quickly and help save lives.

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