Army Radio: Cops were well armed to fight gunman

Police inquiry reportedly finds cops left automatic gun, flak jackets in the car when they got to yeshiva.

By REBECCA ANNA STOIL, JPOST STAFF
March 12, 2008 23:44
2 minute read.
Army Radio: Cops were well armed to fight gunman

Mercaz harav pigua 224.8. (photo credit: AP)

The police officers who were the first to arrive on the scene of last week's terror attack at the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva left two flak jackets and an automatic weapon in their patrol car and were completely exposed when they approached the building on foot, Army Radio reported on Thursday. According to the report, which quotes a police investigation of the incident, standard operating procedure requires all police officers on patrol to carry automatic weapons and flak jackets so as to be prepared in the event of an exceptional situation - such as a terrorist attack. The investigation found that the two police officers who arrived at the scene did possess the required equipment, but left it in the car when they ran to take care of the wounded. Meanwhile, two days after Jerusalem District Police chief Cmdr. Aharon Franco presented the latest findings of the probe into the yeshiva attack to general command staff, police officers expressed their embarrassment on Wednesday over the actions of one of the policeman who chose not to pursue the terrorist into the building. One of the main questions in the investigation concerns the police's failure to pursue the terrorist, Ala Abu Dhaim, for at least eight minutes after he began shooting at yeshiva students. One of the two police officers who arrived on the scene minutes after the attack began said she had noticed a bus approaching and had run down the street to keep the bus from coming near the building. The second, a patrolman who had recently finished training school, decided to "seal off" the area by standing at the entrance to prevent unwitting civilians from entering. It is this decision that has faced the greatest criticism, from both within and outside the police force. Officers said Wednesday that they would expect any armed officer who had completed even basic police training to respond with an attempt to neutralize the terrorist. Other critics have pointed out that the decision seemed strange, given that no civilian would have "accidentally" entered the building when the gunshots from within were clearly heard in the streets outside. A second question threatening to undermine the police narrative originally proposed is the question of the "identification" cap that IDF Paratrooper Capt. David Shapira borrowed from a policeman at the scene before entering the building to pursue the terrorist. Although it was initially assumed that Shapira took the cap from the policeman standing at the entrance, the cap was later identified as a detective's cap, not the type of headgear the patrolman would have been wearing. In his Monday briefing, Franco noted that the investigation was still ongoing. The final results are expected in the next few days.


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