Standing in front of the mobile command center, the head of the FBI’s New York Evidence Response Team briefed investigators.
“We had one, possibly two, explosions based on witnesses,” Special Agent Kimberley Whittle said. “Right now we have several deceased individuals that were at the demonstration. We have what appears to be one, maybe two, craters in the sand; a lot of debris.”
To be clear, the “deceased” in this case are mannequins, all part of a scenario thought up by FBI brass during a joint forensic training exercise. But the crime scene processing and intelligence gathering that followed, under a blazing sun at Fort Dix, N.J., mimicked grisly scenes becoming all too common for the bureau’s evidence technicians.
The frequency of active-shooter terror situations – most recently the attack in Orlando last weekend – has only increased pressure on the bureau to boost forensic team training in exercises like this, so they know exactly how to respond and sort through the carnage for critical clues.
“We were thinking Paris. We were thinking San Bernardino. We were thinking of the attacks that have occurred in West Africa recently against foreigners,” said Whittle as she explained the thought process behind the training event at Fort Dix.
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