Officials: School shootings in Washington attract profiteers

SPOKANE, Wash. — The superintendent of a Washington school district said she started receiving emails from people trying to sell "door locks, metal detectors and emergency supplies" within 10 minutes after a school shooting.

Marysville School District Superintendent Becky Berg said the emails she received following a deadly 2014 shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School "couldn't have been more offensive."

"People prey upon your vulnerability in order to profit for themselves," Berg said. "In the moment, you're so vulnerable, it's pretty hard to imagine."

Freeman School District Superintendent Randy Russell said the district was swamped with calls and emails "to support Freeman" following a shooting at Freeman High School two and a half weeks ago.

School shooting experts say profiteering from school shootings is not an isolated event. In fact, an industry of sorts has developed around mass shootings, The Spokesman-Review reported.

"There is a lot of ambulance chasing," said Ronald Stephens, the executive director of the National School Safety Center. "Not only to sell products but to also address litigation issues after the fact."

"I get calls weekly from companies that want to sell and market products, and we do not endorse any of them," he added.

Those products range from bulletproof whiteboards that can be used as shields to experts in trauma, school-shooting analysts and others.

Unlike in the Marysville case, Russell said the offers have been supportive and well-intentioned.

"It's been overwhelmingly positive," Russell said. "With nothing being asked in return and just goodwill."

The day of the shooting, Berg flew to Spokane to offer support and advice.

Additionally, United Way and the Empire Health Foundation are coordinating donations and services. United Way is overseeing all monetary donations for the district, Russell said. As of Friday, United Way had received about $50,000 in donations. United Way will not keep any of that money, a spokeswoman said.