Last Thursday, March 11, in a parking lot on 17th Street in downtown Bogota, Colombia, a single assassin killed businessman Jorge Enrique Gomez and his bodyguard, Luis Alberto Gamboa. This unfortunate event was recorded by closed-circuit video surveillance cameras and disseminated through social networks a day later.
The video shows the executive near the payment window of the parking lot, very exposed due to his proximity to the door, and his escort behind him, distracted, taking some items from his motorcycle, while another, presumably also an escort (or the wrongly named escort driver), was on his right side with an umbrella apparently attentive to the surroundings. It is important to note that both the executive and both escorts were armed.
The attacker entered unnoticed with the gun in his hand and shot at the executive and his escort who was near the motorcycle. The other protector failed to react in time and only drew his weapon when the attacker was fleeing. The dying executive, from the ground, managed to draw his weapon, but the assassin had already fled on a motorcycle that was waiting for him. The parking lot attendant was also wounded in the shooting.
In social networks, the video generated many reactions from users, several of them also protectors. As always, in these cases, most of them pointed out that one of the bodyguards was distracted and the other one did not react; they also pointed out the bad location, the exposure of the executive and the distance of the armored van, among other details. One of the Internet users commented that these escorts had little preparation, so the case should not even be taken into account. However, we could remember the attacks against Ronald Reagan, President of the United States, and against Yitzhak Rabin, Prime Minister of Israel, who supposedly had the best protectors in the world. However, they did no better than the escorts of 17th Street in Bogota: Ronald Reagan was wounded and miraculously survived, but Yitzhak Rabin, unfortunately, lost his life. No element of the famed American or Israeli protection services managed to fire a single shot.
It is very easy to criticize the lack of reaction and preparation comfortably from an armchair, just watching the screen. Being in such a situation is something completely different. This is why firearms in real situations are effective in only 3.8% of cases, as this study* shows.
Therefore, the concept of close protection is a very "dangerous" concept, since it is a risk in itself, because it proposes to repel aggressions in front of the protected person and at the last moment, something that historically has not given any result whatsoever.
When analyzing an attack, most people focus on the moment of the shooting or the moments leading up to it. This is generally done by neophytes in the field. executive protection. On the other hand, specialists know that there is little to do at this time and are focused on analyzing the minutes, hours and months prior to the attack.
For this reason, we will not concentrate on the moment of the attack, since, besides, there were many more or less accurate comments about it. We will focus on a second video, which was also circulated but attracted almost no attention. This video shows a red vehicle stopped on the other side of the street, in front of the parking lot where the killer was waiting for an undetermined time before the attack.
It is evident that the assassins knew the businessman's activities, and that this movement in the parking lot was, in a certain way, routine, otherwise the aggression would not have been committed with such speed and precision. They did this through prolonged observation and study of the executive's routines. If the businessman had had a counter-surveillance service, the detection of the risk would necessarily have happened in advance, preventing the attack, perhaps, months before.
If the above fails, early warning operations are essential. As we have said many times, attackers do not come "out of nowhere" or as if by "magic", but are in specific locations that allow them to reach the target quickly and also to flee easily. The task of the escort in early warning is to check these points prior to the departure or arrival of the executive. This is why the number one rule of the modern executive protection reads: The protégé can go out to the "seam" (or exposure) only if the early warning agent confirms it. The details of this system are explained in the book Executive Protection in the 21st Century: The New Doctrine.
In this case, the red vehicle with the killer on board was both in a place of easy access to the protected and quick escape, not to mention, also, its more than suspicious hitman appearance, so it would have been easily detected by the agent if he had only known and applied early warning techniques instead of implementing the "close protection" of, as almost always, tragic results.
It could be objected that this type of situation may be frequent in this area of the city and that the person may well have been there by chance. This brings us to another golden rule: In executive protection, nothing happens by chance in a routine place and at a routine time.
With a new operational structure, which includes counter-surveillance and early warning, aggressions are mitigated away from the executive in time and space, for greater security of both users and escorts. This does not mean that "close protection" should be eliminated, but rather that it should be part of a more complete structure, which, in addition, can be adapted to any budget, as we explain in this video:
It is essential to implement a new system of modern executive protectionThe system is discreet and effective, to protect the lives of both executives and escorts.