Three people reportedly shot in Six Flags Great America parking lot

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

Three people were reportedly shot in the parking lot of Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, prompting a heavy police presence. According to a police source, the injuries are believed to be non-life-threatening. The amusement park, which closes at 8 p.m., was evacuated.

Read more from WGN/Chicago.

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Horrible. Not sure what more could be done as far as security unless they start Checking every car for weapons at the parking lot entrance?

Schwarzkopf76's avatar

I've been to the park about 8 times this year (I usually get there in the afternoon), and there hasn't once been an employee staffed at the parking gates. Presumably due to staffing issues. Even so, there are exits people can drive in. This is quite upsetting for the area... with all the issues the park has, it's still our home park, we love it.

I can't imagine this will help Six Flags corporate image overall given it has made national news (not that that bar is necessarily tremendously high). It will be interesting to see what happens for Halloween this year given there have been issues in the past with Fright Fest. Unfortunately, I do not entirely put this one on the park either. There certainly are things that the park can do for security, but short of searching cars as they enter - not feasible - this type of occurrence is tough to prevent.

On a whim, I was watching the park online on the mobile app and looking at ride waits. It did seem to be more crowded than other days, with waits on Goliath being 150 minutes and 90 to 120 for Raging Bull.

This is not related to Six Flags, but a curious observation from my quick Disney visit this weekend. Wednesday night we stopped at Disney Springs for dinner on our way to Tallahassee. We parked in the parking garage and made the requisite walk through security and what I assume are metal detectors (which conveniently don't prompt a bag search for most people anymore). Didn't think much of it at the time.

We returned to Orlando Friday and stayed at Port Orleans Riverside. We had intended on boating over to Springs for dinner but weather closed the boats and forced us to a bus. When we got off the bus at Disney Springs I expected to go through security and the metal detectors again...but there are no detectors at the bus passenger entrance area. (There were a couple of officers with a dog, but no metal detectors). Since there are no metal detectors at the Disney just assuming that nobody staying at a resort is carrying a weapon? I find this a pretty glaring hole in the security.

Now, I get a lot of this is for show...and people intent on doing harm will find a way. But, this does seem to be low hanging fruit and I can't think of a good reason why they are choosing not to implement the same procedures that cover all park guests, and car visitors to Disney Springs, particularly since they know this was a target of interest for the Pulse shooter.

"You can dream, create, design, and build the most wonderful place in the world...but it requires people to make the dreams a reality." -Walt Disney


there hasn't once been an employee staffed at the parking gates. Presumably due to staffing issues. Even so, there are exits people can drive in.

Same thing at my local six flags here. Fiesta Texas. Common to have unmanned parking gates late in the day. Fairly decent security presence around the parking lot though.

Last edited by The_Orient_of_Express,
Jeff's avatar

First off, they're using Evolv, which combines electromagnetic and cameras to find stuff, and it's way better than dumb magnetometers. Our performing arts center was their first customer in Florida. It's a really cool system, and Disney seems to have stopped a lot of people with the tech. Like any good theme park enthusiast, I like it because it's high capacity. 🙂

The intent of screening though is to keep weapons out of any spot with lots of people in one place in the open, so they wouldn't screen in the hotels. But I am surprised about the gap at the bus dropoff. I don't recall that being the case last time I came in that way, but I could be wrong.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog

Yeah, I get not screening at the hotels. I'm just surprised about the absence of the "machine" at the drop off location. Perhaps it was "out for service" but even the police working there were pretty nonchalant.

I do love the technology however. Entering the parks is so much more pleasant than it used to be. I don't know the price point on those things but it seems like schools may be the next place to deploy them. One reason our school board has resisted is that it would be nearly impossible to get 5000 kids into our high school walking each child through a traditional magnetometer.

Last edited by wahoo skipper,

"You can dream, create, design, and build the most wonderful place in the world...but it requires people to make the dreams a reality." -Walt Disney

Jeff's avatar

Well, I've seen them screen 4,000 guests seeing two shows in different theaters, most of whom show up in the hour before, and there's never any backup. Scanning the tickets takes longer.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog

eightdotthree's avatar

I don’t know if they’re the exact same technology but Six Flags Over Georgia, Kennywood, and Busch Gardens Williamsburg are using them. You just walk through single file and you get flagged for additional checking if something is detected.

kpjb's avatar

Not sure about Busch, but that's the same system at KW and they were at Six Flags America as well, so I'd assume all Six Flags parks are doing it. Saw them earlier this summer at PNC Park also.


Vater's avatar

Dollywood and Splash Country were doing random bag checks. My wife got her small backpack searched at Dollywood; two days later my 12 year old daughter got her even smaller backpack searched at Splash Country...while my wife rolled through with an absolutely massive shoulder bag full of towels and sunscreen (and possibly an AR-15, I can't remember if she brought it or not).

We felt safe.

Jeff's avatar

Yes, Evolv lists Six Flags as a customer. Again, I think it's a pretty good system because it's effective and non-intrusive. It totally changed the vibe at WDW, and it's interesting how they rebuilt the security checkpoints to accommodate a bunch of these but typically only need one pair at any given time.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog

I looked at their website and after watching their promo video I am not sure how it works. If it still uses a magnet does it hold off on sounding the alarm until a camera notices a shape of some sort that would indicate a gun? How does it work with a knife as I would think that could be hidden from a camera? Granted I know nothing about carrying a gun or a knife but it seems like they could be hidden in clothes fairly easily.

Last edited by Shades,

I got word that umbrellas are a problem with the EVOLV. I was told that you should take it out of a bag and carry it visibly as you walk through. I walked through several times with a full backpack and visible umbrella and wasn't stopped. I consider that a win.

Jeff's avatar

It's millimeter wave combined with optics, basically an even lower amount of non-ionizing radiation than the airport things use. The sensors build a 3D model of a person and naughty things they're carrying in real time, and it knows to flag certain objects or materials.

It flagged my belt buckle the first time I went through, but not since, which implies that it really does learn about false positives.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog

Now I am curious about it. If it is a scan I do wonder why would it flag your belt buckle unless it was some weird shape?

The airport scan always seems to flag some random part of my body (left calf and right shoulder the last two times). I get patted down and surprisingly there is nothing there.

Hersheypark has them as well. Getting in the park is really slick now with these and the new entrance plaza.

My first experience with Evolvs was at Disney last summer. My wife always carries a bag and she only got stopped once on our first day. We went straight from airport to park, so she had a few extra items we'd normally leave behind. We think maybe her tablet got flagged? After that, it was smooth sailing.

Jeff's avatar

To be clear, I don't know algorithmically what they do beyond their marketing. I'm just guessing based on how I would build it. I assume that my belt buckle was a certain density it associated with some kind of known weapon, and the shape didn't recognize it as harmless.

My understanding is that they have an optional facial recognition component, but I don't know if that's strictly for access or if they can also profile you. If it's the latter, they could associate the buckle with my face. That sounds creepy, but it's really not that different from being anywhere there's video surveillance.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog

They appeared to be testing these at Cedar Point for a period this summer, but only at the main gate. Kings Island was still using the old metal detectors.

I'm surprised that Universal hasn't copied from Disney here. The TSA-style security checkpoint at the entrance to City Walk is a major bottleneck that I've heard can get pretty backed up during the busy season. It's a really poor experience especially since it's your first impression of Uni.

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