CHICAGO -- The mass shooting in Las Vegas that left 58 dead and 515 injured is putting the spotlight once again on security and safety at events that draw big crowds around Chicago.
Grant Park is the staging area for the race. Fencing and other security measures are already going up.
Crews are preparing for one of Chicago’s largest public events. They’re moving concrete barricades and setting up security for Sunday’s Chicago Marathon.
“As we move toward event day, we’ll keep working with our Chicago Police Department, federal agencies, the fire department,” Carey Pinkowski, Chicago Marathon race director, said.
Pinkowski called the mass shooting in Las Vegas heartbreaking and said marathon officials and police experts are reviewing security plans.
The race route famously snakes through the Loop with thousands of spectators and runners below the city’s skyscrapers--raising extra concerns this year after the Las Vegas shooter opened fire from a high-rise building onto the crowd below.
“The route has remained the same for many years, so a lot of the security overlay that we have in place is applicable to this year also, so we’ll rely on the Chicago Police Department and their expertise – and their evaluation to where we are to make those adjustments,” Pinkowski said.
He said the race will draw one million spectators to downtown Chicago.
“A million people! That is a lot of people and being in a place with that many people is a little nerve wracking,” Darbyjack Gustafson, a Columbia College student, said.
Gustafson is deciding whether or not to attend in light of the Las Vegas massacre.
“It’s always in the back of my mind – it’s just happened so much in recent years – targeting big crowds and big events like the Boston Marathon and things like that, you just have to be very cautious,” Gustafson said.
“It’s scary because you want to go, but you have to think about if something like that could happen to you,” Tiana Peters said.
Chicago police and the Office of Emergency Management and Communication will be monitoring other major events – like the Cubs playoff games at Wrigley Field On Tuesday and Wednesday.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said so far this year, the city has conducted six large-scale “active shooter” training events at the city’s stadiums, parks and other major venues.
“The city is prepared and is doing its work but that being said we don’t want to lose sight of what I opened up with – which is what you see what you see on the news and you read about it, you get a real sense for the individuals and their loved ones and also the courageous and selfless acts not just by 1st responders but by regular citizens,” the mayor said.
The Chicago Marathon generates more than 280 million dollars each year for the Chicago economy.
There has never been a major security incident in the event’s 40-year history.