Crystal business focuses on suppressing the threat

Oliver Nichols, chemistry consultant, and Crotega founder Jody Allen Crowe in the test area for the suppression system at the business in Crystal. (Sun  Photo by Raymond T. Rivard)

Dayton, Ohio; Odessa, Texas; Midland, Texas; El Paso, Texas; Virginia Beach – these some of the places where mass shootings have happened this year in the United States.

According to, “The number of mass shootings across the U.S. thus far in 2019 has outpaced the number of days this year.”

That report stated, “as of Sept. 1, which was the 244th day of the year, there have been 283 mass shootings in the United States.”

Those statistics and the ongoing issue of violence, not just with guns, but with all types of weapons, is something that hit home a long time ago with Jody Allen Crowe, a former school administrator who has taken active steps to change the trend.

“I was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, and in 1966, in my hometown when I was in fifth grade, a kid by the name of David Black brought a gun into school and shot another kid and killed the school administrator, Forrest L. Willey,” he remembered.

When Crowe graduated in 1974, he received the Forrest L. Willey Award. “I really didn’t realize how that was going to be part of my story,” he added.

Crowe went on to become a school administrator in Minnesota and Idaho.

He knew that, as an administrator, it was his job to step up and take a bullet if a similar situation happened at his school.

Crowe started studying the profiles of shooters and discovered a correlation between those involved as shooters and those who also presented the symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome.

While he gained national and international attention for his studies, shootings continued.

When the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School shocked the nation, “... I knew that if I was a principal in that building, I would have done the same thing ... I would have stepped out to protect my kids just like in-house responders do all over,” he said. “And they get killed because there’s nothing inside of buildings to protect those inside the building. And that’s when I decided that I needed to do something. I had an idea and I needed to do something. So Sandy Hook was the genesis of the idea.”

That idea has grown into Crotega, an interior control active assailant suppression system. The business is at 5448 Douglas Drive in Crystal.

The system is simple. Operated like a fire sprinkler system, the suppression system is installed in the ceiling at strategic locations in a structure. When remotely activated, the system will spray a water-based chemical within the area that deters, disrupts and delays the person looking to harm others. The system sprays a chemical like pepper spray, temporarily leaving the person incapacitated, unable to see and vulnerable to capture.

“I tell people, imagine getting a gallon of vinegar dumped over your head. It sounds scary that it’s a chemical, but it’s really a water-based irritant,” he said.

The chemical gets into a person’s eyes and mouth and stings the skin. Crowe said that with a simple rinse of water, the irritant chemical washes away and the person returns to normal.

Crowe said convincing the right people to believe in and install the suppression system has been a challenge.

“Nobody wants to be the first to install it,” Crowe said.

With a base of investors and support, the system is beginning to become known around the area and that knowledge is spreading to other areas of the country.

After two years in development, Crowe said the tests conducted have been successful and convincing.

It’s a matter of convincing school, church business and government officials of the value of the system, as well as having standards and codes written that will provide the platform for such systems to be installed in existing and new construction.

Crowe said that, as of last week, the first customer – a charter school – had approved the installation of a system.

The business has a team of 20 that he can call in to fill orders. To start, Crotega will install the first systems, but as more work becomes available, hiring an installer would be the next step.

Ultimately, his goal is to work with the state legislature to require the installation of interior threat control systems into any new construction of schools, churches, government buildings, casinos and the like.

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