How To Handle An Active Shooter Situation // This Post COULD Save Your Life

Thursday, July 31, 2014

A few weeks ago I attended an Active Shooter training class and I found it so informative and mind-blowing that I wanted to ensure everyone can get the great information I got. 

An active shooter is defined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as "an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearm[s] and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims."

When it comes to an active shooter:
You HAVE to Understand Him to Survive Him

So with that being said, there are 5 stages of an Active Shooter.

[Stage 1: Fantasy Stage]
-Fantasizes about headline news coverage
-Wants to break the death count
-Individual may draw pictures or write descriptions of what he fantasizes about.
(( If fantasies are passed on to law enforcement they CAN intervene.))

[Stage 2: Planning Stage]
-Suspect is still an active shooter
-Determines who, what, when, where
-Decides how they will travel
-Chooses an outfit
-Plans how to conceal weapons
-Looks for a location and time that can get them the most # of victims (Remember the Aurora theatre shooting?  The suspect chose that location because he knew it would be a full theatre.  Theatre seats are small, therefor it's impossible for every person to duck and protect themselves completely.) 
((If law enforcement is tipped off an intervention can be made.))

[Stage 3: Preparation Stage]
-Suspect may be obtaining weapons, gun powder, chemicals
-Practice runs can be made (We are creatures of habit - we sit in the same seats, drive the same roads, and stick to the same schedule.  Suspects can use this against us.)
-Robberies can be committed to illegally obtain items to use for their final plan
-Often, people are warned by the suspect at this time to not report to work on a certain date or not be in a certain place

[Stage 4: Approach Stage]
-DANGEROUS Stage where suspect is committed to following through
-Often there is nothing we can do to stop them from going through with their plan
-Suspect approaches target with the tools for his massacre
-This is the LAST DAY on Earth for suspect in his mind
-If law enforcement approaches a suspect for any reason at this time, he may think they know his plan and become super paranoid
-The closer the time to the event comes, the more dangerous they are
((Remember Jared Loughner?  He was approached by law enforcement the day he planned to shoot Gaby Gifford but he was a person who kept his cool and still ended up following through with his grand plan.))

[Stage 5: Implementation Stage]
-Once the suspect opens fire, immediate action MUST be taken
-If he is not stopped he WILL kill until his is out of victims
-In this stage AS SOON AS someone effectively intervenes through an act of courage the death count comes down

An important thing to keep in mind:
RISK - There is a risk in doing something but the greatest risk lies in doing nothing. 
We WILL come back to this. 

What have we learned from past Active Shooter situations? 

(-)Meet Russell Weston, a man who shot and killed two officers at the United States Capitol.  If you watch the video below you will soon realize he makes absolutely no sense to someone like you and I.

It's safe to say he was very mentally unstable.

DON'T THINK FOR ONE SECOND THAT THERE AREN'T PEOPLE LIKE RUSSELL WESTON ROAMING THE STREETS. They are everywhere and anywhere. People like Russell are paranoid and everything in their head is REAL to them. 

(-)Remember Columbine?   How can you ever forget that tragedy, but one huge thing that was taken away from that is that some lives MAY HAVE been saved if the first responding officers had entered the school rather than waiting for the special response teams.
Ever since Columbine, active shooter training classes have started nationwide. Up till then, law enforcement was told that if they can't handle a situation they should wait for the SWAT Team.

And with the saying "The worst opponent you can go against is a guy who doesn't care if he dies" in mind, law enforcement now are issues semi-automatic handguns as well as assault rifles so that in the case of a Columbine type attack, they are better equipped to immediately make contact with the active shooter.
(-)If you are from PA you probably remember the West Nickel Mines School tragedy, where the shooter was actually known very well by the community. 

This shows you that an active shooter can not only be a stranger but can also be someone that you know.  Also, while many active shooters plan their massacres, there are also last minute active shooters that may be triggered by a job loss and come back to the office the next day for revenge.   While many of the situations we've discussed so far were planned out well in advance, the spur the moment massacres are just as dangerous.

(-)Viriginia Tech
In the Virginia Tech tragedy, the suspect studied Norris Hall for months and months.  He learned that there was a 10 minute window when there was NO ONE in the hallways.  He also knew there were 3 exits.

What he did was utilize the 10 minute window to chain the 3 exit doors so literally NO ONE could escape. He even went as far as to put a sign on the doors that said if the doors were opened the building will explode.  This bought him more time to act out his massacre.


Things to remember during Threat Assessment:
- If you suspect something is wrong, report it.   Some killers have a profile as a loner, have problems with authority, and feel that they are owed something.
-TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. Kristina Anderson for some reason decided to wear sneakers instead of her usual sandals on the day of the Virginia Tech Massacre and that may have been what saved her when she was shot in the foot.  Sometimes we do things simply because we have a "feeling".  Never question your gut, and remember that your instincts may be what help you through a situation later on.
-Look for a triggering event.  Sometimes people are fired, reprimanded, or have a terrible event happen in their life that can trigger them to become an Active Shooter.


These next 3 items could save your life.   Read them, remember them, and practice them.   No, it's not terrible to mentally play out these scenarios at the movie theatre, grocery store, or work... it's smart and you're helping yourself become more prepared in the event that an Active Shooter situation event occurs.

[]If there is an accessible escape path USE it. 
[]Have an escape route in mind.
[]Evacuate REGARDLESS of whether others agree to follow.  
[]Leave your belongings behind.
[]Help others escape along the way if you can.
[]Keep your hands visible incase a member of law enforcement approaches you at any time. 
[]Follow law enforcement instructions.
[]On your way out, prevent others from entering the area where the active shooter is.
[]Call 911 when you are safely able to do so.
[]DO NOT Attempt to move injured victims.

An Active Shooter won't waste time on something if it won't get him what he wants.  Hiding out is a method of survival in the event that you can't evacuate safely.

[]Find a spot where you will be out of the shooter's view.
[]Provide protection for yourself from bullets or weapons.
[]Barricade yourself into a safe room.
[]Place large objects in front of doors.
[]Lock all doors.
[]If someone is screaming in the room you are in, try to keep them quiet. 
[]Remain CALM.
[]If you have your cell phone, turn the ringer and vibrate feature OFF.
[]Call 911, Make sure speaker phone is OFF.
[]If you can't speak it's okay to let the 911 operator hear everything that's going on, sometimes it can help them figure out where you are and what's going on.

There are scenarios where you can not run and can no longer hide and you may come face to face with the Active Shooter. As a last resort you may have to fight back.

[]Attempt to disrupt or incapacitate the shooter.
[]Act as aggressive as possible.
[]Throw things and improvise weapons. (Ladies you know your stiletto heel can pierce an eyeball right? )
[] Yell and scream.
[]Commit to your actions; if you are going to fight, fight for your damn life.
[]If you're shot, KEEP FIGHTING! You are not dead!
[]Remember what you are living for.  If you want to get home to your babies...keep that reason in your head.  Tell yourself I'M MAKING IT HOME TONIGHT.
[]Your will to live will take over.
[]Do you want to be a victim or a survivor?
[]If you are shot play dead!  This is still a method of fighting back.  Remember what I said earlier, that if you've been shot, and the Active Shooter thinks you're dead, he won't waste anymore time on you, and will move on to find more victims. 

When Law Enforcement Arrives:
[]Drop all items.
[]Raise your hands and spread your fingers.
[]Avoid quick jerky movements.
[]Don't stop for help or directions from them, keep moving!
[]Avoid pointing or yelling.
[]Law Enforcement can't stop to help the injured, but the wave of EMS First Responders behind them can.
[]First on scene in Law Enforcement are to go to the active shooter.

If You Call 911:
[]Describe the shooter.
[]Describe the location.
[]Give an estimated # and location of possible victims.
[]Describe number and apeparance of any weapons.


Please consider taking a free class or seminar to learn about how to protect yourself in a situation like this.   I attended a training and I couldn't believe how interesting and educational it was. 

One option I know of is Daniel Minor who goes around to non-profit organizations, churches, businesses that want to educate their employees, and crime prevention organizations to educate everyone on what to do to save your life.   You can find his Facebook Page here.
Disclaimers: These are just my tips to help you.  To be better prepared, I highly recommend reading up on Active Shooter trainings in your area.  Also, the Active Shooter was referred to in my post as a "He" only to make it easier for you to read.   While about 95% of all Active Shooter cases are male, an Active Shooter can still be a female.

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