Man with Gun and Gun Battle
ME: Ok Chris, the criminal with a gun has been located and gun fire is being exchanged between the civilian and the criminal. Now the police come inside and encounter us both. What should I expect?
Chris: Quite frankly, the civilian involved in the gunfire should expect to get shot if that’s what LE sees upon entering. Unfortunate, but true. If we are being honest, when LE shows up and you have a visible firearm, and you are clearly pulling the trigger, we are going to eliminate the perceived “threat”.
ME: (with a half-smile) I hope the LEO is not you (Chris is a very good shot. He was one of the SWAT snipers and has proved his abilities through training and real-life incidents).
ME: Alright, you have your gun drawn and are just standing over the criminal you have shot, when the police round the corner. Again, should we expect to be shot?
Chris: Yes. Unless, at that point, you can drop the gun as quickly as possible, keeping your hands clearly visible, while announcing “not a threat”. Visible hands and compliance are so important. What LE looks for is your hands, your hands, your hands. Because, hands kill people. Guns don’t shoot people, knives don’t stab people, and other weapons don’t harm people. People shoot people, people stab people and people harm people and they use their hands. The other things are inanimate objects simply possessed in the hands of those seeking to use them. Good or bad ways.
So when we enter in a room and encounter you, we are going to look at your hands, your waistband/immediate reach and your compliance. So if we see no threat in your hands we are going to check your surroundings and see if you have quick accessibility to a threat. If you are standing over the criminal and you have just shot that male/female and they are dead, secure your firearm when you realize we are moving up and then stand there in compliance with your hands clear, visible and away from your waist.
ME: What if the threat is not dead but shot and just lying on the ground? Still has his gun.
Chris: At that point you will want to do the best you can to announce to us that you have the threat and you are not going to turn toward LE. So essentially you are standing there, you are above the criminal and you hear the police enter in from the hallway. You are going to stand there and you are going to yell, “I am in here with the threat. I am not a threat, I am not a threat, I am not a threat.”
You have to remember, we are going to have some audible exclusions, as well. We are going to have an adrenaline dump. We are going to have some tunnel vision. So we need you to loudly and slowly repeat yourself because when we come in, we need to know you are not going to pull the trigger, that you do have a gun, but that you are not going to make evasive moves towards us. If the person is still too much of a threat then at least attempt to hold the firearm away from us, even if you are extended out but you push away so we can see you. You need to help us know that you’re not the threat. You’ll be giving yourself the best chance for survival when we enter if you do this, but remember, our mindset is going to be the shots we just heard fired, the body we see on the ground (criminal subject) and the person with a gun standing in front of us. We don’t have a crystal ball that can tell of the unknown information and we know that if you’re not a good guy, then you’re a threat. We have split seconds to decipher this and act accordingly. We are human too.
ME: Twist in the scenario: The person who is on the ground, that you have shot, is not dead and is still holding the gun; what would you suggest? What should we do? I guess we are still covering him, do we shoot him again?
Chris: You must protect others, then yourself – in that order. Are police on scene that you’re aware of?
ME: No, Not yet.
Chris: If there is a deadly threat, then you shoot to kill. The pulling of your trigger has constituted the use of deadly force, and that is what you should expect to accomplish.
Chris: As a civilian, and as a LEO, if you pull the trigger, the only expectation is that someone dies. It is unfortunate, but we don’t shoot to wound and if there is a threat and they still have the firearm they could still potentially kill people. The decision made by a criminal to enter an area, terrorize innocent victims and potentially murder people is a wicked and horrific one. We should never feel bad by stopping that poor choice and saving innocent and defenseless people from victimization of evil hands.
ME: Ok, the crisis is over, you may or may not have shot the threat. The good news is the police haven’t shot you, what can we expect to happen from the policemen?
Chris: LE is going to take you into custody, you may get handcuffed, you are most likely going to get escorted out by two officers and you will get separated from the scene.
ME: I guess they have my gun?
Chris: Yes. The gun will be secured at that point. We are going to temporarily detain you in many cases and escort you to a safe haven as said before. It is not because you have done anything wrong and in fact, you did everything right. Think about it, you are still alive, the threat has been eliminated and you have saved lives…that is phenomenal. But as LE what we know that you are about to go through emotional meltdown most likely and that’s to be expected. The adrenalin will lower in your body. You are about to feel different because you are about to react to everything you just saw and everything you just did. It is not because we feel threatened by you. It is because we need to get you mentally and medically evaluated, calmed down and refreshed. The handcuffs are going to come off – if they were on – and we are going to start mildly discussing the incident with you.
All this with you, and we still have a lot to do. We need to finish clearing buildings, we need to finish checking for other victims. Are there more people who were harmed, do we have everything secured, what was the reasoning, are there more scenes – like the threats home and so forth. The conversations we will have with you immediately afterward is to accomplish those goals, not to “interrogate” you as some perceive.
ME: What would you suggest that we say? Police will ask us questions, what do you suggest that would be helpful to you?
Chris: Say nothing more than what you absolutely have to say for pertinent information until you can fully calm down. Even ask for legal representation if you’d like. Calming down for some people is thirty minutes to an hour. For other people it is two or three days. Don’t be ashamed to ask for time or help.
So here is what I would recommend further: When you are outside with me- if I am the deputy who escorted you out – I am going to be asking you a bunch of questions. I want information to know if there are more threats and how did this occur, as explained above. Be short, sweet, to the point…that’s it. Don’t talk too much. We want to know the immediate, pertinent information.
It is proven, people under pressure and under duress will unintentionally say things that are not completely accurate. This is based on their “perception” of what occurred during high intensity pressure. Sometimes details can be unintentionally misconstrued until your body is back in a normal state. Once that occurs, your mind begins to reflect on facts rather than the “fight” mode you were in as you pushed forward.
ME: The police are still trying to understand what is going on, regardless how they feel or what they think about us. Will we be treated professionally? Should we expect that from all departments?
Chris: You should always expect to be treated professionally and respectfully from LE.
ME: I know you need information, you made that clear, in order to help you and keep the place safe but should we expect policemen to try and trap us or at this point are they still fact finding?
Chris: It is going to be fact finding with us. Remember, we are human beings too and even possibly have children who attend the school you just protected. Sometimes people think we are robots, created in a government factory, but we are not. We are spouses, parents and even children of people who live in the same community as you. You should expect to be honored for your heroic decision.
We have no reason to try and back you into a corner or anything like that. You have to remember, at the end of the day we are supportive of people who help eliminate threats. We support good people with firearms and we are a team with our community.
See you at the range