Interview with Clay County Sheriff Deputy Chris Padgett
Entering the Building…shots fired!
ME: Chris, we are on the school grounds but now we hear gunshots.
Chris: Ok, people will be running out of the school while you are observing them. Someone tells you there is a man inside with a firearm. You immediately dial 911 and tell dispatch of the situation that is unfolding and explained to them what you are wearing and what your intent is and you retrieve your firearm from inside your vehicle. Your firearm is still secure and it is covered. You are moving up to the building and as you are approaching you hear shots fired from inside. Now your slow methodical information gathering approach is over with; now it is time to move. So we go from a deliberate style entry to a dynamic style entry. The average civilian is not trained for that. There are still people running out, still people screaming, mass chaos everywhere; you are trying to push to the threat as people are running you over, bumping into you and knocking you down potentially. They don’t know that you are a good guy, you look like them and you may look like the threat most likely. The scary part of this is once you decide to pull your firearm out these people don’t necessarily know that you are not with the bad guy.
ME: So, the only reason we would now present our gun is that we have heard gunfire.
Chris: At the point of hearing gun fire you potentially are in a situation that you have no choice but to pull out your firearm and to be prepared to pull the trigger.
ME: So, if we are just told there is a man with a gun would we stay concealed or if, once we have entered the building, would you suggest we draw our weapon?
Chris: As a civilian, once you have made the decision to close the gap between you and the threat and you have pushed up, and you have now heard shots being fired, you pretty much don’t have a choice but to pull your firearm.
ME: What if you haven’t heard shots fired?
Chris: At that point I am still going to stay concealed and I am going to try and move forward the best I can as a civilian and gather information until the crowd has dispersed and the hallways have emptied and there is no one else around, then I will remove my firearm in a safe manner and still keep it concealed on my person, maybe keeping the gun on the side next to my body, slightly behind my back, as I push forward while I try to determine what is going on. What you have to think about is what if there is a teacher who has gone through active shooter training, they have heard that there is a bad guy inside, they have barricaded in and they have a fire extinguisher or they have a pair of scissors or they have some other improv weapon that they are waiting to take a threat out with. Remember, we are not the only warriors here. Warriors can be teenagers, children, moms and dads and grandparents. So if you are proceeding with your firearm in open view, and that teacher sees you as a threat, there is a potential that that teacher could stab you with a pair of scissors or knock you in the head with the fire extinguisher. You could be sliced open or knocked out and now you are no good and that person thinks they have done a good deed, perceiving you as a threat yourself.
ME: What about the men who may carry a rifle in their truck, you can’t conceal that. You use a rifle if you are going to fight, you don’t use a pistol so what would you suggest to those people; take it, just leave it? Just take their concealed handgun or take the rifle?
Chris: A rifle is going to be a more practical and accurate tool to utilize in this situation, however it is also going to jeopardize you moving forward as a civilian. It is a decision someone would have to make on scene moving up to the incident.
ME: As a dad, as a policeman, if you had more firepower in the back of your truck, as it relates to where we are now, would you want that private citizen to use the rifle or stay concealed and stay less and go in with his concealed pistol?
Chris: As a father, if there is an active shooter in my child’s school, I want someone to go address the threat. Waiting on law enforcement is not always sufficient or practical. Here is why: LE is coming, we will be there in a hurry, but, the one or two minutes that you can close the gap between the bad guy and the victims may save dozens of lives.
ME: I read an article that said the majority of these shootings were over in three minutes. So if we are not there in three minutes…
ME: So, you are leaving it, with rifles, for people to use their best judgment as to what they should do?
Chris: Close quarters combat doesn’t necessarily negate a rifle. Schools have long hallways, that is where rifles are beneficial. They have big rooms that you may have to shoot across and rifles are more beneficial. However, they also have small corners and small classrooms and areas like closets where a pistol is much more practical. So it is a tough decision and a decision based on information we may or may not have; is he in the gymnasium where the rifle will be more beneficial or was it coming from a classroom down a narrow hallway where there are a bunch of other smaller classrooms, a pistol would be more sufficient.
Either way, entering into this type of situation is dangerous with decisions being made in your mind, in the matter of seconds. Not only do you have to consider overwhelming barage of people coming at you, the overwhelming emotional distress you will be functioning through and the overwhelming dangers you will be facing, you must also consider that to the arriving police officers, you will appear to be the criminal. We don’t have a crystal ball, that reveals to us unforeseen knowledge. Just understand, that moving into the school could be a sacrificial decision, but one worth making, in my opinion.
Part 3…in our next post…
See you at the range