Police on site and man with a gun
ME: Ok, I am going to jump around a little bit. Now you have gone in and the police are now there but they haven’t found you yet, what should you do?
Chris: Once law enforcement arrives on scene; especially if you know law enforcement is on scene, they have probably already been there. Once you realize the cops are there they have probably been there for thirty or forty seconds, maybe a minute. You’re in a tough situation as a civilian now.
ME: You are going to be amped and in a place where something very bad could happen to you?
Chris: Not only are you going to have audible exclusion and tunnel vision, things of that nature and so forth, but law enforcement is pushing up somewhat covertly to enter the campus quietly without the threat knowing. Once you know that they are there they have probably closed a big gap to you. At that point we recommend putting away your firearm from visibility and putting yourself in a safe concealed position until they can come and find you.
ME: Chris, let’s assume you have your rifle or pistol and they spot you but you don’t see them. They see you are armed, what should we do and what should we expect?
Chris: (very matter of factly) You should expect to get shot. There are no if ands or buts about it. As a law enforcement officer, if I enter into an active shooter situation and I push in and see a person with a firearm who is moving forward, I am going to most likely shoot them if they are not clearly known to me as an officer. Fact of the matter is that LE has been told of an active shooter on a school campus, LE arrives, enters and then encounters a “gunman” proceeding toward potential victims. It’s not likely to go well for you, because imagine if it wasn’t you I encountered and I hesitate, giving a gunman time to murder more children and teachers. This is a school, you are seen with a gun and LE has to take action.
ME: What do you think the dispatcher may have told them, is there a chance the dispatcher could have told them or are we on the broad assumption any officer coming in may not know and the good guy is going to get fired upon?
Chris: You should always assume the officer coming in does not know you are there. Nor, would that officer remember your description even if he does know in most cases. Dispatch probably told us about you, but probably came at the start of the incident and way too much progresses in these cases. New info is being told by the second and it’s truly overwhelming. Humanly impossible to retain in many cases; therefore, LE has to prioritize information and retain hard facts. 1) Gunman 2) Location 3) Active or Not. That’s what I’m retaining, because in an active shooter situation we have one mission. Stop the threat from harming the innocent.
ME: Ok, so we have come upon the bad guy, he has not seen you, what should we do?
Chris: Is the bad guy armed?
ME: Let’s look at it both ways.
Chris: You enter into the building and you find a subject matching the description of the man said to have had a gun but you see no gun in his hand. I am going to draw down on him and give him loud verbal commands to comply to me and even as a civilian, if he is resistant, I am going to explain to him that he matches the description of an active shooter and to get down on the ground. I am going to continue to repeat and give loud, clear precise verbal commands; don’t talk too much. You put the gun on him and tell him to “get down on the ground and let me see your hands.” (loudly now) “Get down on the ground and let me see your hands!” “DOWN ON THE GROUND! HANDS!” I am going to say that verbiage repeatedly.
ME: What if he turns and runs.
Chris: At that point I am not going to run after him, because I have not seen a firearm, though I am going to pursue his direction, but still in a methodical type of manner. What I don’t want is him to look like he ran way down the hallway when he cut a corner and is waiting to ambush me.
ME: We are now talking about tactics, most won’t know what you are talking about.
Chris: Some civilians do, we do have prior military members, we do have people who have gone through training courses and have more than the average understanding of tactics.
ME: More than likely those are the people we are talking about now, don’t you think?
Chris: Sure, at that point we are. So, let’s just back up and let’s just say that it is your good wholesome mom, she has a firearm, she is very comfortable shooting a firearm and she heard there was a shooter inside and she went in. This isn’t just men, not just middle age people or young people, this could be anybody who has a warrior’s mentality and won’t evade confrontation. Say this woman goes in but has no training, military background or tactical awareness. At that point you are still going to stay methodical; you have not seen a gun and you don’t have active shooting. This bad guy ran off, you do not want to being moving so fast that you over penetrate or do something where now they can harm you.
Chris: Shots fired and seeing a firearm changes everything on these scenarios.
ME: We are back inside, no shots fired, but we have come across, unlike last time, a man with a gun. What should we do?
Chris: The man matches the description of the person we have been told is walking the hallways, if we have clear confirmation, based on the information we gathered moving up, that this person should not have a gun on school campus, I am taking shots.
ME: Would you order him, or say anything or would you fire on him?
Chris: As a civilian I am pushing up and I am taking shots.
Chris: I can explain why if you need it.
ME: Yes, please elaborate.
Chris: This is a school campus, we have victims and potential victims everywhere; thousands of them at a large school. Essentially, firearms are not allowed on school property usually. You have school resource officers, school safety officers, guardians and ones who would have firearms. These are the people who should be clearly identifiable on the campus and they are not going to be the ones school students, faculty and staff get scared over having a gun, right? So, If a person has already made an illegal decision to enter the campus, to pull out a firearm and then walk the hallways terrorizing people, he has given enough thought and action to this that a reasonable, prudent person would perceive him as a deadly threat and as a civilian I am pushing to him and I will take shots on him.
ME: You are in the hallway and you hear gun fire in a classroom?
Chris: At that point I am entering the classroom, quickly. I am going to be like a stick of dynamite. I am going to be explosive and fast and ready to take a shot.
Part 4 …in our next post… “Man with a Gun”
See you at the range