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Below are actual stories where law abiding citizen used their weapon in a responsible way.
Training our tactical teams and the law enforcement community to the next level today; to meet the challenges and increased threats of tomorrow.
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
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
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