Posts Tagged ‘Armed Gunman’

I want to first say that my thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and families of the Aurora, Colorado shooting.

The news is filled with stories of the shooting, the victims, and the gunman.  One comment made by the media was about how Columbine forever changed the way we react to armed shooters.  Much like 9/11 changed the way airlines respond to hijackers.

I was working for General Motors Acceptance Corp. (GMAC) in California in 1990 when a branch office in Jacksonville, Florida was the scene of a massacre.  James Edward Pough walked into a large office of 85 employees and opened fire, killing eight, before turning the gun on himself.  Survivors talked about the victims who tried to hide under their desks, only to be killed by the gunman who went from desk to desk, shooting them one by one.

I work on a college campus, and after the Virginia Tech attack by Seung-Hui Cho, campus police put together a workshop about what to do if an armed gunman was loose on campus.  The first thing they said was “if you think you hear gunfire, then it is very likely that what you’re hearing is gunfire.”  Do not run outside to investigate.  Barricade yourself in a room (preferably one without windows) and stay there until law enforcement arrives and gives the all-clear.  The officers conducting the workshop explained that a shooter, or shooters, are out to kill as many people as they can as quickly as they can.  They will generally fire into a room, but will more likely move on to easier targets, rather than taking the time to break in.

As we walked into the workshop, we were all handed ping-pong balls.  Later, as part of a simulation exercise, we were told that one of the officers was going to come through the door with his arms up as if holding a weapon.  We were told to throw the ping-pong balls at him the second he opened the door.  His reaction was to raise his hands to cover his face.  Obviously, this would not have worked in the Aurora situation, but I believe preparation for whatever situation you find yourself in is helpful.

The workshop also included a video of actual footage from the Columbine massacre.  It showed the killers firing their weapons, not the actual killing of victims.  But it was still very chilling in spite of that.  At one point you see the two shooters spraying bullets and then pausing to yell at someone to “stop!”  And you hear the voice of the would-be victim yelling back “F**k you!”  That student survived.

I know I’m better prepared for having attended the workshop.   I hope that none of us ever have to make that kind of split-second decision, but I’m glad to be able to share these possible life-saving measures.

Take care.