Another horrifying mass killing occurred Sunday, November 5th at a church taking the lives of 26 people, including children, while they worshiped at the First Baptist Church in Southerland Springs, TX. The shooter, 26-year-old Devin Kelley, a dishonorably discharged Air Force servicemember with a history of violence against his family members and animals, entered the church and began randomly shooting. It is speculated that the murders were not religiously motivated but due to his wife and family being regular parishioners at the church. Nearby residents opened fire on the shooter and took chase when he ran out and left in his waiting SUV. After being shot by the armed citizen Kelley called his father during the chase to exclaim that he did not believe he “would make it”. After crashing his vehicle, he shot and killed himself.
What do you do when a killer enters a church, movie theater or other venue where everyone is lined up in a constricted area and you can only move quickly right or left, where others are standing, sitting, or laying on the floor, or over the seats in front and behind you? How do you protect your loved ones next to you when a madman is shooting rapidly into your area and the crowd around you? When you are staring into the eyes of a deranged person who’s only goal is to kill as many people they can in as short a time as possible, what can you do to survive?
If you don’t have your own weapon to even the odds of survival, your next immediate actions may determine your fate, but everyone must act as a team, using the same or similar training to take down and neutralize the assailant. And where you are in relation to the killer is key to your survival, based on the action taken by you and those around you. When faced with this situation, you must stay A.L.I.V.E.
When a gunman opens fire in a crowded area, people will be injured and/or killed. The body count will depend on how and how quickly the intended victims react. In that split second when your brain acknowledges what is happening it must assess the situation in an instant and decide, based on where the gunman is and your available options, what to do next; leave, take cover or fight.
If you are near an exit and can escape with your loved ones without drawing fire from the shooter, stay low and run as fast and as far away from the incident as possible, not stopping until you are too far away to harm, calling 911 as soon as it is safe to do so.
If you are in an area of the venue where you can be hidden or take cover behind something solid, or even step into a side room where you can lock and/or block the door, do it immediately leaving your belongings behind. If you can only drop to the ground hoping the pews and/or seats between you and the gunman will stop or even just slow down bullets, do so until the people nearest the shooter can take him down.
Whomever is closest to the shooter must act aggressively and with the intent to kill. If a gunman is pointing his/her weapon to their left, the person(s) closest to him on his right must attack with all their might. Or if you are not immediately close to the shooter but he runs out of ammunition and must reload, if you believe you can get to him before he completes his reload, do whatever it takes, with anything available to make it impossible to continue firing. You must commit an act of unwavering violence on the assailant with the knowledge that if you do not kill the gunman, you yourself and the people you love will be killed.
Once the shooting has stopped, expose your position carefully. The gunman may have moved on, was disarmed or disabled or, is simply reloading or was injured but still a threat. There will be chaos, people screaming and crying creating confusion all around you. You may expose yourself too early and still be in danger or law enforcement may have arrived and you could startle them, appearing to be a threat, ending in you being shot accidentally.
Having a Security Mindset prior to, and a Survival Mindset once such an event begins is key to increasing your chances of survival. Being situationally aware such as taking note of exits and barrier to use as cover, and sitting or standing near them when possible should always be considered.
We cannot stop living our lives because of the continued heinous acts of evil people and we cannot always stop bad things from happening, but we can be prepared when they do.