Citizens receive Active Shooter Safety Training

By David Taylor
Managing Editor

EAST HARRIS COUNTY – More than 50 citizens and business leaders assembled at the San Jacinto Community Center in Highlands last month to gain insight in how to protect themselves in the event they find themselves amid a mass attack or by an Active Shooter.

While it’s easy to say it could never happen here, that was also the same mindset for many others that have gained national attention over the last decade.

The training was offered by Sgt. Louis Hooper with Pct. 4 Constable Mark Herman’s office and Sgt. Landon McDonald with Pct. 3 Constable Sherman Eagleton’s office.

Several of the officers in both constable’s offices are promoting the training around their precincts after the Uvalde shooting caught the attention of the nation and teaching on how to survive has changed since the Santa Fe High School shooting.

“I go as often as I’m scheduled and happy to make a presentation to any business, organization, or church as requested,” Hooper said.

The training is required now for every peace officer in the state through the Texas State University ALERRT Center—Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training.

McDonald said the former acronym of Run, Hide, Fight has changed to Avoid, Deny, Defend or (ADD) and was developed by ALERRT in 2004 and offered a strategy to victims a proven plan for surviving an active shooter event.

“That Run, Hide, Fight slogan has changed now,” he told the audience. “The new training is Avoid, Deny, Defend and makes more sense in survival,” he said.

Throughout the night, the team provided background history and prevalence statistics of active shooter events, explained some of the positive and negative civilian response options, and the need for planning ahead when visiting a place citizens have never been before.

“Most of the time, the attacker generally has no profile,” McDonald said.

Many, he told the audience, have an Avenger type mindset. In other words, a person seeking revenge for an offense or wrong done to them or their people; often taking it out on an innocent group of people in revenge for someone else.

“Their risk factors include a history of violence, exposure to violence, substance abuse or dependence, mental illness, and a history of suicidology,” Hooper explained.

He also said they may also have a history of stalking, harassing, or threatening behavior, negative family dynamics and support system, isolation or instability, where others are concerned.

The numbers are daunting. The latest FBI numbers show 520 mass shooting incidents in the last year that numbers were reported. To qualify as a mass shooting event, more than three have to be killed, according to Hooper.

More than 47 percent of the attacks occur at a business, while 24 percent are outdoors, 13 percent at schools, and about 14 percent qualify under ‘other’.

At least 61 percent of the time, there is no connection to the attacker versus his victims.

The team listed three different stages of disaster response.

“Denial is when you hear gunshots but pass it off as fireworks or a car backfiring,” Hooper said. “You’re not going to always hear fireworks in the offseason and cars don’t have a rapid backfire. If you hear it, go to the next step which is deliberation.”

In deliberation, McDonald asked citizens to remain calm and assess their surroundings.

“A lot of times, when you hear gunfire like in a mall, you want to start running but are you running away from the threat or into it? Just that short second of calming yourself and listening and observing might save your life,” he reminded the crowd.

He also asked that everyone script and practice how they’re going to get out of a situation.

“Thinking ahead can provide you an out or at least a better chance of survival,” he said.

In one of the club fires where there was a mass casualty event, 31 people died in the entrance to the club because everyone was trying to get out of the same exit instead of observing and leaving through others.

“When you walk into a place of business, always observe where the exits are and know in your mind how you’re going to get to them in a hurry to escape the threat,” he said. One of the mantras of most cops is never to sit with their back to the entrance.

A decisive moment is when you have to make a life-altering decision.

“Sometimes you may have to fight,” they said. Put yourself in a position where you have the best chance to survive.

At Virginia Tech, some of the students lay on the ground pretending to be dead before the shooter even walked into the room. The shooter saw them, shot them in the back and killed them. Eleven students died in that one room alone.

In a room next door, the professor and a student held the door while the other students escaped out the window. No students died in that room.

“That old mantra, ‘if you see something, say something’ is still important. Call law enforcement. We can check it out and if it’s nothing, we go back to patrolling,” Hooper said.

When law enforcement arrives, follow commands, show them the palms of your hands above your head, and don’t move.

McDonald and Hooper invited the community to call them if they wanted a training class at their business, school, or church.

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