Campus News

Campus Speaker: When a Shooter Appears

Within the past two months, there has been a gun on campus. A man in casual clothing walked from the parking garage to the bookstore and halfway back with a gun in his holster—yet only one person called security. Luckily, this man with a gun was an off-duty police officer buying books; but what if he was not?

In this instance, there was the potential for an active shooter being on campus, and if there was, would we know how to react? Andy Gershkowitz, Mike D’ambrosio, and Mark Vash of Saint Leo Campus Security and Safety held an event focusing on how to respond if an active shooting breaks out in a public place. The event Run, Hide, Fight took place on three consecutive Mondays, Oct. 6, 13, and 20 and the title outlines how every individual, student or faculty, should respond if there is an active shooter in the area: run if there is an opportunity, hide in a secure spot if not, and fight only if there is no other option. This article is a small snippet of what to do if a shooting happens in a public place and a summary of the seminar’s message.

The event began with Andy showing a PowerPoint on a school’s response to an active shooter. Andy said that he thought it would be smart to hold this seminar because of recent events. One of those events he was referring to was the shooting at Cobb Grove 16 Theater in Wesley Chapel, FL, where the cause of the dispute was over texting before the movie started.

Andy explained that this is a nation of violence and an active shooting can happen anywhere, especially since guns are so prevalent in today’s society. Although it may seem that active shootings are on the rise, it is highly unlikely to be caught up in one; nevertheless, it is still imperative to be prepared for the worst.

“In this situation the most important thing to have is a plan,” said Andy.

If a shooter is on campus, the University will make an announcement over the loudspeaker, and everyone will receive a text message and an e-mail. As soon as the warning is given, the initial step is to come to terms with the situation so you are able to act rationally; although the traditional lockdown taught in schools is a good strategy, it is argued that it limits the natural instinct to get away from the shooter. Students are taught to hide, even if the shooter is on the opposite side of the campus. It is important to trust instincts and be aware of your surroundings. When you walk into a room for the first time, make notice of where all the exits are. Communicate with the people around you, but do not let them hold you back with indifference and do not stay in a group if they are not listening.

There are three actions that can be executed when a shooting is happening. The first is to run to a safe place and get as far away from the shooting as you can. Use your knowledge of the layout of the University to get away or to find a secure hiding spot. If running is not an option or the shooter is nearby, then the second action is to hide. Find a secure place and lock the door, or make a barricade, then turn off all the lights. When you are secure, try calling the police and give as much information as you can. If your hiding spot is in the open and your surroundings are quiet, evaluate your escape route before leaving, then execute it. Do not leave your hiding spot if it is a secure place, because as soon as you leave the hiding spot, you have the potential of getting in the way of the police or running into the shooter.

When law enforcement is dispatched to the University, their primary objective is to stop the threat. They walk in a four-man, diamond-shaped squad with the man in the back walking backwards. This allows them to see all of their surroundings and be able to react. If you come in contact with the police, cooperate with them. They are unfamiliar with the campus and do not know who the shooter is outside of brief descriptions. Do not question them, and stay clear of them since they are heading towards the shooter. After the threat is neutralized, they will tend to the wounded along with the second set of responders.

The shooter also has a plan; they come in with an objective and may even have certain targets. If the shooter discovers your hiding spot, the last line of defense is to attack. This should be the final option available. Mike empathized that this is a literal fight for your life. Use the numbers in your groups to try and restrain the shooter. Confuse them by yelling and throwing things. Someone in the group should take charge. If he is restrained, do not let him get up and relieve him of the weapon. Do not handle the gun unless you know what you are doing. After the PowerPoint, Mike and Mark showed a video that showed the PowerPoint in action. The seminar ended with questions and Mark made up a fake scenario where shots had been fired. The first thing everyone did was pick up chairs and start towards the door to barricade it. For the audience, the seminar really put into perspective how to react if there was an active shooter on campus.

For more information, please visit the Lion’s Pride website to see the video shown during the presentation.

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