This week our world once again suffered senseless attacks on innocent victims. This time the victims were school children at their schools, and they were attacked by a classmate. Activity that unfortunately has been ongoing now for more than 20 years.
But what was different about this week’s attacks was how the staff and students in these schools had been prepared to respond should they befall victim to a person intent on hurting them. This difference in preparation led to a big difference in outcomes.
In watching this video from a High School in Monterrey Mexico on Jan 18, 2017, you see the student seated against the wall on the left, pull the handgun out and shoot towards the teacher. However, he hits a student between the shooter and the teacher first. This student falls out of the chair to the floor. The shooter fires again, hitting the teacher who also falls to the floor. He then rapidly and randomly shoots at other students who have either remained seated in their chairs, or who have gone to the floor in an attempt to hide. Not one student attempted to make a rapid exit of the room. The shooter fires a few more times, hitting 2 more students.
The shooter then attempts to shoot himself in the head but soon realizes he has run out of bullets it seems. As he goes back to his desk, assumingly to reload, one student who is near the exit door, moves to a location further in the room and sits down. After a few seconds, this student realizes the opportunity to evacuate, gets back up and leaves the room. The shooter then with his gun reloaded, shoots and kills himself. It is only then that those who are capable leave the room. The whole event lasts less than a minute. (To date, all 4 victims remain alive albeit in critical condition. Three victims reportedly suffered head wounds, with one receiving a wound to the arm. We can be thankful to some degree that the shooter used a .22 caliber pistol, a small caliber causing less internal damage.)
We are fortunate that the shooter did not decide to shooter more people. Once he had reloaded his weapon he could have easily shot more because we do not see anyone engaging in any activity that would make themselves a harder target and/or require a higher skill set to hurt them. They are static and passive throughout the event- other than going to the floor. Their actions actually make them an easier target. This is not their fault. This is the result of inadequate preparation. Now some would say: “Well, kids can’t be expected to do anything in this situation. That is just very unrealistic.” We beg to differ.
For over 15 years, ATI has been training organizations and people in Pro-Active, Options-Based response protocols called ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate). Specifically, if contact is made (as was in the above event), people of all ages are trained to the limit of their age- and physical-capability in Counter strategies. We do not teach any fighting strategies. Counter strategies consist of the simple actions of Noise, Movement, Distance, and Distractions in order to make the intended targets much more difficult, and require a much higher skill set on behalf of the shooter. We also teach when appropriate and applicable, by using overwhelming numbers potential victims can take back Control of the situation.
Some would say: “Sure… right… you’re crazy!” Nope.
The second event of the week occurred on Friday, Jan 20, 2017 at West Liberty High School Ohio. This involved people of the same ages and capabilities of those in the Mexico event. However, per School District Superintendent, Kraig Hissong, the school staff had received ALICE training, conducted almost 2 years ago, by the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office. In this interview, Hissong describes what happened early at the start of the school day, and how the school’s ALICE training was put to use by both Staff and Students.
Hissong describes that when confronted by a student wielding a shotgun and shooting, students took off running (Movement), got into rooms and used any items they could find to barricade the doors (another ALICE concept – Enhanced Lockdown). While some students worked on barricading doors, others broke out windows (ALICE training tactic) to Evacuate. There are no reports of any of these students suffering any injuries while making their way out of the danger area and to safety.
While students were engaged in Barricading and Evacuating, staff around the shooter used their numbers superiority to overwhelm the shooter, and pinned him to the floor using body weight and gravity to their advantage (ALICE Counter and Control strategies). There are no reported injuries to any of these brave staff members. Law Enforcement arrived 5 minutes after the event started to find that staff had ended the event and had the shooter subdued and under control.
Two events, two days apart, approximately same age shooter, same age range of victims, and most victims and shooter were peers. Yet outcomes were very different. One ended with the shooter dead, 3 victims in very critical condition and one other wounded. The other ended with one victim critically wounded. By the students removing themselves from the danger area and the staff taking Control of the situation, not only were innocent lives saved, but surely the life of the shooter was saved as well. Statistically he would have attempted suicide. Of if still shooting upon police arrival, he would have been engaged by law enforcement.
Both events lasted a very short time, less than a minute, and before a law enforcement response could occur. But this is normal. A 2015 FBI study found that 60% of Active Shooter events are over before the police can arrive to the scene.
Those who Evacuated the building away from the known threat did not encounter another threat. Again, this is normal. Since the Texas Tower shooting in 1966, Active Shooters have acted alone 98% of the time. Good reason to get out if possible.
Unarmed staff took Control of the armed perpetrator. Not unusual. In the last 15 years, about 15% of the successful stoppages of the shooter were effected by unarmed citizens per the FBI. Other researchers even put the number higher over a greater timeframe.
Counter strategies work. Proven. Period. And they work with no intent to harm the attacker. And they require no special skill set or tools to do them. Passive, static response must become a strategy of the past. Just like Women’s Self-Defense training, kids’ Stranger Danger training, and the expectation of airline passengers these days, citizens must understand they can survive the Active Shooter. ALICE makes training easy and comprehensive through the use of web-based training of concepts and strategies, and kinesthetic practice of skills. Readiness requires preparation. Preparation requires being trained. Trained requires practice.
ALICE Training Institute prays for the recovery of all the victims, and expresses extreme gratitude and pride for the staff, students and their Trainers who brought about the saving of lives this week.