Less than a month after the horrifying shooting that killed 26 and injured 20 other people at a small-town Texas church, Glen Rose residents came out in droves to learn about something that is becoming all to common — active shooter situations.
Somervell County Sheriff Alan West arranged to bring in security consultant Mike Gurley for a Nov. 29 presentation on the topic, free of charge to local residents at the Glen Rose High School auditorium.
West said he wasn’t sure how many residents might show up for such an event, but was stunned by the final count — 123 people registered. There were so many lined up to register that the process delayed the start by about 30 minutes.
“I thought Somervell County would show,” West said. “I was very proud and impressed. We had one doctor, staff from different businesses and several church organizations. It was a vast, good showing from our community.”
Gurley, of Teamworks Consulting out of Dallas, spoke to the audience before showing a video called “Run. Hide. Fight. Surviving an Active Shooter Event.” That video has had 6.4 million views in five years on YouTube.
“They are so rare, but they happen,” said Gurley, who said he worked in law enforcement for 37 years.
Gurley emphasized that the last resort is to fight — “standing toe-to-toe with a person who has no reason to live” — but sometimes the first two options are not viable to people who find themselves in such desperate situations.
“We want them to get in their mind that the goal is to survive,” Gurley said. “The first priority is to leave the environment.
“We’ve got to prepare. We’ve got to have a plan.”
Gurley noted that the murders of 13 victims in April 1999 by two shooters at Columbine High School in Colorado was “a game-changer” — and marked a new strategy used by law enforcement. The change meant that armed law enforcement officers entered the structure while the shootings were in progress, intending to stop the attack as quickly as possible rather than standing by outside.
Statistics indicate that most mass shooters don’t stop until they are either killed by law enforcement officers, or they kill themselves.
Gurley quoted a number of interesting statistics connected with active shooter incidents.
He said that from 2000 to 2013 there were 160 mass shooting events — in which five or more people were killed. There are, on average, 11.4 mass shooting incidents per year, and one third of those occur in schools.
Gurley noted that many of the shooters are attempting “to correct a perceived wrong against them,” and the targets are “dehumanized.”
“People that do this, for the most part, are sociopaths,” Gurley said, adding that they have a desire to kill “without concern for their safety or capture,” and they normally have “intended victims and will search them out.
Very seldom are these people emotional at all. They see it as accomplishing the goal.”
Hurley noted that 43 percent of such attacks ended prior to the police arrival, and that the active shooting lasts between 3 to 5 minutes. Also, 62 percent are shot by police, 25 percent commit suicide and 13 percent are subdued.
As for the firearms used, Gurley said that 79 percent are obtained legally. He added that 58 percent are semiautomatic, 20 percent are rifles, 14 percent are shotguns and 16 percent are revolvers.
Sheriff West said that local officers have been training teachers in the Glen Rose Independent School District on active shooter strategy for the last five years. West noted that his department will be happy to set up another active shooter training session, or make appearances at various local businesses and churches as well.
Anyone with questions on getting active shooter training for their church, business or other organization can either call the Somervell County Sheriff’s Office at 254-897-2242, or send an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org. They can also help you sign up to receive CodeRed notifications that are sent to land line and cell phones in times of severe public safety threats such as tornados, flooding and other life-threatening events.