Author: Lt. Dan Marcou
Another active shooter/killer strikes – this time in a Florida high school – leaving in his wake deaths, injuries, mourning and these inevitable questions:
- Why did he do it? What do we do to prepare/prevent these incidents?
This is what I have concluded
Having met active shooters professionally, I was drawn to research these events extensively and develop tactics for not only responding to, but also preventing these incidents.
I have concluded that family, teachers, peers, fellow employees, mental health professionals and good citizens can stop these active shooters by taking effective action, during the first four of the five phases these killers travel through. To review the Five Phases of the Active Shooter they are:
- The Fantasy Phase The Planning Phase The Preparation Phase The Approach Phase Implementation Phase.
If you don’t stop them in one of the first four phases then you are left with one option. To borrow an old cavalry term, you must as quickly as possible, during the Implementation Phase, “Ride to the sound of the guns!”
I am no PHD, but I have discovered the answer for why they kill can be found in one or more of the following categories:
- Drug/gang war Holy war What for? (The dangerously mentally ill.) What for! (They want to give fellow humans the proverbial “What for!” out of pure hate.) Top score. (They want to become famous by killing more than anyone else. They will not stop killing until they run out of ammunition or someone stops them. If they are killing with a knife or vehicle, they will not run out of ammunition. If they are wearing a bomb, they must be dissuaded or diffused. )
What You Have Probably Done To Prepare
Most of you have attended some sort of police training on active shooter/killer response. That training expanded your knowledge of these events and, in some cases, gave you practical options and allowed you to practice team tactics to move through a building passing roll players who were playing frightened, wounded and killed victims. You joined others in a one-trained formation or another in search of roll player(s) pretending to be the culprit. You practiced communication and conducted rescues.
These are excellent opportunities to train and prepare together. Agencies should continue these exercises, but after each training concludes, evaluate them and decide if you are even nearly duplicating the urgency an initial lone responding officer faces.
A Decision That Is Yours to Make
The fact is that if you are the only first responder at one of these events or even an off-duty/retired officer who happens to be present, you will realize it would be safer to have two, three, four, five or even six additional officers to assist you. However you also may be keenly made aware by the in-progress circumstance that every moment you wait for additional officers to arrive is a moment during which innocents are in fear of death, or actually being killed.
I can’t tell you what to do in that lonely moment, but I know what I will do. I have taken the pledge long ago that if I am ever once again in a position to do so I will move to stop the killing immediately. If you are a police officer (active, retired, or off-duty) consider taking this pledge. Remember, when your moment arrives, whether you are on-duty, off-duty or retired, it is your decision to make not mine:
The Active Shooter/Killer Pledge
I have personally decided that the threats faced by my generation of police officers require that I always be armed and personally committed to furiously train to protect those who can’t protect themselves in their moment of desperate need.
If I am ever faced with an in-progress active shooter/killer and I can make a difference, I will use my superior attitude, superior training, superior tactics and superior weapon (superior because it is in my trained hands) to become an army of one!
Out of my love for humanity I will enter that environment like a hate-seeking missile and use the chaos created by the killer(s) as a distractive device. I will move unheard and unseen by the killer(s) to a position of advantage. Once there – if left with no other options and presented with the opportunity to stop the killing – I will take the shot and make the shot. I am the protector of the flock; the honorable sheepdog.
Whether you take the pledge or not, prepare brothers and sisters, for your moment may be at hand.