Active shooter incidents can happen at any time and anywhere. Are you prepared? Consider the McDonald’s active shooter incident: A gunman opened fire and killed 21 people and wounded many others at a McDonald’s restaurant in San Ysidro, Calif. July 18, 1984. (Photo AP/Lenny Ignelzi)
This MOLLE-style magazine carrier is held solidly in place via straps & will fit over body armor. (Courtesy of Eagle Industries)
The M4 Patrol Bandoleer will hold multiple AR and pistol magazines.(Courtesy of Eagle Industries)
The Shotgun Patrol Bandoleer is for the officer equipped with the traditional 12-gauge shotgun.(Courtesy of Eagle Industries)
FEATURED IN TACTICS AND WEAPONS
In 1984, James Huberty entered a San Ysidro, Calif., McDonald s with several firearms and began to kill its patrons for no apparent reason. In one of the largest mass killings in history, he shot 40 people, killing 21. Experts pontificated on the possible reasons for his actions, but no one really knew. In the end, he was deemed a crackpot and life went on.
This incident had a profound effect on me, and I read everything that I could find about it. I began to wonder what would have happened if my wife and children had been in that restaurant. What did the responding officers feel as they stood back and watched? They must have felt so helpless as they stood by and waited for command officers to issue an order. What would have happened if this had been a school building?
Unfortunately, we now know the answer to this last question. Such incidents have occurred with enough frequency that law enforcement had to make changes in the way we respond. SWAT was thought to be the answer. We trained officers to set up a perimeter, contain the situation and wait for SWAT to respond. The incident at Columbine changed everything. While containment was being established, children were being murdered. A public outcry immediately followed the incident.
The next evolution was the creation of the Rapid Response System (Quad and now T systems) in which officers were trained by SWAT to create ad hoc entry teams to deal with shooters before more innocents die. I attended several of these courses. They were all well thought out, but as I completed the courses, one question remained, Will these four officers from different agencies be able to come together three or four years from now and perform this action? To be honest, I doubted it.
Today, some trainers are breaking away from impromptu teams and calling for one or two officers to enter and cautiously move toward the sound of gunfire to stop the carnage.
A Personal Choice
Of course, there s much debate regarding which response is the best method, and I m sure this debate will continue for the foreseeable future. I made my decision many years ago. Right after the incident in San Diego County, I gave much thought to what I would do if faced with a slaughter in progress (the term Active Shooter was yet to be coined), how I would respond to the death of women and children before my very eyes. I was a young SWAT officer then, and while SWAT tactics were not as refined as now, entry tactics, room clearing and movement/shooting were much the same then as they are today. Patrol rifles were not common, but every car had a shotgun, and I carried a box of slugs in my briefcase. I knew their POA/POI at 50 yards. And when I was assigned to SWAT, I had either an MP-5 or an AUG-P 5.56 in the trunk to work with.
In any event, I decided that when faced with an active shooting I would go in, alone if necessary, but preferably with another officer to act as a rear guard. I didn t worry about specialized training. I decided I would use building search tactics that were standard and well practiced throughout Ohio thanks to Bill Groce, a forward-thinking instructor at the state training academy. My plan was that I would enter and tell my backup officer to watch our backs. I would move, slice the pie and clear hallways and rooms as I had been taught. The difference: I would compress the time that it took to perform these actions, hopefully hastening my identification of the shooter s location.
If shots were being fired, I would move in the direction of the sound as quickly as possible, scanning in a 360 degree arc for other threats. Having responded to a fire at an elementary school, I realized that frightened children might try to cling to me, but all I could do would be to peel them off, offer a few quick words of comfort and go forward. If I arrived at the scene of the carnage and the shooting had stopped say it had turned into a hostage crisis I would back off and wait for SWAT. My response would depend on whether or not the shooting was ongoing when I arrived.
It was a simple plan really, based on existing training and known skills. It s what I had at the time.
To this day, I have not changed my mind about my active shooter plan. Some will think I m crazy, but I long ago made up my mind that children, the future of our society, are worth dying for and that I will do whatever I can to see that they live to become adults.
This is a personal decision and not one I made lightly. I m not trying to push my decision on you. However, this situation could happen to you. What will you do if you face an active shooter and you re all alone? Maybe you work in a rural area and you re the only patrol officer for miles around, what will you do? Regardless of your circumstances, it s a good idea to decide now and make a plan.
Training & Tools
Active shooter training continues across the country, and some programs are better than others. I believe that if a particular program requires a lot of choreography and complex skills, it will fail in a crisis. The programs I like best are those based on simplicity and good common sense.The problem: Not every officer across the United States will receive this training. Further, as officers leave or retire and new ones come on board, the training must be repeated.
If you haven t received such training, you can still prepare to face such situations. Get a reliable patrol rifle or practice with your issue shotgun loaded with slugs. Practice until you know you can hit what you aim at. Practice your building-search skills, sharpen your room-clearing ability, and work on negotiating halls and stairways.
Above all, keep your head. When the time comes, don t let the cries and screams of those in fear divert your attention from the task at hand.
Right now, someone is preparing to meet you and beat you. So train hard, and stay on guard.
Response Gear What to Carry into an Active Shooter Event
I'm not someone who believes gear will save the day only a willing officer(s) will do that but there are pieces of kit that will help. Eagle Industries offers quality products for both military and law enforcement operations, and its products for Active Shooter Response are second to none. I used a number of Eagle products from the company s early days, and I still have them. They re that well built.
Eagle s MOLLE Style Six Magazine M4 Chest Rig (CR-M4/6-MS-LE) offers instant access to spare ammunition via three, flap-covered, 30-round M4 magazine pouches. Other necessary accessories, like pistol magazines, may be carried in MOLLE pouches, which can be attached via webbing attachment points. The harness can be worn over body armor.
The Patrol Bandoleer (PB-M4/4-M9/2-LE) gives the responding officer an added advantage in handling rapidly changing events. It offers instant access to spare ammunition, a flashlight and a multi-tool. It is quickly deployable from the vehicle and easily secured to the officer via a shoulder strap, which features a quick-release buckle.
Eagle s Shotgun Patrol Bandoleer (PB-12SGS-M9/2-LE) allows the first responder quick access to two pistol magazines and 12 shotgun rounds. The rounds are secured by individual elastic loops. This is the perfect solution, allowing a responding officer to quickly grab spare ammunition while deploying the shotgun.
Finally, Eagle makes what they call an Active Shooter Bag (ASB), which is designed to carry three to five spare M4 magazines, multiple wound kits, light sticks, medical scissors and a tourniquet. The ASB has a convenient design that provides three carry modes via the carry handle and fully adjustable shoulder strap with quick-release buckle.
What I like about all of these products is their grab-and-go nature no fooling around. The gear I need is ready, and all I have to do is put it over my shoulder. These tools are a part of a plan to respond to what might be the single most serious threat that faces law enforcement today, the Active Shooter.
For more information, contact Eagle Industries at 1000 Biltmore Dr., Fenton, MO 63026, by phone at 888/343-7547 or online at www.eagleindustries.com.