Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Citizen response to an Active Shooter Scenario, by Tom Buchino, President, Covenant Special Projects, LLC.

As we all try to cope with the magnitude of yet another active shooting in America, the shooting in a Connecticut school is made tougher to comprehend due to the young ages of some many of its victims. America is sickened by these events and as the investigation develops, acts of heroism and selfless services will come to light. While the grieving for those lost continues and the healing later begins, we ask ourselves the same questions: How can something like this happen? What kind of animal performs such a heinous act? Were there warning sighs? and so on...

While law enforcement investigates aspects leading to and including the shooting itself, while media outlets and politicians call for Gun Control discussions, while victims suffer through painful recovery and the lingering effects of such a traumatic event; the real question America must ask itself is: Can this happen to me?

Most will answer NO; however let’s face reality. Although the probability of such an incident taking place in your neck of the woods is low, the possibility remains. Citizens cannot know the hidden motivations, agendas and evil within its populace; but it’s there. On any given day, in any neighborhood, this can occur and you could be in the corsairs of evil.

In December alone, America has witnessed two like events within a week. My guess is the victims of these crimes (and those ranging from Columbine to Virginia Tech) never thought this could happen to them. Whether a mall, theatre, or school shooting, something must be done to prepare citizens for this type assault. Of course in a perfect world the previous sentence would read: something must be done to prevent such an event, but prevention is nearly impossible.

The intent in this piece is not to diagnosis the sociopath, homicidal-maniac or the suicidal disturbed. Nor is it intended to overview contributing social factors for such crimes. It is however, to inform parents, business owners, faculties, retailers and CITIZENS of simple steps you may take if ever caught in an Active Shooter scenario.

Covenant Special Projects (CSP), a private security consulting firm, El Paso, TX) Incident Response Course (IRC) is system instructed to schools and businesses whom choose to take a proactive approach to security and emergency response procedures. The Incident Response Course is a holistic approach to pre-incident situational awareness, demographic trends, internal and external threat mitigation, Emergency Action Planning and law enforcement coordinations. IRC program attendees have embraced its principles to supplement security readiness.

But if you cannot attend an IRC what should you and your family know NOW?

These three words are key to CSP’s Incident Response Course “individual actions” training phase.

Run - Hide - Fight works under the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Silly). KISS principles and techniques are designed to be effective yet simplistic in nature, simplistic in execution and easily recalled and implemented during times of duress. The Run - Hide - Fight system and its steps may be executed in any environment; from schools and churches, to restaurants and sporting venues, to malls or office buildings.

RUN: When confronted by an active shooter/shooting, RUN! Put distance between you and the shooter. Gather your family (placing children to your front) and run away from the violence. Look for turns / corners to change direction taking you and others out of the “line of sight” of the shooter. Warn others as you run. Warn them without hysterics yet in a commanding voice. SHOOTER-SHOOTER-SHOOTER!. Keep moving.

As you run, seek exits that may provide you an egress avenue. If need be, seek cover along your egress route for a temporary halt. Try not remain behind the cover for extended periods of time and be prepared to move as soon as you identify an opening or are being pursued by the shooter (lull in gun fire, shooter travels away for your position, shooter move directly at you, law enforcement directs you, etc.).

If cornered by the shooting and running is not a option...

HIDE: Seek cover behind or in something or somewhere that will mask your position, impede or resist bullets. Find a closet, office, restroom; preferably a room or structure that has no windows, lockable door and solid walls. Move into the room, lock doors, position others and yourself, barricade doors and windows if time allows and remain quite (maybe the shooter will bypass your location if he/she feels no one is there).

Quietly seek out defense items within the room or as you move to a hide site. Fire extinguisher, tools, shovel, letter opener, golf club, telephone handset; anything that may be used to defend yourself if entry is made by the shooter. Develop a attack plan with others (if applicable) to be executed upon shooter entry into your hide-site.

If the shooter enters your hide-site...

FIGHT: Attack fast, attack close and be violent. Do not allow the shooter to fully enter your room seeking targets. Benefit from surprise and violence. Concentrate your attacks on the shooters head and neck region (if they are wearing body armor, attacks to torso may have little effect). Hit, stab, kick, stomp; anything to stop the shooter. Stay close to the shooter as you attack. Do not provide distance to the shooter as his weapons (Handgun/Rifle) will place you at a sever disadvantage. Do not try to reason or plead with the shooter; their intentions are obvious and you should be directing all energy towards attacking. Yell, make noise, as this may empower others to jump in and assist and may test the true motivation of the shooter.

I cannot express how important is to be VIOLENT. Do not let up, fight, fight, fight. You are not fighting to kill, you are not fighting to win, you are fighting to stop the shooter; your fighting for your life. If during your attack you gain possession of the shooters weapon, use it! Be prepared to run if the situation allows.

The Exit: Be aware that law enforcement will be making rapid entry into the crime scene. They will be employing a technique referred to as Direct to Threat (responding officer/s move directly to threat with immediate intent of stopping the shooter). They may be directing fleeing citizens and will provide instructions as they ingress to the incident scene. Ensure you display your hands (open and raised;showing officers that you are not a threat). Officers may take physical control of you and others, place you in safe locations and/or escort you away from the immediate area. All of this will happen in minutes; just know that America’s law enforcement agencies have strict protocols and perform their procedures with the intent of protecting the citizen and stopping the shooter(s).

Regardless of your physical status, training or life experience, everyone has the aptitude necessary to maintain situational awareness, identify safe areas at locations and stay alert. It’s sad to think we in America must consider educating ourselves and loved ones on such threats, but the time to prepare for evil is not when evil strikes.


Things to remember:
~ Be aware of your surrounding.
~ Always identify a way out (exits/windows/stairwells).
~ When in a crowded location (theatre/sports arena/church/etc.), sit near row ends vs. in the middle of the row (provides quicker response and egress).
~ Establish a rally point (easily identifiable day or night) for your family / friends. A location that if separated, everyone meets at after an incident (parking lot, park, bus stop, etc.).
~ People Watch. If someone looks out of place, dressed inappropriately, or equipped with questionable items, take action.
~ Run; move away from the shooter.
~ Hide if running is not an option.
~ Be prepared to fight; fight violent.
~ If cornered by the shooter, you have one option: FIGHT!
~ Adhere to law enforcement directives.

Tom Buchino, a retired U.S. Army Special Forces SGM, is the owner of Covenant Special Projects, LLC, and Tactical Ranch. As well as providing tactical training for military units and law enforcement agencies, Covenant Special Projects offers an Incident Response Course (IRC) providing risk mitigation, information collection, and emergency action planning and training, and, consulting services for U.S.institutions of learning, businesses and organizations whom choose to educate and prepare for high threat security risks.

Tom Buchino, President, Covenant Special Projects, LLC. www.CSP-Tactical.com P.O. Box 221108 El Paso, TX 79913 915-855-8056

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