By Brady Brewster
CAROLINA NEWS AND REPORTER
On June 9, 2010, Miranda Rougelot and her mother were exploring the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., when James W. von Brunn opened fire inside the museum, killing a security guard.
"I was right by the entrance," Rougelot said. " I was watching the videos playing, and there was one where a bunch of Nazis were shooting guns. So, I was watching the videos kind of from the entrance, and I heard all of the gunshots (in the video) but then it stopped, and then kept going. So, I was like maybe it’s a different video, but I looked up and the shooter was right at the door.”
Rougelot said she was rushed into an exhibit where she hid for 45 minutes to an hour until the shooter had been apprehended.
While the chances are low that you will ever be in an active shooter situation, Maj. Irick "T.J." Geary, operations bureau commander at the University of South Carolina Division of Law Enforcement and Safety says that simply being prepared for a situation like this can be monumental in saving your life.
“Preparedness is key, whether it’s an active shooter, or a weather emergency, or even just kind of a random criminal act,” Geary said.
Geary teaches active shooter training courses at USC and around the Columbia area. He says his department teaches three steps in the event of an active shooter situation. The acronym they teach, is A.D.D., which stands for avoid, deny and defend.
If at all possible, you should avoid the situation altogether. For example, Geary said that if a shooting happens on campus near the Russell House, then avoid the area. If you are in the area and have the ability to leave it, then you should get as far from the area as possible.
If you are not able to avoid the shooter, then you should deny the shooter access to your area. Go into a room and lock and barricade the door with heavy items. Be sure to turn off the lights to appear as if no one is in the room, and line up along a wall that the shooter will not be able to see you if he looks into a window.
Finally, if you are unable to deny the shooter access to you, then you need to be prepared to defend yourself. “
These attackers typically spend months planning these events. So they’re going over their script in their head and they’re anticipating what they’ll encounter, and most of the time what they’re expecting to encounter are passive victims who are going to comply,” Geary said. “One of the phrases we use is comply and die.”
Geary said in his workshops he goes into detail about weapons of opportunity. This means that you should use anything you can find, like keys, pencils, fire extinguishers, etc. to defend yourself against the shooter. He stressed that since shooters are expecting victims to be passive, that any type of retaliation could be enough to disorient the shooter long enough for you to escape or for you to gain possession of the gun until police arrive on the scene.
If you are interested in learning more about how to react in an active shooter situation, visit USC's crime prevention website to schedule a workshop, or A.D.D.'s website for a more in depth tutorial video.