What to do in an ‘active shooter’ situation

Local SWAT team member gives tips for dealing with a worst-case scenario

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Following the recent shooting abroad, questions of what to do in an active shooter situation are the forefront of many people’s minds.

Law enforcement officers are getting more training on how to respond to active shooters, but as tragedies like the one in Munich Friday pile up, it’s good for citizens to do the same.

Some tips may seem obvious, but become difficult to follow in a state of shock. That’s why SWAT officers and the Department of Homeland Security say it’s always good to be mentally prepared.

“They’re looking for easy victims,” said Grant Zaitz, a patrol sergeant with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office. “They’re not looking for people to fight back or attack them.”

Zaitz is a member of the SWAT team, and offered some tips for what people should do if they’re ever in this situation.

“Get out of the building as quickly as possible. Warn others if you can on what’s going on and get out of the path of the shooter or the attacker,” Zaitz said.

Sometimes, escape isn’t possible.

Photo Courtesy of KOIN
How to handle and active shooter situation (Photo Courtesy of KOIN)

“If you’re stuck in a room that you can’t lock, do your best to barricade it,” Zaitz said. “Take a big desk, take chairs, do what you can to make sure that person can’t get through those doors.”

The Department of Homeland Security agrees these are the best practices for dealing with an active shooter.

Be aware of your surroundings, take note of at least 2 exits in any building you walk into and get inside a room quickly. If you’re in an office, secure the door — but if all else fails, be prepared to fight.

“There’s going to be a split second where you know where he is but he doesn’t know where you are,” Zaitz said. “So take advantage of that bit of momentary advantage that you have and go on the offensive.”

Unfortunately, there is no singular “golden rule’ for handling a shooter, but it can help to be prepared.

“You mentally rehearse and you mentally role play for the worst case scenarios so that way, when it does happen, you feel like you have a little bit of experience in that situation,” Zaitz said.

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