N.C. Detective Offers Public Free Active Shooter Response Training
The High Point Enterprise, N.C.
Jan. 21—HIGH POINT—About 30 members of Gethsemane Baptist Church participated in a free class Saturday to prepare for an active shooting event they hope never happens at their Wise Avenue church.
"No community is safe anymore," said Priscilla Brown, a retired nurse who had read The High Point Enterprise article about the classes High Point Police Detective Randy Knight offers. "You just never know, and we want to be prepared. I thought this would be something we should be aware of."
Pastor Roy Fitzgerald agreed.
"I think that knowledge is power, and the more knowledge we have, the better we are able to respond," he said. "We hope that nothing of this nature would ever happen, but when it does happen or if it does happen, as someone said, 'He who has failed to plan is planning to fail.' We need to have a little proactive vision for what may happen, and we pray to God it never happens. But if it does happen, we want to be prepared."
An active shooter event means the same thing as attempted mass murder, said Knight, a police officer who also operates A Safe Knight Inc., a private business that teaches groups what to do in active shooter situations. Although those attacks often take the form of a gunman entering a church, school, business or other crowded area and opening fire to injure or kill as many victims as possible, the weapons can be knives, vehicles or explosives. No matter the specifics, Knight urges individuals to be aware of their surroundings and take immediate action.
Rather than the "run, hide and fight" model people have been taught for years, Knight urges individuals to develop and practice emergency action plans. By pretending to be dead, a victim is basically waiting to die, Knight said. He encourages people to choose the following options instead:
- Avoid the attacker and move out of sight
- Deny access by locking doors, building barricades
- Defend yourself.
"In a situation where someone is attempting to kill you, you have the right to defend yourself," Knight said. "Call 911 as soon as you are in a safe location. What you do matters."
Knight provided examples from events, such as the April 20, 1999, mass shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado when a teen gunman massacred a class of kindergarten students who hid in the corner of a classroom with their teacher. Most students in another class survived after their teacher fought back and distracted the gunman.
Knight asked the smallest child who attended the session at Gethsemane to demonstrate grabbing the barrel of a shotgun and holding it down to deter a would-be attacker. The 7-year-old was able to hold off an adult, armed with a plastic gun of realistic weight.
Although a few attendees had previous military experience, Knight pointed out that greeters and ushers know a church congregation best and can serve as a security team in a church setting. He asked whether the church would be willing to incorporate a practice session of its scripted plan during a Sunday worship service. He compared it to coaches, military officers and business managers mapping out plans and practicing drills to avoid people having to think through actions under stressful conditions.
Knight began offering these classes free to churches and schools in response to mass shootings, which have steadily increased across the nation. Those include the Nov. 5, 2017, incident when a man walked into a Texas church and opened fire, killing 26 people and injuring 20 others, and the Oct. 1, 2017, Las Vegas massacre when a man killed 58 people and injured more than 850 attending a country music concert.
"When we talk about defending yourself, you've got the rest of your life to defend yourself. How long is that going to be?," Knight asked. "When somebody comes to our building, our business, our church, our school or our restaurant, they are targeting that because they expect to get a very vulnerable crowd and a high number of victims. But the minute they realize the victims are not there, they don't know what to do. When all of the sudden their plan gets interrupted, they don't have a backup plan. They're looking for quick victims."
By increasing awareness of surroundings and practicing a defense plan, people are going to be prepared if an event actually happens, he said. "We can protect not only our congregation, we can protect our businesses and, believe it or not, if we can get this to continue outside of here, I think our violence in the city as a whole will start going down," Knight said.