What to do in an active-shooter situation

Stacey Hartley • Aug 6, 2019 at 9:00 PM

After successive shooting attacks in the not-so-recent past, people might wonder how they can protect themselves and their loved ones in the event one occurs. While we can’t know for certain when, where and by whom a shooting will take place, there are things we can do 

The Huron County Sheriff’s Office and Norwalk Police Department offered some practical advice on what steps can be taken to better respond in such circumstances.

“Whenever you go anywhere, you ought to take notice of where you are,” Chief Deputy Dave Ditz said. “Biologically, it’s hard-wired into our bodies to pick up on anything potentially harmful in our environment ... things that maybe look out of place.”

Here are some examples:

• Unattended baggage

• Abnormal sounds and smells

• People acting unusually and/or exhibiting noticeably strange behavior;

“So if you notice a collection of things that have you building up your suspicions ... (because) sometimes things just don’t look right ... or something in your body that could be telling you, ‘something’s odd here,’ you pick up the phone and you call us (and) 9-1-1,” Ditz said.

What if perpetrators already have started shooting before anyone can alert the authorities?

1. Run out of sight

2. Find a place to hide, preferably behind a locked door

3. Barricade the door with tables, furniture if you can

4. Fight

“But if there’s nowhere you can run and hide, then you fight,” police Chief Mike Conney said.

What if someone — who is not the shooter — has a concealed firearm on their person when an assault begins? 

“When first responders do show up, if you have a weapon, you need to get (it) out of your hand,” Ditz said.

“For a person with a concealed-carry (permit) in rapidly-changing active-shooter situations, you have the right to defend your life and the life of other people. But when confronted by first responders, it’s very important that you be compliant with the demands made by law enforcement officers,” Conney added.

When asked what community members should be cognizant of in active-shooter situations, Ditz said “the amount of confusion people will experience can be overwhelming.”

“And I don’t know how you prepare (yourself) for something like that,” the chief deputy added. “We want you to be alert, not paranoid.”

“In general,” offered Conney, “I would say to trust your instincts and gut feelings about things. The sooner you can recognize the potential, the quicker you can act. Pay attention to surroundings when (you’re) out-and-about. ... You’ll be ahead of the curve, especially with most people today solely focused on (their) electronics.” 

If you see something, say something, authorities said. To report strange activity, call:

• 9-1-1

• Huron County Sheriff’s Office at 419-668-6912

• Norwalk Police Department at 419-663-6780

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