Confronting a Violent Perpetrator
Written by Robert D. Sollars
An active shooter event can be terrifying, not to mention the lead-up to that incident with screaming, shouting, & stomping of little feet, although it is less than 6% of all incidents of workplace/school violence (WPV/SV). Most people have been taught and live by the mantra that they were instructed on, nearly 2 decades ago: Run, Hide, Fight or Avoid, Barricade, Confront. Both of those quotes mean the same thing.
However, there is an alternative that may work better. It turns those 3 words on their proverbial head, turning them around into a more controversial model: Fight, hide, run or confront, barricade, or avoid. Yes, you heard right…I did say controversial, didn’t I? Now let me explain this as best I can in a short post;
The attitude of Flight 93 crashed in Shanksville, PA. on September 11, 2001. In their case, they could do nothing but fight. Fight the perpetrator first…before they can cause further injuries, death, & chaos.
It has been overwhelmingly, through innumerable scenarios – real life and training, proven that if you attack them, it’ll distract them from their goal of murdering people, they may not all have a firearm. That means it should be easier to overcome the weapon, stopping them. And if you don’t stop them, you will slow them down enough to allow your co-workers to escape.
The next obvious question is how do you fight or confront them? For some people, this will never be easy. Some people are understandably reluctant to face a weapon or an angry person. Those people who feel that way still need to keep their wits and use the final 2 points of these mantras… hide or run. Not just their lives but the lives of others may depend on it.
For those that have the courage, you need to do what you can to prevent any more death or chaos. You can do this by;
- Throwing things at the perpetrator. Anything you can use that is close at hand, that is heavy, including coffee cups, staplers, desk phones, or even canned goods.
- Trying to distract them, in any way you can. If you are a ventriloquist…
- Acting like a linebacker from your favorite football team
If you decide to attack it’s always preferable to have more than just yourself, as in Shanksville, to do the work. If you’re assaulted, the larger the number of people to knock down and hold the perpetrator the better your chances of success are. As for the hide or run scenario…
Running is always an option for someone who may be fearful of the perpetrator and especially if that person knows the shooter is after them specifically. An ex, co-worker or supervisor, or anyone else that believes the person shooter is specifically targeting them. If the individual doesn’t remove themselves then the murderous intent of the perpetrator has no reason to abandon their murderous quest.
If you decide to run, then an added caveat: Always find a different way of getting out of the facility, and don’t rely on specified evacuation routes. If it is safe, as most alternate routes wouldn’t be in a fire, then take it. My thought on this is that the perpetrator, especially an ex-employee, will know those routes, and if the attack doesn’t initially work…
As for barricading or hiding yourself before they find you, it’s just as simple. Your hidey hole needs to be as small as it can be for you, dark, and easily barricaded with a desk, file cabinet, or something similar if it doesn’t have a lock on it. The only issue with that would be, is that if there is no external lock on the door or handle, then the perp will know someone is in there, so…
Likewise, if you have a serious respiratory health issue, you may not want to have anyone else with you as you hide. The reasoning is fairly obvious, a dead giveaway is for you to be gasping for breath while hiding and potentially fatal for anyone with you.
Studies have shown that it takes law enforcement approx. 3 – 10 minutes, sometimes even longer, to respond to an active shooter call. These same studies also show that the incidents are usually over within 2 to 3½ minutes. That means you can’t depend on law enforcement to stop the perpetrator. Remember in the shooting at the Capitol Gazette in 2018, law enforcement was on-site within 90 seconds and 7 people died and 5 were wounded.
Most people, unfortunately, will have no idea how to react to such an incident or be poorly trained…at best. If they do offer the necessary training, you need to take full advantage of it and learn it, not just attend for brownie points.
WPV/SV is a growing concern for all organizations. Whether that violence is because of a work dispute, bullying, mental issues, rebuffed romances, domestic violence, terrorism, or something else we need to be prepared. That means developing an action plan, which by necessity, includes the fight, run, or hide scenario.
With more than 16 million incidents every year, yes that many, it’s clear that we need to do something. And if we can’t turn our schools & businesses into gulags, which aren’t very aesthetically pleasing or wanted, or throw out Constitutional rights we have to train and prepare for such an event, and the fight, hide, run model should be an integral part of that.
Don’t believe me on this? Then let’s discuss it!
I have more than 40 years in the security field & more than 30 working with workplace & school violence prevention. Contact me at; Sollars Violence Prevention Training & Consulting. You can also write me at email@example.com for the fastest service call 480-2551-5197 24/7/365 because violence and crime don’t take holidays!
You can check out my books and discover a whole lot more: Murder in the Classroom: A Practical Guide for Prevention or Murder at Work: A Practical Guide for Prevention
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