Three words to remember when facing a violent intruder

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by MONIKA DIAZ / WFAA

WFAA

Posted on February 13, 2013 at 9:16 AM

FRISCO — From Columbine High School, to Aurora, Colorado, to Sandy Hook Elementary, it's the chaos no one wants to face — but "what if?" 

That's the question many North Texas are asking, and some are even preparing for the worst-case scenario of a mass shooting.

"Makes you wonder what do you have in place not to just protect yourself, but your congregation," said the Jeremy Breaud, executive pastor at Genesis Metro Church in Frisco.

Breaud signed up for a training program to prepare for a shooting inside his church. The program is offered by the Lubbock Police Department. 

Six months ago, after the shooting massacre at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, the department modified its active training program to prepare citizens for similar situations. 

So far, 20,000 people have participated in the free course.

"We hope to gain some knowledge that our first reaction is going to be our best reaction, and what to do in case something like this happens," Breaud said.

Chris Paine, a gang detective, SWAT team member, and lead active shooter training instructor, teaches the class. He hopes other police departments create their own programs to help citizens.

"It's almost like I'm giving society permission to play a role in their own survival," Paine said.

Paine quickly lays out the shooter's intentions to the church's security team and ministry leaders.

"It's not like the suspect is taking hostages," Paine explained.  "They are not taking hostages."

Paine also shows them a movie reenactment of the Columbine shootings — specifically, the scene inside the library.  His goal is to demonstrate the perpetrators' reckless indifference to human life.

"They tend to create as many casualties as they can with the time that they are allotted," Paine said.

He said it typically takes officers from three to 12 minutes to respond to a call of this, nature and in that time, he says potential victims need to react.

"Three to 12 minutes to have a direct impact on what he is doing." Paine said.

Paine's program comes down to three words -- Avoid. Deny. Defend. 

With each, he offers tips... and all three actions are interchangeable.

  • AVOID:  Run, find a way out through an exit even if it's a window to avoid the shooter.
     
  • DENY:  Hide, not in plain view, but find a good hiding spot. Find a room with a solid door, lock it and then barricade.  Silence the cell phone to avoid drawing attention.
     
  • DEFEND:  If forced to fight back, be aggressive and improvise. Anything can be a weapon.

Paine's course includes other tips, and also recommends that leaders of every school, church, and workplace come up with their own security plan. He believes borrowing a plan from another facility and implementing it isn't the best approach because each place is built differently, and the plan needs to reflect those differences.

"The key to survival is to have a plan ahead of time," Paine said. "The odds are overwhelmingly in your favor."

Pastor Breaud hopes he never has to use his church's plan, but he says the preparation —  every bit of information — gives him and his team the confidence to serve and protect.

"The more they understand, to know what to do, the better off we are," he said.

Paine has offered this training to other companies and organizations in North Texas. For more information, contact the Lubbock Police Department at 806-775-2971.

E-mail mdiaz@wfaa.com

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