Spate of Summer 2013 Shootings

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With three summer 2013 shootings in three weeks, the dog days of summer have suddenly become deadly.  First, on July 27,  a gunman opened fire in an apartment complex in Hialeah, Florida, killing six, including a man who was just walking down the street after returning from his son’s boxing practice.  Just over a week later, on August 7, a junk dealer who had been feuding with local officials over his property killed three men and wounded two others who were attending a town meeting in Ross Township, Pennsylvania.  This morning the third spree killing in three weeks occurred in Dallas, Texas and its neighboring suburb of Desoto as an armed suspect shot eight people at two separate residences, killing four and wounding four more. In just three weeks, spree killers have murdered 13 people and wounded six others. Citizens are wondering what to do if they suddenly find themselves thrust into a spree shooting near their home, an active attack at a school, or a mass shooting such as the one that occurred almost exactly two months ago in Santa Monica, California.

Although these incidents are dynamic in nature and constantly changing based on the attackers' motivation, skills and weapons, there are some steps the average citizen can take to increase their chances of survival.  The ESCAPE Model developed by the Community Safety Institute details specific survival tactics including:

EXIT

  • AS SOON AS POSSIBLE WHEN SAFE TO DO SO
  • WITHOUT PRESENTING A TARGET FOR THE SHOOTER
  • WITHOUT DRAWING ATTENTION TO YOURSELF

SEEK COVER

  • TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM HARM
  • OBJECTS THAT PROVIDE COVER FROM BULLETS INCLUDE BRICK WALLS, BUILDING SUPPORT BEAMS, STEEL MAILBOXES OR EVEN THE BASE OF THICK TREES

CONCEAL Yourself

  • HIDE FROM THE OFFENDER(S)
  • HIDING IN AN OPEN AREA UNDER TABLES AND CHAIRS IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH
  • BE CREATIVE IN FINDING PLACES TO HIDE
  • REMAIN HIDDEN UNTIL RESCUED BY POLICE

ASSESS all alternatives

  • OFFENDER
  • VICTIM
  • ENVIRONMENT

PRESENT a small target

  • STAY LOW
  • CRAWL OR RUN IN A CROUCHED POSITION

ENGAGE

  • ENGAGE ONLY AS A LAST RESORT
  • ENGAGE WITH MULTIPLE INDIVIDUALS IF POSSIBLE

No one ever expects to be involved in any type of shooting - but if you are, these six simple steps can increase your chances for survival.

About the author: John Matthews is a highly decorated, 30-year law enforcement veteran and public safety consultant who has developed scores of federal law enforcement initiatives.  He is a recipient of a Texas Press Association award for column writing,  authored Mass Shootings: Six Steps for Survival, and co-authored of The Eyeball Killer, a first-hand account of his capture of Dallas’ only serial killer.