Many public businesses and parking lots have become lethal crime scenes for a variety of reasons. Here is a brief account of several incidents in chronological order:
- June 2018: A gunman shot one person as he attempted to carjack a vehicle in the parking lot of a Walmart store in Tumwater, WA. A legally armed citizen intervened where he shot and killed the suspect.
- August 2018: A man pulled a gun during a verbal altercation in the checkout lines of a Walmart store in Wyncote, PA. After shots were fired, eight people were injured.
- September 2018: A woman shot and killed her estranged husband during their custody exchange at a Walmart store in Alexandria, LA. Although their three children were present, none of them were physically hurt during the shooting.
- September 2018: A gunman shot several people killing three and wounding two other people inside a downtown Cincinnati, OH bank before being killed by responding police.
- September 2018: A woman entered a Starbucks store in Bakersfield, CA after being chased by a machete-wielding man. A male customer intervened and was seriously injured defending the unknown woman. The man with the machete was ultimately taken into custody by police.
All of these things have some common themes – they all occurred in places that are in the public domain throughout our nation and they involve both male and female violent offenders. There is no place exempt from this type of violent outburst.
So, if you are thinking it only happens somewhere else, you might be proven wrong when you least expect it. Anytime you are out in public, whether it’s shopping, out for a quick bite, a coffee break or dinner and a movie be aware that a violent episode can happen anywhere and at any time.
The people who commits these types of violent acts has chosen the day, time and location of their violent episode. They can occur for any reason from a domestic situation, disputes over child custody issues, or a continuous string of violent crimes where the suspect(s) will do anything to anyone in furtherance of their crimes.
These situations cannot be prevented, only reacted to. What will you do when (not if) shots are fired or a violent assault takes place in your immediate vicinity.
There are a couple of pro-active steps one can take prior to any violent act occurring.
- In jurisdictions that allow people to be legally armed, obtain a permit to carry a firearm. Go to the firearms range not only to obtain the necessary qualification score to obtain the permit, you want to become very proficient with that firearm. Also, once you are authorized to carry that weapon concealed, keep your weapon with you in as many places as you can “legally” do so. My personal thought is that unless a law prohibits you from carrying your weapon into that location, or the facility/venue is screening by use of metal detection, keep your weapon with you.
Facilities that have an “administrative policy” of admonishing patrons to not to bring their weapons into or onto their grounds more often than not fail to provide adequate armed security to thwart any lethal criminal acts from being committing.
Carry additional rounds (an extra magazine or two) with you. You may never know how many rounds may be required to fire to stop a violent offender and you don’t want to be involved in a gunfight holding an empty firearm because you have expended all of your ammunition. Once you are legally armed and trained, you will know what to do to save your life and the lives of those precious loved ones who may be with you.
- Know your environment. This means any building you enter, business you frequent, etc. know where all the exits are in case you may need to use them. As an example, if you are inside a building when shots are fired outside and in front of the store, know where the exit doors are and what it takes to exit via those doors. If the building has a great deal of glass, know what it takes should you need to create an exit through the glass.
- Be present when you are in public. This means not to be so preoccupied with any type of distractions that you are unable to notice the presence of danger.
- If you are outside (out in the open) when shots are fired, know where you can immediately position yourself behind something that will block possible incoming bullets. Typically, the sounds of gunfire will indicate the location of that particular gunman.
You will want to place a barrier between you and that sound that is capable of stopping the bullets. If you are using the side of a vehicle, the best place is low and directly next to the wheel.
In any event, notice the signs of a commotion: loud or raised voices, objects being suddenly and violently moved about, or gunshots fired, take immediate action. Your first responsibility is your safety. If you are accompanied by loved ones, take steps to ensure their safety as well.
If you witnessed any portion of the violent episode, you are not required to stay at the location to be a witness for the police especially if the location is still unstable. As soon as it’s safe to do so, leave the area and go to a much safer location. Once there, you can always telephone law enforcement and report what you have seen. More often than not, police will come to your location and not have you return to the scene.
Rehearse with your family what you will do when things go off the rails. Practice with them moving with you as you either escape or take cover. Have a specific code word for them to advise them of the danger they may or may not be aware of.
The most important thing is to be aware of your environment when you are out in public.