Saturday, May 11, 2019

Fight If You Must

"The idea of 'run, hide, fight' is what they teach."
"Run if you can. Hide if you need to. And fight if you must."
"Some people are just wired to react to that situation."
Don Gilmore, father of student at STEM School Highlands Ranch, Denver, Colorado

"It's the option of doing nothing versus doing something."
"Over the years we have unfortunately learned -- at Columbine, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech -- that if we teach staff and students to do nothing and wait for police, the death rates would be much, much worse."
Greg Crane, founder, ALICE Training Institute

"The concept can work, but we caution people because we have had quite a few people shot and killed by attempting this."
"We are taking great pains in teaching people when not to take that approach [to engage with threatening, armed attackers]."
Michael Dorn, senior analyst, Safe Havens International, school security consulting firm

"[If Kendrick Castillo had any hesitation] he threw it out the window."
"They all [her male classmates who responded to the threat of an armed intruder to disarm him] risked their lives to help us get out."
Nui Giasolli, STEM School Highlands Ranch
Kendrick Castillo (left) and Riley Howell
Kendrick Castillo (left) and Riley Howell   AP

Riley Howell was 21 when he was shot to death as he attempted to jump a gunman who had entered his classroom at University of North Carolina-Charlotte. He managed to knock the gunman off his feet. But it cost him his life. "He took the fight to the assailant. Unfortunately, he had to give his life to do so, but he saved lives doing so", commented Chieff Kerr Putney of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police.

According to the founder of Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate (ALICE), Greg Crane, people should be trained so that they can under such circumstances become proactive in disarming a shooter. Lockdowns, on the other hand, is the option chosen by Kenneth Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services, a firm geared to conduct school security and emergency planning assessments.

Training that focuses on running, hiding and fighting a gunman called options-based training, is, however, gaining credence and thus support.

Recommending that students take the initiative to commit to a life-or-death decision in fighting a gunman presents as problematic, Mr Trump believes. Senior analyst at the school security consulting firm Safe Havens International, Michael Dorn points out training looks at various methods of response to a shooter inclusive of tackling the person. He cautions against that option.

A Douglas County, Colorado, Sheriff's Department deputy walks past the doors to the STEM Highlands Ranch school early Wednesday, May 8, in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. (David Zalubowski/AP)

Most gun incidents in schools, he points out, do not involve shooting, However, where a person with a gun becomes challenged, the result then is that shots are fired. Nui Giasolli recalls sitting in class at an end-of-year session when a classmate, 18 years old, came in late, shut the door, pulled a gun and ordered the class: "Don't anybody move". She froze, thought it must be a joke, then heard her teacher say: "Gun. Get down".

The shooting began, and she saw another classmate, Kendrick Castillo and several others attempt to grab the gun, as she ducked under a desk. Castillo was shot, the shooter moved on and a number of boys in her class tackled him. Among them was Brendan Bialy, 18, a member of the Marine Corps Delayed Entry Program. "A bias to action" and leadership are issues that Bialy has discussed with his recruiter since joining the program and training began.

Capt. Michael Maggitti of the Marine Corps program described Bialy in class as the attack occurred "and he decided to step up and take action" to protect other classmates and teachers. Bialy and several others "helped put an end to the tragedy", concluded Capt. Maggitti.

"We out here straight conducting our Oath of Enlistment for the United States Marine Corps. One step closer, fellas," Brendan Bialy wrote on a 2018 photo on an Instagram account reportedly belonging to him. (Instagram screenshot)

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