What To Do If A Shooter Walks Into Your Workplace

By: Ann McIntire Email
By: Ann McIntire Email

It happened in Minnesota where six lives were claimed in a workplace shooting on September 27th. Three dead after an attack in a Wisconsin spa and two people shot to death at a company in Los Angeles. All of these massacres took place in the last month or so taking a total of 11 lives. More local businesses are preparing for the horrific possibility of an active shooter.

"I don't think I realized the enormity of what had happened," said Fred Wilson. He's a survivor.

Wilson was inside the Von Maur store at Westroads Mall on December 5, 2007 when a shooter walked into the store, opened fire and killed eight people before shooting himself. "If I could do over that day, I would drop where I was and perhaps flick off a light switch."

Wilson said his actions that day were a whirlwind, his mind racing. It's because of horrible situations like Von Maur that several businesses now train employees to think about reacting to an active shooter situation.

"If you've at least thought about it in this training, you can almost say you've been there in your mind and be ready to do something," said Jim Cahill of Nebraska Furniture Mart. He recently held the company's first active shooter training.

Cahill uses material from the Department of Homeland Security. It's a somewhat morbid video where actors try to survive a workplace shooter.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield recently held a seminar for managers with a presentation from the Omaha Police Department. "Even something everyone should have in his pocket, a pen, you can use those as a weapon against this individual," said the officer.

The steps laid out for employees are simple:

First, run. "If you can get out of a facility and get away from it, great then you've accomplished everything," said Cahill.

Second, hide. "You want to get in an office somewhere and if at all possible, block the door with everything you can think of and be quiet," Cahill added.

It's also important to turn off cell phones. If hiding and a cell phone goes off, it could draw in the shooter and make the person a target.

The last step, if neither of the first two are successful, is to fight back. "You had better start thinking about what you're going to do, whether that's picking up a chair, whether that's with yourself and three other people jumping that person," said Cahill. "Do something to fight for your life."

Saving lives, your own included, is what's most important. It's training we've come to understand that could be needed when we least expect it. "I think it's vital, I think it's very important, anything that could happen, is likely to happen," said Wilson.

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