Omaha FBI sees increase in local active shooter training requests amid rise in mass shootings nationwide

WOWT 6 News 10 p.m. Sunday newscast
Published: May. 29, 2023 at 5:45 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Already in 2023, there have been more than two dozen major mass shootings across the United States. Omaha’s FBI field office says this may be one of the reasons why there’s been a jump in interest in active shooter trainings around the metro.

“You never know when this could happen,” says Gene Kowel, the Special Agent in Charge for Omaha’s FBI field office.

It’s an unfortunate reality we all face - the possibility of being caught in an active shooting situation.

“If you’re at church, school, a shopping mall, or sporting event, be very aware of where threats could come from, where the exits are, where are places your could barricade yourself and stay safe, even if there are things around you you could use if you had to fight the attacker,” Kowel adds.

The threat of active shootings is something that local and federal law enforcement agencies investigate and mitigate constantly.

“We receive threat reports I would say daily, it’s a very frequent occurrence. Sometimes they’re very detailed, sometimes they’re not as detailed, sometimes there’s actionable information we can follow up on, sometimes it takes us more work to attribute where the source came from or where the threat came from.”

Kowel says active shooting attacks are now more often happening in places where people are entitled to have a sense of safety - like schools, houses of worship, malls, and more.

Despite this, the FBI reminds community members that it is possible to be prepared if you find yourself in an active or mass shooting event.

The federal agency still suggests three main tactics for surviving these events: run, hide, fight.

The first thing you should do, Kowel says, is try to run.

“Separate yourself from the incident with time and distance.”

The FBI breaks down the steps in a realistic training video.

If you can’t run, the next tactic is to hide and barricade yourself in a secure place. If this option isn’t possible - the last option is to fight.

The number three thing people can do, which has worked and we’ve seen success [with], is to work to disable the attacker,” Kowel says. “That comes with risks, but it also comes with rewards if you’re able to successfully do this.”

As tragic mass shooting events continue to occur, Kowel says their active shooter training sessions have seen an increase in interest.

“So far in the Omaha, area we’ve offered three different active shooter response and awareness and preparedness sessions each one is, we’ve invited hundreds of representatives.”

Kowel says the majority of requests for training come from houses of worship, but that the two-and-a-half-hour trainings are for everyone.

“When I meet with community groups, corporations, and businesses in the area, this is the number one question I get, is how can we help prepare their group, their employees for this kind of event should it occur. And, the more training we provide in the area, the more requests we get.”

6 News got a look at that active shooter training session back in March of 2022 at the Omaha Jewish Community Center.

“Some of the session is devoted to threat awareness and where threats come from, and half the session is devoted to how you can take action, how you can hide, run, fight, and how you can render first aid to yourselves or other people,” Kowel adds.

In a real-life event, Kowel says this training or any kind of preparedness could be the difference between life and death.

Kowel also offers advice.

“The most important thing I’d actually say would become before an incident. If you see something you think is a threat, you’re concerned about someone’s behavior, call us.”

Omaha’s FBI Field office offers several resources for active shooter training and crisis action plans:

FBI: Active Shooter Event Quick Reference Guide

Video: Run. Hide. Fight.

Video: Echoes of Columbine.

Video: In the Aftermath.

FEMA: Crisis & Preparedness plans.

FBI: Victim Assistance & Services.

The FBI Omaha field office (24-hour line) is 402-493-8688.

The community is welcome to join the Omaha FBI for the next active shooter training session:

When: Saturday, September 23, 2023 from 9:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Where: Clair Memorial United Methodist Church at 5544 Ames Ave.

To sign up, send an email to OM.CommunityOutreach@FBI.GOV and include:

  • Name of your house of worship, company or non-profit
  • Name/title of attendee(s)
  • Contact information for attendee(s)