RELEI, North Carolina – A chaotic scene unfolded on Durham Street at North Carolina’s Southpoint Mall on Black Friday as shoppers were startled by gunfire and instinctively ran for the exit.
The mall was quickly evacuated by police, who said three people were injured, The News & Observer previously reported.
This is a scenario that no one wants to try, but there are ways to prepare for an active shooter situation, and it is important to know how to safely and correctly respond if you find yourself in such an event.
To learn more about how to react and respond if you hear gunfire in public, The N&O spoke with Mike Klampner, active shooting expert and president of Threat Suppression, a public safety education and consulting organization, with clients including the Department Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Duke University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Here’s what we learned.
Note. While it is important to be prepared for fearful situations and to consider how you will react, Klampner said, there is no need to live in constant fear. He said that you don’t need to “live under a rock,” but you can stay informed and prepared using these tips.
How to tell if you hear shots
If you are taking a casual or casual walk in a public place, such as a mall or grocery store, you might not expect to hear gunshots.
It can make people feel distrustful or distrustful if they hear loud noises in the area, Klampner said. Instead of thinking that you are hearing gunfire, you might think it is more “normal” everyday noise, such as the sound of a car shooting backwards or building noise.
“Always remember: we believe in what our eyes see, we partially trust what our nose sniffs, and we tend to distrust what our ears hear,” Klampner said.
“So when we hear something, we will often try – especially if it doesn’t fit into the norm – we try to justify it with what we expect to hear in the norm.”
People also often confuse the sound of gunshots with fireworks.
Here’s what to do if you think you hear gunshots.
“If you hear a noise that you think might be a gunfire, Klampner encourages people to quickly overcome their mistrust.
Klumpner said the average interaction time between an active shooter or attacker and their targets is around 20 seconds, leaving little time to figure out what the noise is, let alone decide what action to take or how to defend yourself.
“Take a deep breath immediately, and then start trying to figure out exactly what you need to do,” Klampner said.
“If you’re not sure what you’re hearing,” Klampner said, “it’s always best to run or leave.
“If you think you hear gunshots, or even if there is a fight in front of you, move. Leave. Get out of there, ”Klumpner said. “The safest thing you can do during these events is to leave the area.”
“While you might be interested in learning about noise or where it comes from — or even filming an incident — it’s not safe to run towards the noise.
“Don’t stay and try to figure out what’s going on,” said Klumpner.
“And if the noise does turn out to be something like a car explosion,” Klampner said, “at least you have taken steps to make sure you’re safe.”
“If it turns out that balloons popped up and you ran out the door, guess what? No harm, no foul. This is completely normal. It’s okay, ”said Klumpner. “Don’t wait for confirmation that you are in fact in the middle of a mass shootout or just a lone gunman.”
Be aware of your surroundings and be prepared
To be more confident about what loud noise is and whether there is a security threat around you, it is helpful to prepare and be aware of your surroundings. Klampner recommends:
– Before entering, scan the area outside of public areas. Klampner recommends looking around the outside and following your instincts about what might be going on inside.
“We always tell people: follow your instinct. If something tells you that it is not, it is probably wrong, ”said Klampner. “We can always go back and shop another day. You know, the Black Friday deal isn’t worth your life.
– Regularly review your surroundings when you find yourself inside. Even if nothing out of the ordinary is happening outside when you’re in a public place, Klampner recommends scanning your surroundings at least every 30 seconds to keep up to date with what’s going on around you. Look around and over both shoulders.
“It’s fast. It only takes two or three seconds, ”said Klampner. “It just reassures you that everything is okay.”
– Always know where the nearest exit is. Whether it’s an active shooter or another security threat like fire, it’s best to always be aware of exits around you so you can get out quickly if needed. Remember, sometimes the exit closest to you may be behind you.
– “Mental battle” for preparation. According to Klumpner, the easiest way to decide how to respond to an unsafe situation is to “mentally grab.” This means thinking through possible scenarios, such as an active shooter, and how you will react to regular, routine walks.
For example: If you are in a mall and have lunch at a food court, take a look around. What would you do if shooting started near you? Where could you go? What options would you have?
It’s also helpful to think about how your answer might differ depending on where you are, or what building or business you are in. Your answer in an open-air amphitheater with lots of open space and a few places to hide is likely to be different from your answer at the airport or even at the grocery store.
Thinking about scenarios in the ordinary or ordinary places you visit can help you prepare wherever you are.
“The more you mentally struggle with an event like this, the better you will get through it,” said Klampner.
Run, hide, fight
If you hear or suspect gunfire, you won’t have much time to react. It is helpful to recall the common saying about how to respond to active shooting situations: “run, hide, fight”.
– Run away or evacuate from the attacker or from the sound of shots. If possible, look for a way out. Note: Hundreds or thousands of people may also be running, depending on where the shooting is taking place and trampling is possible.
– Hide from the attacker. Klumpner recommends thinking of hiding more often as barricading yourself, making sure you are in an area out of sight or where bullets cannot hit.
For example: If you are in a clothing store, do not hide behind a clothes rack that can easily be hit by bullets. Hide behind something sturdy or, if possible, hide somewhere, such as a closet.
– Fight the criminal. If you are in close proximity to the attacker or if he points a weapon at you, you can fight him if necessary. If possible, it is best to attack them suddenly or with a group of people, Klumpner said.
While these answer options are sometimes viewed as a hierarchy, where running is the best option and fighting is the last resort, Klampner encourages people to view them as linear, instead thinking of them as options you can make based on your mobility, location. or proximity to the shooter and more.
For example: if you cannot run or it is unsafe for you, it is better to hide.
“You do what gives you the best opportunity to get through the worst day of your life,” said Klumpner.
– Also note that if you find yourself in an unsafe or active shooting situation in a mall or other type of store such as a grocery, it is helpful to listen to the store staff to know where to go and what to do.
They have probably been trained in how to respond to such events and will be able to guide you to safe hiding places or hidden exits in the store.
In addition to running, hiding and fighting, it’s important to alert emergency services to an unsafe situation by calling 911.
In the case of a shooting in the streets in Southpoint last week, Durham Police Department duty officers asked for help at a mall after hearing gunfire, but Klumpner urged people never to assume that someone else was calling 911.
“We never expect someone else to call because we want help to come,” Klampner said.
When you call emergency services, keep in mind:
– Try to call from a safe place. If you decide to escape from the shooting, call when you are far away. If you decide to hide, wait for the call until you find yourself in a safe, barricaded place.
– Give the operator as much details as possible. Describe where you are, what you saw and, if possible, what the attacker looks like.
– It may be difficult for you to get through. In an emergency, such as an active shooter, multiple people can call the emergency services at the same time, which can overload phone lines. Keep trying, but keep in mind that you’re “very likely,” said Klampner.