What to do when a gunman is on the loose

Free training imparts survival skills

Littleton Police Chief Doug Stephens and Mickey Kempf present a free class on what to do should you ever find yourself in an active-shooter situation. Photo by Jennifer Smith
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Columbine. Aurora. Arapahoe High School. Platte Canyon High School.

The number of active-shooter cases in the United States has tripled since 2008, averaging 15 a year now, and it seems like the south-metro area has faced more than its fair share. So Mickey Kempf, coordinator of the local Community Emergency Response Team, and Littleton Police Chief Doug Stephens have teamed up to help people know what to do should they find themselves in such a dire situation.

“Understand this is not a program that we are excited and enthused about rolling out, rather it's a program that needs to be presented to help people protect themselves and be prepared for what can and potentially will happen someday,” said Kempf.

It's actually pretty simple: If you can run, run. If you can't run, hide. If he finds you, fight hard and fight dirty.

“When it goes down is not the time to try to figure it out,” said Stephens on June 19, during the free training session at the Littleton Center. “It's going to happen, so plan for it. It will happen here. It will happen here again.”

If you're there when it does, get out. Don't grab your purse, don't call 911, don't stop to help anyone who might be wounded. Encourage others to run with you, but don't let them slow you down. And don't look like the bad guy as you're running outside, where the police might already be waiting.

“You can't help if you're another casualty,” said Stephens.

Once you're out, get to a safe place and call police. Try to speak calmly, and make sure to say there's an active shooter.

“If you say someone's been shot, you'll probably get five cars,” said Stephens. “If you say there's an active shooter, you're going to get 105 cars.”

If it's not safe to get out, take cover. Lock the door and barricade it with whatever's available — desks, chairs, the copy machine. Get behind something that can block bullets, and look for anything that will work as a weapon — a fire extinguisher, scissors, even a chair.

“You need to buy three minutes,” said Stephens. “You know we're coming, and we're all coming, and it's going to end when we get there, one way or another.”

According to a study by police psychologist John Nicoletti, 49 percent of active shootings end with the suspect's suicide. Thirty-four percent are arrested, and 17 percent are killed by police. The average time it takes for police to arrive on scene is three minutes.

“That is wicked fast for law enforcement,” said Stephens.

Above all, said Stephens, be determined to live.

“Develop a warrior's mindset,” he said. “I will win no matter what.”

For information on upcoming training sessions, contact Kempf at 303-795-1323 or mickey@bradfordauto.com.