What to do if an armed intruder threatens your life
(4/30/07 - KTRK/HOUSTON) (KTRK) -- Whether at work or at school, it used to be that you needed to have a plan for just weather emergencies or fires. However, with recent shooting sprees at schools and work places, it now seems it makes sense to have a plan for armed intruders.
The following isn't fool-proof. The idea is to get you thinking.
Whether it's across the country or right here at home, school or work place shootings have been front and center.
"It could happen to you," said Sandy Wall, retired HPD SWAT officer. "It could happen to anyone."
Bad guys coming in, so you may want to know one thing.
"How to keep people out," he said.
We found an office full of women in southwest Houston and enlisted the help of Sandy.
"All I'm here to do is get you thinking," said Sandy.
He's a former HPD SWAT officer who now trains even FBI agents on facing active shooters.
"When he's beating on that door and your heart is pounding 150 beats per minute, you will not be able to reason," said Sandy.
When he was finished with them, they felt armed with knowledge that was empowering.
"It really makes you open your eyes," said one of our volunteers.
Here's the scenario -- a bad guy has already gotten into the building and he's looking for victims. What's the first thing you should do?
"Turn off the lights," said Sandy.
Sandy teaches the acronym ADD, the first being avoid the intruder. Turn off the lights. Hopefully he'll just move on.
If he doesn't, deny access. Reach for some handy tools, like a door stop. It's less than $3 at a hardware store. Everyone should have one at their desk. It could keep someone out. So can an eye bolt. Twist it in and it makes the door harder to breach.
If you have neither, furniture works as well.
"Anything he has to do to get to you makes it makes it more difficult, buys you time," said Sandy.
Meantime, know your exits. Don't get trapped without one. In the office we used for our story, there were two. Sandy suggests positioning yourself between both.
"If I hear him coming through this door, I escape this way," he said, motioning to the opposite door. "If I hear him coming through this door, I escape that way."
But what if he's already in the hallway and you're in your office?
"The avenue of escape is already compromised, so I've got to defend myself," said Sandy.
You do all the same things to try to deny him access -- shut the door, use the door stop, but he's still coming in. It's time to defend.
"Don't become a victim hiding under your desk waiting for your death," he said.
Instead, look around for anything that can be a weapon -- a piece of a filing cabinet, a stapler, even a pen and a wallet
"Nothing more than an ink pen in a wallet can pierce a human skull," said Sandy.
And the best time to attack him is when he's distracted.
"Attack him while he's coming through this door," said Sandy.
We were on the fourth floor, so Sandy discourages breaking any windows to escape, but at Virginia Tech, it worked. Sandy emphasizes what works in one scenario may not in another.
And for escape routes, the stairwell is often better than the elevator because you have options. The key, the ladies learned, is to have a plan.
"I'm sure we'll get a plan together," said another volunteer.
And remember 'ADD" -- avoid, deny and only when those don't work, defend.
"That person is taking the most precious thing you own and that's your own life," said Sandy. "Don't let him have it easy."
Remember, this plan isn't foolproof. The idea is to get you thinking. Sandy is not a security expert, just highly trained in dealing with active shooters.
(Copyright © 2007, KTRK-TV)
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