I was recently talking to a fellow shooter and he told me what he thought of a recent shooting that resulted in a murder locally. He thought the victim should have practicing their ABC’s and this may have ended differently. I was surprised by this and asked what the heck the alphabet had to do with the event. He laughed and said “Oh, guess I have not spoken with you in a while. I came up with the ABC’s.” So I bit, not really knowing what his ABC’s were going to be. I told him to explain them. He says “I’m surprised you did not come up with it first – Always Be Carrying.”
The suspect was a 38 year-old male who recently had two protection orders filed against him by his mother and girlfriend after he was arrested for an assault on his current girlfriend. After the incident it was revealed he had another twelve to fourteen protection orders filed against him in the past by various people, including ex-girlfriends, ex-wives.
On the day this occurred he went to the day care where his children were and took them from the woman who was the day care provider, at gun point and tied her up with zip ties and left. When he arrived at the current girlfriend’s employer’s parking lot, his girlfriend’s boss saw him in the parking lot with the children as she was leaving in her car. At this point the she calls inside the business and warns the employees, as she is aware of the protection order her employee has taken out against the suspect. She then pulls up to the suspect and confronts him, no one knows what was said but we do know he used his handgun to fire one round striking the victim in the head killing her instantly. The suspect then entered the business and fired one round grazing another female employee in the leg. He then used zip ties to tie everyone up. About twenty minutes later, for some unknown reason, he let everyone go including his girlfriend and children. It is not clear how long the suspect was inside alone, but while he was inside he used the handgun to end his own life.
Before I go any further, this woman as a hero. She did every thing she could to protect her employee from this suspect. It is saddening that her actions resulted in her death. She showed true courage by facing a person she knew to be dangerous and capable of violence against other people in her efforts to protect her employee.
When looking at the situation it is important to remember “Mental Preparation”. If you are not practicing this first step, you may end up in a bad situation with limited good choices available once you realize you’re in the thick of it so to speak. Many people have written about levels of awareness. I have found the NRA’s method to be the best and easiest to remember:
- UNAWARE – A state where a person is unaware and not alert to the immediate environment.
- AWARE – A state where a person is aware of their surroundings and what people are doing around them.
- ALERT – A state where a person has identified a specific or potential threats or threats.
- ALARM – A state where the threat you have identified in the ALERT stage, has now become a real threat to your own safety.
After we address these four levels of awareness you need to have a PERSONAL SAFETY PLAN.
A personal safety plan is one designed by you for you based on your hypothetical plan of action to respond to a threat. This plan will enable you to act quicker than be in a state of reaction to a possible threat. The plan may consist of avoiding the situation, fleeing the area and or the situation, issuing verbal warnings to the possible assailant(s), calling law enforcement, other options, or as a last resort even the use of deadly force. You must make the plan flexible enough that it allows you alternatives in the event the situation has changed. It is important to remember your plan does not have to involve the use of force if it is some thing you are not comfortable with doing.
During my career as a law enforcement officer I had experiences where I dealt with domestic violence situations. The victims of these crimes were typically women of varying ages. Most of them could or would move, or go stay with family, change their email addresses, and phone numbers, and even avoid mutual friends they had with the suspect. When I was talking to the victims I would advise them they did have the option to seek an order of protection from the court, some did seek a protection order while others did not. The one thing typically none of these victims ever changed was Daycare providers and Employers. All of them would inform their daycare providers and employers.
Now when considering your personal safety plan, you should also know what to expect of the places you may be if something does happen. Do they have a safety plan? Where can we possibly be that we need to consider this? Well it could be your church, daycare provider, employer, school, medical provider (local clinic, doctor’s office, nursing home, hospital), local gym. In each of these places you should still have your own plan, but you should know what their plan is in the event something happens. Many of these places are required to have safety plans in place.
Most people probably do not realize every employer has a duty to protect their employees.
“OSHA’s occupational safety laws require companies to maintain a safe workplace, which embraces safety from violence”.
So once you learn what the safety plan is, you need to incorporate it with your own personal safety plan.
While many of us will incorporate the ABC’s into our safety plan, it is important to remember there maybe times and places the ABC’s will not be available to you. Having a multilayered safety plan will help you compensate for events where you will not have the ABC option.
One of the best resources available to people seeking training on how to develop their personal safety plan is through the NRA and its courses such as: Refuse To Be A Victim® Seminars, NRA Basic Personal Protection In The Home, or NRA Basics of Personal Protection Outside The Home Courses. To find a course in your area click here.