Active Shooter

Yesterday was the weekly intelligence briefing with all of the alphabet agencies. Thou our primary focus is the spread of ISIS in Afghanistan, naturally the talk started to center around the Paris attacks and how “we” would have handled it differently, etc. Follow up conversations were about targets in the United States and this brings me to my post.

With the holiday season starting this week, it has always been my fear that “Black Friday” would be the the perfect killing ground. Masses of people all going to the malls and shopping areas, no need to find a bar or sporting event, just find a place to park, and walk into the Mall of America, the Dallas Galleria, or Lenox Mall in Atlanta, or, any other mall in your area. Perfect killing zone with masses of targets.

As I have said many times, you are responsible for the safety and protection of your loved ones. Have a plan on everything you do and everywhere you go. As Irish said in a post earlier this week, situational awareness is the key to surviving. I am going to post a couple of links. The first is a basic story on how the US agencies are training for active shooters, like all media stories it doesn’t contain anything substantial, but, use it to formulate your own plan, in case you are caught in a active shooter situation.

The second is a link to a situational awareness thread that contains good
information. Review your plan before going anywhere where crowds will be large , don’t think it could happen to “someone else”. Our brothers and sisters in Paris and Belgium would tell you different. Enjoy the holidays but realize what can happen. I wish everyone here a safe and happy Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Great thread idea soul brotha.

The idea of a Black Friday/Holiday-shopping-season attack is something of a concern for me - North Jersey is, after all, the land of malls, and we’ve already had an incident or two where a gun-toting jerkoff was walking around firing shots off.

I got a question though. Let’s say I was to get caught in that situation: walking around a crowded mall with my girlfriend, or at the tree at Rock Center in NYC or something, and I abruptly hear an explosion, gunshots, and whole lot of yelling and running … what actions do I take? How do I ensure that I get me and her to safety, no matter what, in a totally-fluid and completely FUBARed situation where things like the type of attack, number of attackers, etc. are all unknown?

I appreciate it man.


Although I don’t intend to answer for Idaho, I have given the same question considerable thought due to my line of work, etc. Also, I have a wife and very young son to think about in these situations. Here is what I have come up with. Feel free to use / discard / disagree / debate. I want to discuss options with people that I may not have thought of.

  1. Look for exits through the backs of stores. My theory here is that people are going to be running like stampeding cattle down the main hallways. That’s a good way to get a child run over and killed. My thought is to push into the closest open store, and drive straight to the back. Every mall I have ever seen has employee exits leading into unseen hallways intended solely for mall personnel. These, in turn, lead to exterior exits. Get out, and keep running until you find cover elsewhere.

  2. If that isn’t an option, move for the nearest large exit that is away from the sound of the explosion / gunfire / screaming. Be prepared to deal with a crowd at these exits, though. And remember to stay low.

  3. I am NOT an advocate of finding a place to hide and staying still. I know there are theories behind it…I just don’t agree with them. In my experience, movement saves your life in a case like this.

  4. Unless you are forced to do so, don’t engage attackers. If you carry a concealed weapon, realize that using it is going to draw attention to you. This isn’t a big deal in the case of some loner a-hole with a pistol. In the case of a legit terrorist attack, you may draw a whole lot of automatic fire your way.

  5. If you don’t carry a weapon, you may want to grab something reasonably solid to use as a cudgel or thrown weapon (i.e; a fire extinguisher). If forced into a confrontation, it can be use to crush someone’s skull, or alternatively you can throw it at their face as you move in. Cause a flinch response, get in close, THEN bash the skull in.

  6. Strip bad guys’ bodies of exterior weapon systems. In other words, take their guns and ammo. However, use them only to get to safety, then ditch the weapons. You don’t want to get mistaken for a bad guy by arriving police. Get out of the building and then get rid of the guns. Don’t dick around with explosives or grenades unless you have training with them.

I don’t know what else to add at this point. I would definitely like to hear other opinions and options, though.

Good topic, unfortunately.

I would add one thing off the top of my head that’s a bit counterintuitive. Don’t hug walls. Bullets striking hard surfaces tend to continue travelling in roughly the same direction, 6-8" off the surface.

Also, I understand that lateral movement makes for a harder target than running directly towards or away from the shooter. As always, cover is your friend. Getting the hell out of dodge is your best friend. Liking mapwhap’s theory about the service exits/halls.

Speaking for myself, as a Canadian, CCW/shooting back is moot. Any weapons would be edged/improvised.

Stay dangerous. Be safe.

Terrorists and spree shooters would be aiming at the biggest crowd in order to inflict maximum casualties, so splitting off from the main stampede is probably a good idea. This puts you in the open, but even if you’re seen you may not be worth it to pursue.

Excellent advise from Mapwrap and I would encourage everyone to follow his suggestions. Some thoughts:

Disclaimer: Some of these suggestions will probably be read as paranoid, well, I am a little paranoid and twitchy, but, I came by it honestly:))

Note: I am going to use the word “spouse” to incorporate all relationships. “Families” can mean any group of individuals you are responsible for.

  1. Know who you are with:

It is one thing to attend a social gathering, go to a ballgame, or peruse the malls with individuals who are trained for violence (military, LEO, PSD, corporate security) and quite another to be with people who only have experienced violence through video games. Realize they will have no situational awareness, nor, the training to help you survive an attack. Realize that developing even a simple tactical plan will be met with skepticism and any attempt to make them understand will probably be futile.

Do the best you can, but, have your own plan for survival, don’t let well-meaning civilians comprise your strategy. On the other spectrum, being with someone who is trained and especially armed, is a real bonus and simple plans can be made driving to the venue. Just establish who will do what, who is the driver, who is the primary shooter, who is responsible for locating exit locations, while the other or others provide protection, etc.


Being alone during an attack and your response will basically come down to the fight or flight reflex. IMHO, what you will do, will be based on your psychological mindset, your training, your experience with violence, your profession. Be honest with yourself and your abilities to combat violence, experience has taught me that men have a tendency to overestimate their combat abilities and usually just die on the scene. I don’t know what yours are, but, decide what you are going to do, before you arrive at the venue. In the middle of the attack is no time to be making the decision.

  1. Family:

Unless you are trapped and facing death, this decision is already made for you. You must get your family off the “X”? and out of the primary attack zone. There should be no attempt at heroics when the ones you love are counting on you to provide leadership. As Mapwrap already discussed, know what you are going to do, where to take the family, running to the nearest store in a mall and finding the back door is excellent advice.

Often, terrorists on a major attack will place shooters at the main exits and kill as many as they can as they run out. Know where all the exits are, take the time to drive or walk around your venue, learn where the exit doors are, where the service entrances are, where the security kiosks or police substations are, where the exit roads are, where are the bottlenecks that a VBIED could be parked.

Spouse and Children:

As much as I would like to assume your spouse is highly trained (man or woman) the odds are they are not, so, it is up to you to develop a basic plan. Have a quiet, serious talk and go over some basic strategy, Outline the need to be situationally aware, inform them what can happen and stress that they are also responsible for helping survive an attack. I know its common for families to go shopping and split up, each going to their own preferred venue, but, during the holidays, that is a major tactical mistake.

You don’t want to have some family member on one end of the mall and you on the other, if an attack occurs. Stay together, stay close. If you have children with you, one of you must be the primary protector, it is simply too distracting to watch the kids and scan for an attack at the same time.

Having small children is a dynamic all its own, I know. I once was part of a team that was providing security for a Coca-Cola executive and his family below the border and trying to run with a screaming 4 year old under your arm and returning fire with one hand is for the movies. Decide who carries the child and who looks for exits, who will take point, and who will not. Your spouse must recognize the threat and be able to function in a terrifying situation. Teach basic commands in a loud voice. Get the kids, get Tommy, grab my belt, run to the back of the store, etc.

Simple commands, they work, because they are simple. Have a shopping schedule and stick to it. Know the stores you want to visit, go there, do what you need to do and then leave. Try to arrange for visits during non-peak times. When the mall first opens at 1000 is much safer than 1900, remember terrorists use the maximum amount of destruction for the maximum amount of media coverage. I occasionally have to go to the Afghan government palace and I don’t go there after 1400, which is prime hit time here.

  1. Attack Dynamics:

Talk to your spouse about a possible attack and the ramifications of being caught up in the situation. The noise will be loud, especially if they detonate a suicide vest first to soften up the guards/resistance or create mass panic which leads to easy targets. Try to make your spouse understand that people will be screaming and dying, and, if they have never experienced this type of violence, will probably go catatonic. This is a natural reaction that you must stop immediately, either by verbal commands or simply slapping the shit out of them.

You must get off the kill zone, you must survive or the kids will die. Try to convey how bad the panic will be and stress how important it is to follow your pre- discussed plan and how you need to hyper focus on leaving by a safe exit, even to the point of running by people crying for help. You and the spouse have a family and nothing else matters. Harsh, I know, but there is a reason we leave a wounded member in a door way, it’s because we have to kill the threat, or, others will die. There is a reason you are leaving, so your family will live.

  1. Vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (VBIED):

Almost all major attacks start with some type of VBIED, especially if the goal is a major venue. I have been around them for the past 9 years and I am totally paranoid about vehicles. I have certain rules about parking lots around large retail outlets and malls. I always park as far away from the main entrance as I can, yes, your family will bitch about the extra walking, but, car bombs are not placed where they do the least damage. Would you rather have your family walk a little or park close to an entrance and die from an explosion? Remember, terrorists don’t park anywhere but out front, so, even if they are not using a car bomb , when they exit the vehicle they are already shooting. I would think you would rather see that from a distance.

If it can be avoided, I never walk between parked vehicles, especially in front of large venues. In fact, I will often circle a parking lot just to avoid being between parking lanes. Humans are creatures of habits and terrorists know this, they know you will walk to shortest distance to the market or entrance to a venue. One terrorist with a pair of binoculars and a cell phone can detonate a car bomb at any time. Don’t be stupid and lazy, take the long way around, if possible.

  1. Vehicles:

Thou any vehicle can be used as a VBIED, I am paranoid about certain vehicles: Toyota Camry’s, brown or gray in color and made in the 1990’s (the all-time favorite), small white pickup trucks, like the Hillux and especially avoid large garbage and cement mixer trucks, which can carry enough explosives to level a small mountain. I was in the wrong place when they blew the t-walls surrounding the old Baghdad hotel using a cement mixer truck, outside static security died instantly and then the ground forces moved in. You see any of these vehicles parked near an entrance to a venue or driving toward one, stay the hell away until they prove what they are.

  1. Motorcycles:

A quick word about motorcycles. In both Baghdad and Islamabad, I have had experiences with terrorists using motorcycles to drive up to a vehicle and detonate a bomb carried in a backpack or pull up in front to some cafe, Embassy entrance, military checkpoint, etc. and either detonate or open fire with an AK. It makes me extremely twitchy to have some biker in the US pull up in the lane next to me, and never trust someone who pulls a motorcycle up to a venue entrance wearing a backpack or a large coat, never know if they are there to detonate. Vacate the area until their intentions are known.

  1. Weapons and Equipment:

I agree with Mapwrap about not engaging the attackers, even, if you are armed, unless you are simply trapped and going to die anyways. You will probably be armed with a handgun and they simply don’t match up against AK’s or M-4’s. A major assault will not be made with .22’s, so, you will be severely out gunned. And for those of you carrying, carry at least two extra magazines. Don’t bitch about your comfort, just remember, AK’S have 30 round magazines, you don’t.

Use your weapon to fight for an exit or fight to allow your family time to escape, not for offense. What you chose to carry is of course your decision, and based on what laws your state has on the books. I don’t know if ASP batons are legal in your state, but, they make a good striking weapon and are easily concealable. Walking around a mall, like Mapwrap said, look for improvised weapons, even, tennis rackets make a good club. IMHO, always carry a small powerful belt flashlight, knife (legal length) and a cigarette lighter. Trying to find a way out for your family during a power outage, smoke, or garage tunnels is hell without a light. The knife has many uses and the lighter has abilities to create all sorts of problems.

  1. Harsh Reality:

You need to discuss with your spouse the reality that your family may be close to a suicide bomber when they detonate. You will either live or die. If you live, you will have severe disorientation for several minutes and your hearing will be completely screwed. If possible, do not make any moves until your hearing clears (if it does) and wait until the dizziness fades enough for you to try to make a rational decision on which way to flee. Where there is one bomber, there are usually two. Talk to your spouse, acknowledge that one of you will probably die and the other one has the responsibilities to get the kids or themselves out. If they cannot handle this truth, then you have a real problem.

I am no means and expert on family relations or mall survival, just things I have experienced.

saw a intervue with a security consultant while back said he was amazed how many people during a drill he conducted,ran past exits and windows to exit the building.when asked why they past up exits and windows they stated i always use this exit

Idaho, you Sir I would buy a beer. Stay safe

After the hysteria from the main stream media dies down and credible information is obtained about the shooters, their tactics, and weapons, mentally place yourself on the scene. Think about situational awareness and what steps you would have taken to protect yourself and your family. Have a plan for every where you go and everything you do. Be safe. Stay sharp.

thoughts on this video

Thank you for posting the video. Just reaffirms most of the points made by the posters. It clearly demonstrates the need to remain calm, have an exit plan, use clear concise verbal commands, and most of all, take command of your own safety, don’t wait for someone else to assume the responsibility. This was made apparent by the couple in the food court.

Some personal thoughts: I would never sit with my back to the entrance to any establishment. When he entered the food court, he shot the first guy in the back, if a place has multiple entrances,take a few moments and survey you options, then decide where to sit. Always sit with a clear view of the exits and service doors.

Please for the love all Gods, don’t walk around public venues with your ear buds in and your head stuck 6 feet up your ass. Before he shot the guy on the bench, he had to yell at him first to get his attention. When I am in the States, it never ceases to amaze me the amount of people who are disconnected from their surroundings. How in the hell can you look for an attack or even be aware of what is happening if you are listening to music, texting, talking, or posting your latest selfie. If you need to do all that shit just to “stay connected” then what are doing in public anyway? Answer: You are a fucking moron.

Weapons: You decide what your options are for carrying firearms and make your own decisions on your personal safety. I am sick of gun control debates and decided a long time ago, what I was going to do. What was the common theme in all those shootings? Only the active shooter was armed. Don’t die on your knees.

Thanks again.

Idaho - thank you, brother. Useful information that’s not centered around gun, political, or ethical debate. Unfortunately, I have a very “feelings-centric” wife that would look at me like a crazy for bringing this kind of conversation up. However, I will attempt, and continue to do so over time. Hopefully seeing everything that’s happening over and over again will make her think twice. Moreover, I hope it doesn’t take an event “closer to home” for her to finally come to her senses on this kind of stuff.

Thanks man.


Flying through with limited web time at the moment. I’ve just had the chance to read this thread, and wanted to thank you quickly for all the potentially life saving wisdom you’ve shared here. We’re lucky to have a guy with your experience posting here, and we all benefit from it enormously.

Stay safe my friend.

Idaho -

I would like to add my thanks to you for sharing your wisdom on this unfortunately critical topic.

I have never posted in the Combat section but have lurked on it quite a bit. I appreciate all the information from you, MapWhap, fightinIrish, LondonBoxer, Sentoguy, RobertA and more.

My wife read this thread at my request and she was also impressed. We have always been supportive of citizens exercising their second amendment rights but we have not actually taken the actions that we should have ourselves. Now in the process of obtaining CCW’s for both my wife and I and practicing scenarios and skills. Thankfully we are no longer in the peoples republic of California so we can actually do this.

Thank you sir.

[quote]Captain Needa wrote:
Idaho -

I would like to add my thanks to you for sharing your wisdom on this unfortunately critical topic.

I have never posted in the Combat section but have lurked on it quite a bit. I appreciate all the information from you, MapWhap, fightinIrish, LondonBoxer, Sentoguy, RobertA and more.

My wife read this thread at my request and she was also impressed. We have always been supportive of citizens exercising their second amendment rights but we have not actually taken the actions that we should have ourselves. Now in the process of obtaining CCW’s for both my wife and I and practicing scenarios and skills. Thankfully we are no longer in the peoples republic of California so we can actually do this.

Thank you sir.

Scoots 2, HeyWajio, LondonBoxer–Thank you for the kind words.

Captain Needa,
Thank you. I have found the Combat Forum to contain members who are knowledgeable, professional, and always willing to help. If I can contribute in some way, and , it helps someone survive an attack, then that is all that matters. I have learned far more from the posters you named, than I have returned. Much respect to you and your wife for making the decision to assume responsibility for your own defense. In the future, don’t do any lurking, jump in and let us know about your decisions and preparations.

question ,responsibility,morals
training martial arts, military{just did my 3 got out, long time ago} nightclub doorman{part of my fight and people handling skills}
if i am with my family i will do what i need to to keep them safe

if i am at work or in a public place with out my family to what extent should i put my ass on the line for people who probably have their heads up their ass or never prepared for when things go fubar
this is a personal choice or opinion question [i think] or moral


I don’t really know that anyone can answer that for you. A lot of it depends on how much compassion you have for others, the specific circumstances, and a realistic assessment of your abilities.

From a legal standpoint, I don’t believe a civilian has a duty to act. From a personal standpoint, if I were a civilian and I could help rescue someone, then I would. Particularly if it was a child.

I don’t think there is a hard and fast set of rules or circumstances for a situation like that, though. Too many variables to take into account. Nobody is ever really going to be able to give you a “right” answer to this, because there isn’t one.

Your motivation for acting, if at all, would have to be internal. It’s what YOU believe is the right thing to do…not others.

from things i have done in the past i am pretty sure what i would do
i am looking more in line how people that read this thread would do
also looking for insight as to most people have the opportunity to plan for their own self preservation but choose not to, how far should you go to help those
example very obese person riding electric shopping cart in a store

[quote]cavemansam wrote:

example very obese person riding electric shopping cart in a store[/quote]

Stop briefly and let him know that the obesity epidemic is killing more Americans than terrorism ever could.

Okay…probably not the right time to tell him. But, at some point he needs to be told.


zeb i read what you wrote i was being slow,when i ran that through what little brain i got
i laughed my ass off