Cabot Police Teach Citizens How to Survive Active Shooter Scenarios

CABOT, Ark. - Active shooting events are becoming so common that people across the U.S. are getting accustomed to hearing about them.

Since 2000, the number of mass shootings has grown from six every year to one every two weeks, and regular people are the most important part of the scene. 

That's two of the countless things the Cabot Police Department teaches its students in the free, two-hour Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events (CRASE) class. 

Since Cabot started offering this course last week, two mass shootings have rocked the country: one at a Colorado Walmart and the other at a Texas church.

"I would just like to be prepared because it's unpredictable," said Mollee Steely, a CRASE student. 

Steely is the daughter of Cabot's Criminal Investigation Division captain. She didn't learn about active shooter events Thursday night for her dad but for herself. 

"I actually saw on their Facebook page yesterday that they had some open seats in the class," she said. "With me being a college student and going to a university, I thought it would be a good idea to attend."

Steely was just a kid during the Columbine High School massacre. She's lived through hundreds of mass shootings since, including some very close to home like the one at Westside Middle School. 

"That's Jonesboro, guys," Lt. Tommy Thompson told his class. "That's about an hour up the road."

"My niece was the first one out the door," one of his students chimed in. 

"Was she really?"

"She was the first one shot."

"I'm sorry to hear that." 

He and his 30 classmates learned how to diffuse an active shooter event without a gun.

"We really need to think about what we need to do before we're put into a situation like this," Thompson said. 

Lt. Thompson, who leads SWAT missions for Cabot police, taught them the program based on the Avoid, Deny and Defend (ADD) method, where he said the most lethal weapon is panic.

"Thirty seconds before we get to a SWAT call, I tell my guys breathe in for three seconds, hold it for three seconds and release it for three seconds," he said. 

Lt. Thompson's class watched different active shooter scenarios to see how to fight back as much as possible until police arrive, which takes about three minutes on average.

"What you see in a lot of these cases is once there's nothing to shoot, they have the tendency to shoot themselves," he said. 

Lt. Thompson also outlined the average suspect in these situations: 96 percent are men and the most powerful weapon they typically use is a pistol. They have an avenger mindset, and most broadcast their intentions on social media. 

The most active shooter events have actually happened at businesses, followed by schools. The youngest suspect was eight years old while the oldest was 88. 

Fifty-five percent of attacks end pre-police, with victims stopping them 18 percent of the time.

"Don't live in denial," Thompson said. "This could happen anywhere." 

Steely plans to apply all of this new knowledge to her criminal justice degree.

"I've grown up in a law enforcement family," she said. "It was just second nature for me."

That's how the CRASE training should be so potential victims are always ready. 

Steely also plans to get her concealed carry permit, which came up during the class. 

Lt. Thompson referred to the Colorado Walmart shooting, where the few license holders on scene added to the confusion for police. He said the best thing to do when police show up is to put the gun down, since they are trained to first look at hands to eliminate any threats.  

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