FBI offers class: What to do if you face an active shooter

FBI offers class: What to do if you face an active shooter

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Active shooters can happen anywhere, and in Wisconsin it’s happened at places including a mall, a casino and a salon.

On average, it takes law enforcement three minutes to get to an active shooter scene, which can seem like eternity when you’re there and lives are at stake.

So, the FBI is offering free classes to prepare you in case the unimaginable happens.

“These things can virtually happen anywhere,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Robert Botsch, with the FBI Milwaukee.

Active shooter incidents are on the rise across the country and right here in our state.

In 2019 there were 28 nationwide. The FBI is still compiling 2020 data, but they say the number will be higher.

“Obviously 2020 was an incredibly violent year across the country and we’ve seen unprecedented violent crime numbers,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Botsch.

“In Wisconsin in the past six months, we’ve already had four,” added FBI Special Agent Jay Darin.

The FBI is offering a class called the ‘Citizen Response to Active Shooter Events.’

“When I teach, I tell them they’re the first responders because really, we get there after the fact,” Special Agent Darin said. “Bad stuff’s already happened.”

Special Agent Darin teaches the free course to businesses, churches and community groups.

“We find that people who’ve not been trained either simply get down on the ground and do nothing or they often freeze and become a victim,” Special Agent Darin said.

Instead, he says people should remember the acronym ADD: Avoid, Deny, Defend. Avoid the shooter, run, find an exit. If you can’t, deny the shooter access by barricading yourself somewhere. As a last resort, defend yourself and fight back.

“We look at it as a responsibility that if, God forbid, something were to happen, we’ve done all we can,” said Jennifer Zuern, with Zuern Building Products & Design Center.

Eighty employees at Zuern Building Products took the class, and the goal is to get all 250 employees trained.

“It’s uneasy, it’s uncomfortable, but after you do the training and once you’re finished, it’s very -- it’s empowering,” Zuern said.

Special Agent Darin says the training gets people thinking about the worst case scenario before anything happens, because under stress, your mind and body shut down.

“We have a phrase we use: Your body will never go where your mind has never been,” Special Agent Darin said. “Know where your exits are, script or visualize, kind of visualize, man if something bad happens here, what am I going to do?”

The FBI also regularly trains law enforcement. It’s called the ALERRT Program: Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training.

“Their job is to get there as quickly as possible,” Special Agent Darin said. “It may be as a sole officer, they may be by themselves, but they still have to go because innocent civilians are being killed.”

The first officers on scene are trained to isolate, distract, necessary neutralize the shooter.

“We start with that first officer on scene and build all the way up to the chief or sheriff upon their arrival and then everywhere in between,” Special Agent Darin said.

More than 6,000 first responders in Wisconsin have gone through the ALERRT program. It helps to make sure all the agencies responding to a scene are trained the same way.

“You have almost instantaneous collaboration amongst the major law enforcement agencies in Wisconsin,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Botsch.

The training was key in response to the Molson-Coors and Mayfair Mall mass shootings last year.

“Our SWAT team assisted both the Milwaukee Police Department and the Wauwatosa Police Department with a tactical clear of both of those sites,” Assistant Special Agent in Charge Botsch said. “Both of them were humongous and took hours to be able to tactically clear, so no one agency has the resources to do that alone.”

FBI agents say with the increase in active shooter incidents, it’s more important than ever that first responders and the general public prepare, and training could save lives.

“We all left the training feeling a little more secure in coming to work and going out in the public,” Zuern said.

Zuern Building is going to offer two more classes for employees, their family and friends. They say it’s about making a safer community.

If you have a group you want trained by the FBI, a business, a church or community group, click here.

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