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Our Role in the Active Killer Incident

It was a busy Christmas time for the family and me.  Despite the usual gift buying trips to stores and malls, we attended quite a few parties and large social gatherings.  In addition, my youngest Daughter graduated from university, my 12 year old Grandson sang in a “Winter Fest” choir presentation and my 3 year old Granddaughter performed Christmas carols with the rest of her class as well as the four and five year olds at the Church where she attends pre-school.

I enjoyed myself at every event and I was armed and on-guard the entire time.  In the large arena where my youngest received her B.A., I scouted the entrances/exits sat in a location which provided good movement/cover opportunities and anticipated the worse.  During the middle school choir performance of my Grandson I listened attentively to voices both in and out of tune, smiled a lot and anticipated gunfire.  My sweet and vociferous three year old Granddaughter and the rest of her class brought tremendous joy to this crusty old heart with their songs as I sat in a pew ready to respond should very bad things happen.

All of the events were attended with either a Glock 19 in a Garage Works Holster belt scabbard of my own design and two spare mags stoked with 9mm Speer Gold Dot or a DoubleStar 1911 carried in a Crossbreed inside the belt holster with two Wilson Combat mags topped off with 230 grain Remington hollow-points on the opposite side.

No, I’m not paranoid.  Nothing happened and no, I did not move through the venues like John Belushi in Animal House.

But I think we can all agree that being LEO’s we’ve lost the “privilege” to be ignorant of the risks of the spree killer and we understand that one on or off-duty LEO can make a difference.

The Facts

The heck with the emotions – they do no good when bad things are perpetrated by evil people with no previous contacts with LE.  I won’t discuss carbines or 30 round service magazines.  Any bans would have zero impact on future spree killers.  Despite the prevalence of CCW permits, or maybe as a consequence of, violent crime continues to go down (except for gun free zones?). 

We know that on-duty, off-duty or former police officers have stopped spree killers at:



Nightclubs (Columbus, Ohio)

James Niggemeyer

Churches (New Life Church)

Jeanne Assam

Malls (Trolley Square Mall)

Kenneth Hammond

Schools (Appalachian School of Law)

Mikael Gross, Tracey Bridges

Nursing Homes (Carthage, NC Nursing Home)

Justin Garner

Movie Theatres (San Antonio, TX)

Lisa Castellano


There are more incidents of armed men and women stopping the active killer and although these types of attacks are infrequent we must prepare, plan and be ever vigilant while attending gatherings of large people or when responding to shots fired calls.


Take the time during your tour of duty to visit those schools, malls or other locations where a spree killer might attack.  Learn the layout of the locations.  Identify avenues of approach and solid pieces of cover you, or the suspect, might use.  As you visualize your response understand that these events are dynamic in nature and chaotic.  Pandemonium will reign supreme with people screaming and running, hiding everywhere and possible traumatic gunshot injuries.  Your job is to bypass those individuals in aggressive pursuit of the threat.

Skills necessary will be:

  • Smooth movement – not running which puts you into a problem before you can mentally assess the threat
  • Firearms skills – consider deploying with a police carbine for its increased accuracy potential and ballistic effects
  • Dynamic use of cover – why not use covers and safe angles as you move
  • Threat identification – it is entirely possible that off-duty police officers may be present as well as CCW permit holders
  • Trauma care – now is the time to obtain a small trauma kit and CAT – combat application tourniquet which can be carried in a BDU or rear trouser pocket.


It is now time to acknowledge that a five shot snub nosed revolver is insufficient off-duty armament.  I know it’s easier to carry and you can drop it in your pocket but when going up against a committed spree killer at the local high school basketball game who has probably armed himself with multiple firearms, it is simply not enough.  Carry a duty sized firearm off-duty with at least two spare reloads.  Once again, it is not paranoia when the threat really exists.

As you take your seat at the game, concert or other event, take the time to reconnoiter the area.  Entrances, exits, solid pieces of cover as well as a quick plan of what you might do.  Certainly the threat will begin from the entrance as most spree killers arrive and attack they don’t sit patiently and then assault.

Also be cognizant that on-duty LEO’s will be responding and the danger of fratricide really does exist.  Badges should be displayed if possible and verbal shouts of “Police Officer!” repeatedly made.

If the shooting is over and it is possible, re-holster and get your badge out.  Expect to be treated like a suspect, including proned out and handcuffed, until your identity is confirmed.

Have you had a conversation with your family members about what they should do?  If they are with you at the time of the incident, they should move away from you as you will be attracting gunfire from the suspect.  Their role is to exit and communicate the threat and your identity to police.  If they are not with you they should run away from the sight of a man with a gun as well as the sounds of the gunfire.  Hunkering down or hiding is a poor choice and should only be done when running away is not possible.  Departing the scene is best tactical option for unarmed civilians.


These violent cowards do not want to go out in a blaze of glory and will frequently commit suicide when confronted by armed police or citizens.  That’s okay by me, whether we shoot them or they shoot themselves, game over.

The suspect by virtue of his attack has thrust you headlong into this maelstrom of violence.  Your job is to aggressively end it.