ASR Part 6: Laidlaw Transit Services Maintenance Yard
It was dawn on the Monday morning after Spring Break. Children were gathering at the bus stops, most likely begrudging the fact that they had to go back to school. Meanwhile, at the bus maintenance yard (Laidlaw), bus drivers prepared to run their routes to pick up their less than eager students. A woman walked into the bus yard and began shooting. She shot and killed one colleague- a man- before proceeding to shoot three more female colleagues. None of these wounds were fatal, thankfully. Police later found these women hiding in back rooms. Another colleague was able to convince the shooter to drop the gun and restrained her until the police arrived. As per the usual, no one expected it. Everyone thought she was a nice person, and they could not imagine what went through her head that caused her to go on a rampage.
This incident was a strange one. First of all, the shooter was a woman. No, this is not a sexist comment. Statistics show that between 1982 and November 2018, 103 of 106 active shooters were male. This is a rare exception. Secondly, she was clearly in an extreme emotional state, because a colleague was able to talk her into dropping the gun. Most active shooter events are cold-blooded and talking to the shooter will just make you the next victim.
While it is a unique case, there are several things we can learn from this incident based on Run, Hide, Fight.
Run- Los Angeles Times reported that when people heard the gunshots, they fled the building. Good response. Although it was not entirely clear whether the wounded women were shot intentionally or while fleeing, they also ran to a back room and hid themselves. Being wounded made hiding their best option, since running would have been obviously more difficult. Running AWAY from the shooter is always the best option.
Hide- And here, we cite the wounded women again. The three women went into a back room, again, moving away from the shooter, to hide. This was the best option given their condition. The sources were unclear whether others, who were not wounded, decided to hide. The women had somehow barricaded the office door. Again, this was good practice.
Fight- This fight seemed calmer than some of the others we have studied. Do not let that deceive you. A shooter with a gun is extremely dangerous, and the odds that he or she will drop the gun and allow themselves to be restrained are not in your favor. This colleague fought gently. However, the danger in using that approach is evident. The fight is about disarming and restraining the shooter, however that is to be done. LA Times called this man a hero. There were more than 30 people at the location at the time of the shooting, and he put a stop to the shooting.
Here’s the thing about the Fight response- it will always be dangerous. There are stories of hero after hero in shooting after shooting who put other people’s lives above his or her own. Fighting the shooter may not be the safe answer for you, but it may save dozens of lives.
I pray that I will never be in a situation to have to use these techniques. I pray that this is a bank of knowledge that never ever has to be used. But, if the time comes, I feel I am prepared to survive. Why? Because I have taken my mind to that place that I pray my body never has to go. I have sat in restaurants and classrooms and walked through parking lots and grocery stores analyzing the strategies I would need to use to survive if an active shooter walked through the door. These are not pleasant thoughts, and I know that you, our readers, may have tired of the semi-weekly reminders that the world is not all rainbows and sunshine. But trust me…if you are ever in an active shooter situation, you will be so glad you were prepared.
*FBI active shooter incidents report 2000-2017- https://www.fbi.gov/file-repository/active-shooter-incidents-2000-2017.pdf/view