While a deadly school shooting has yet to occur at Winthrop, Frank Zebedis, Chief of Police for the university, delivered a presentation to students in an effort to prepare the campus community on how to take action if this were to happen.
The presentation, entitled “Surviving When Your Campus Comes Under Attack” taught attendees the six responses to survive an active shooter. In chronological order, the six responses taught were “get out,” “call out,” “hide out,” “help out,” “keep out,” and “take out.”
“Most active shooter’s classes are designed for the police officer,” Zebedis said.
This particular class, however, was designed for the individuals who are not usually trained to to handle such situations.
Zebedis, who has been a police officer for 28 years and chief of police at Winthrop for 15 years, defines an active shooter as being a suspect whose activity is immediately causing death or serious bodily injury. “The activity is not contained and there is immediate risk of continuing death or serious injury to potential victims,” stated the PowerPoint which supplemented Zebedis’ presentation.
According to the presentation, an active shooter can possibly fit the profile of having a “lone wolf personality” and is often feels alienated, bullied, persecuted and blames other for his or her problems. This individual may interact very little with police or mental health providers and “fear detection unless there is a suicide component to their plan.” It was discussed in the presentation that active shooters usually commit their acts in locations with a high volume of people and little police presence.
“We don’t know what one may look like, “ Zebedis said.
Hostage situations, more often than not, end positively, Zebedis explained. He said in an active shooter situation, that is not necessarily the case. The deadliest school shootings in the United States since 1992 has been at Columbine and Sandy Hook. The average active shooter is college aged.
In the event that an active shooter ever were to open fire on Winthrop’s campus, Zebedis explained that the first object of the responding unit is to “neutralize the subject.”
“They will utilize the force necessary to stop that individual,” he said.
The next task of the responding unit is the protect the lives of the people there and in the area.
“Cops do danger, that’s our business bur we can do it safely,” Zebedis said. “Sacrifice few to save many. That’s the active shooter response protocol.”
If the victim of a shooting attempts to flee from the situation, it is encouraged that it is done safely and an escape route and plan is in mind. As stated in the presentation, it is best to leave belongings behind and keep others from entering the area.
“After you get out, call out,” Zebedis said. “Call campus police or 911. Don’t wait for the next person to call.”
The third thing that should be done is “hide out.” It is best to silence cell phones, Zebedis said.
“Make him keep going and think no one else is there,” he said.
After getting out, calling out and hiding out, the chief told students that the next step one should do is “help out.” Students should try to identify students in the classroom or area that may need assistance and help them out. It is best to stay hidden until law enforcement comes, he explained. Once one is removed from the situation, Zebedis encourages victims to “keep out.”
The last resort of a victim is to “take out” the active shooter. In this context, taking out the victim means to use actions that could potentially lead to death.
“I can’t stand before any of you and say you must do this,” Zebedis said to the crowd Monday night in Plowden Auditorium. “You have to make it collectively and when you decide to do it, you have to commit to it.”
Out of all things discussed, the Chief Zebedis said he wanted to crowd to understand that they situations such as having an active shooter on campus can be survived.
“Now it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when,” he said. “We’re not trying to scare you, we’re trying to prepare you.”