SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC/WAFB) - A situation like a shooter in a shopping center is one you never expect to be in, but it could happen and how you handle the situation could save your life.
Most homicides in the US are a result of gun violence, according to the National Institute of Justice. There have been many mass shooting tragedies unfold at schools like Columbine High School and Sandy Hook Elementary, and even at movie theaters like the Aurora Theater in Colorado.
All of these tragedies killed many innocent people and officials say one of the worst things you can do is hide because that makes you an easy target. Police say a lot of people instinctively think that's the first thing they should do. So, what would you do if you were at work or at the mall shopping and someone with a gun walks in? Would you be able to think fast?
Most people go to the mall to enjoy a leisurely afternoon, whether it's socializing over a cup of coffee or hunting for a good deal, but what if you were no longer the hunter? All of sudden, a man whips out a gun, brandishing it toward everyone in his path. Think fast! What are you going to do?
"Run as far as you can," said Cpl. Chris Boyette with the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department.
Boyette is an active shooter instructor. He said the first and best thing you should do is run.
"Get them out of the area as fast as possible, get them out of the way as fast as possible," Boyette said.
He said it's harder to shoot a moving target. Often times, people will try to get out of the way and hide, but that's when you become the shooter's easiest target. But what if you can't run?
"What we don't like to tell people is just give up," Boyette added.
He said to fight and defend yourself, but he warns people who carry concealed weapons.
"Well, when the police officers come in to engage the threat, they are looking for a guy with the gun," Boyette explained.
He said this can cause confusion in the middle of chaos. It could also put other lives in danger if two people are shooting. But nevertheless, do what you have to do.
"As long as you are in your legal right, defend yourself, but we don't necessarily want people to try to hunt the guy down," Boyette stated.
Boyette also said there are ways you can be proactive every time you go to a public place.
- Be aware of your surroundings and what others are doing
- Know exactly where all of your exits are
- Have a Plan A and Plan B of what you would do and where you would go if something like this were to happen
"The threat is only going to continue to increase. We have domestic terrorism, we have international terrorism, influences on what happens here and it's going to get worse," Boyette added.
He said he believes part of the reason this is a growing problem is directly related to the violence children are being exposed to, especially in video games.
He encourages parents to monitor what their children are being exposed to. This is certainly a long-term way people can also be proactive and potentially prevent another tragedy.