KARNES CITY – The program presented to almost 100 residents at the Karnes City High School auditorium on Sept. 11 informed the average citizen how to respond in the event of an active shooter confronts them.

Karnes County Sheriff Dwayne Villanueva hosted the event and brought the program to the county citizens.

“We no longer have the luxury of waiting for law enforcement to show up,’ said Jesse Noriega, the program’s director.

Noriega has been in law enforcement for 19 years and has been a longtime member of the SWAT teams within San Antonio law enforcement.

The definition of an active shooter situation was given as “one or more individuals actively engaged in killing or attempted to kill people in a populated area.” 

The active shooter scenarios are becoming more numerous and more deadly. The public needs to know how to respond in order to save their lives and help others, according to Noriega.

The presentation was aimed at helping the citizens caught in such a situation be an active participant in their own rescue.

The three “catch” words to remember and use are- Run, Hide and Fight.

Once shots are heard the first instinct should be to run.

“As fast as you can, away from the shooting and to the outside,” Noriega said.

If someone does get outside and to their car. It is wise not to drive away from the scene.

“Traffic leaving a scene may make it harder for first responders to arrive at the scene. Leaving traffic may clod up the roads enough to prevent additional law enforcement and EMS from reaching the scene,” Noriega said.

“Call 911 with the best description of the scene and shooter as possible.”

“If the running option is not available because of location or medical conditions, the next thing to come to mind should be to hide. Get as far away as possible, barricade yourself inside a room, lock the door and put something up against the door so no one can get in to you.

“And, don’t let anyone in until you know the situation has been cleared. Not even someone saying they are the police,” Noriega said.

If in an active shooter confrontation, face to face, the last catch word should become an action on the citizens’ part.

“Fight like a woman,” Noriega said with a slight laugh.

“If you have ever seen a woman fight, you know they bring everything. They’ll grab and throw anything within reach and just keep flailing away.” 

The program also went into a little history of active shooter situations. Most experts believe within the United States an incident in 1947 in Ohio where a bomb was set inside a school was the first such situation.

The tower shooting at the University of Texas in the 1960s is a classic example of the active shooter scenario.

Noriega mentioned the UT shooting led to the formation of what is now called SWAT teams within law enforcement.

The “going postal” instances in the 1990s also belong in the history time line as does the school shooting in Columbine, Colorado. 

The worst in history stems from the first time outside terrorists were involved – 9/11.

The instances are about 54% urban in nature, 25% in schools, 14% at staged events and 8% at church settings, according to law enforcement statistics.

Noriega also urged those in attendance to be aware of their surroundings. 

“Signs of a potential active shooter can be present before the actual shooting begins,” he said.

“The individual is a loner. He’s nursing a grudge. Usually it’s a white male in his 30s. He may display aggressive and threatening behavior. He may be struggling at his job or in school, but he is unlikely to have mental health or any criminal history.”

There is no special “look” to an active shooter though. He may be white, black, brown, tall, short, and any and all combinations thereof.

The police have three protocols when they arrive on the scene of an active shooter, according to Noriega.

• Stop the killer

• Stop the dying

• Evacuate the area

The attendees were urged not to interfere in those duties of incoming law enforcement.

“Let them do their jobs. After everything is secure, the police will come back to you,” Noriega said.

Everyone was asked to take what was presented back to their families or to work and have drills and practices so such responses come naturally and with decisiveness.

Such action could and should save lives, Noriega added.

Former editor of Karnes Countywide, Beeville sports