What to do in case of active shooter: Monroe County Sheriff’s Office offers class

SPARTA, Wis. (WKBT) — After the mass shooting that killed seven and injured dozens of others at a July 4 parade in Highland Park, Ill., local community members are raising questions about what to do in the case of an active shooter.

When gunshots go off, it’s hard to imagine what you would do.

“It was almost like a light switch flipped and everyone started running for cover,” said Dana Ring, a witness to  the Highland Park shooting.

As bullets from a high-powered rifle were fired into the crowd from a rooftop, families were separated.

“We ran behind the building, and I put my son in the dumpster,” said Shawn Cotreau, another witness. “And he sat there with his dog, and I went back to look for my family. I left them there with someone.” 

Following that and other mass shootings, local law enforcement officers are reminding people ways to stay safe when the unthinkable comes their way.

“A.D.D. — or avoid, deny, defend,” said Christopher Weaver, chief deputy at the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office in Sparta.

Weaver teaches a class called civilian response to active shooter events.

“We have to have some sort of plan in case something does go sideways,” he said.

One of the most important steps is being aware of your surroundings to avoid an active shooter, Weaver said.

“Not being too into one’s cellphone while moving around, being aware of what those noises could be that you hear,” he said.

If an active shooter situation does happen, deny the shooter access to you.

“I suggest people get behind a door as the first line of defense,” Weaver said.

In Highland Park, many people sought refuge in nearby buildings.

“Our sister’s boyfriend is still in a building hiding, so we’re just kind of waiting around because he can’t get home,” parade goer Angela Sendak said quite some time after the slaughter.

When all else fails, Weaver says people should defend themselves as best they can.

“We strongly believe that everyone has the inherent right to self defense.” he said. “If they would need to, we talk about the best ways to defend yourself if the attacker were to enter the area you sought refuge.”

Weaver says as mass shootings become more frequent, people should always be prepared.

“Have some kind of strategy if something happens, and then I simply put that in the back of my mind,” he said.

Weaver says it’s important to create a safety plan with family members and children before an active shooter situation occurs. People should talk about who to call, where to meet, and what exists to look for.

Anyone interested in the civilian response class, can contact the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office at (608) 269-7867. The public is welcome to attend.

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