Politics & Government

Former Navy SEAL to talk about how to survive in a mass shooting

Former Navy SEAL Angel Naves flew into Wichita on Thursday, the same day a gunman killed three and injured 14 in a spree from Newton to the Excel plant in Hesston.

He happens to be presenting Saturday in a Wichita symposium on how to protect yourself during active shooter situations.

“It’s very sad, but timely,” Naves said.

Naves trained Navy SEALs in close-quarters defense. He co-founded California-based Sports Academy and is its close-quarters defense director. His presentation will be from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday at Hoover Field, 2250 N. Hoover Road.

Thursday’s shootings serve as a sobering reminder to be prepared for the worst, he said Friday. “Citizens being able to protect themselves is obviously more critical now than it ever was before.

“Even though law enforcement does an amazing job … the initial actions people take are going to determine their outcome.”

Threat perception

Before a mass shooting, Naves says, employers need to be aware if someone is starting to behave in a concerning way.

“You have to make it available for your employees to come to you with things that may happen in their life without the fear of reprisal,” he said.

Employees must be open to others if they’re concerned about an estranged spouse or colleague wanting to hurt them, possibly at work.

“If you feel endangered by someone, you need to share that,” he said.

Watch for overt threatening statements or sudden changes in behavior.

“Most individuals give away characteristics and indications of their intentions to do harm,” Naves said. “Whoever we are, we must take that seriously. We need to take lawful steps to try and intervene and prevent actions before they occur.”

Running to safety

If a shooting happens, keep these things in mind, Naves said.

Awareness Always be aware of your location in a building and identify the quickest exit available.

Don’t freeze up Focus on getting to safety instead of trying to comprehend what is happening. “We can’t let the anxiety of that overwhelm us,” he said. Don’t focus on grabbing belongings, even your cell phone, if doing so would slow your escape.

Assess danger, then run Quickly evaluate which direction the gunfire is coming from. “Don’t just run, because oftentimes people run into the danger themselves,” he says. “When you know where the threat is definitively, run in the opposite direction.”

Call for help once safe Focus on getting to safety before communicating to the outside world. Call authorities who can help before calling loved ones. Tell only information that would help first responders, such as the number of shooters, what they look like, the weapons they’re using, where they are, where you are and if you’re injured.

Finding shelter

“If, however, you’re inside a building and you don’t know where the threat is or it would take too long to get out of the building, you’re better off to find a room that you can lock and shelter yourself inside of,” Naves said.

If you hide:

▪ Lock the door so the shooter can’t get in

▪ Barricade the door with bulky, heavy objects like filing cabinets to obscure what’s inside the room

▪ Take cover, protecting your head and upper torso from intentional or stray gunfire from the shooter or law enforcement

‘When you have no choice’

Trying to attack a shooter should be a last resort, Naves said.

“When the individual is close, unavoidable and actively in the process of shooting others, that’s when you have no other opportunity,” he said.

“If you realize they’re a threat and you can ambush them from the side or behind,” Naves said. “Take your opportunity and crush them.”

He noted that attacking a shooter when they’re not looking or reloading can help stop them. For instance, bystanders tackled a gunman as he was reloading in the 2011 shooting in Tuscon, Ariz., that killed six people and injured more than a dozen others, including then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Daniel Salazar: 316-269-6791, @imdanielsalazar