“Nothing in your hands. Obey commands.”
The Fairfax Police Department has released a short video via Facebook Live giving instructions on what to do if you find yourself in an active shooter situation.
Lt. Brian Ruck, a police officer from the Franconia District, said most shootings are over in around 10 minutes, ending either in “self termination” or law enforcement intervention. Ruck said most shootings are a single shooter, though law enforcement often gets reports of a second shooter in the chaos as a shooting starts.
Ruck encouraged people to follow the “Run, Hide, Fight” policy recommended by the Fairfax County Police Department.
“It’s a decision based model,” said Ruck. “Every situation is different, dynamic and complex. Unfortunately [we] can’t give viewers an exact answer to what they should do.”
If possible, Ruck says anyone in an active shooter situation should do their best to flee the area.
“Running away from the bad situation is ideal,” Ruck said. “But they may have to hide if they can’t. Barricade the door. The last phase is fight. If you have to fight for your life, that’s what you need to do.”
Even once the police arrive, that isn’t always a guarantee of safety. In November, security guard Jemel Roberson was killed in Chicago by police who mistook him for the shooter. Ruck said it’s important to when police show up to empty your hands, show them to police officers and obey commands.
“Get on the ground and have nothing in your hands,” said Ruck. “Expect them to shout at you and have weapons drawn. People see that and it’s traumatic, but officers are going in with intention of stopping a threat… Nothing in your hands. Obey commands.”
If you’re hiding, Ruck says to remain in hiding until the police come and find you.
In the meantime, Ruck encouraged people to be aware of escape routes, hiding spaces, and potential weapons around them.
“Play the ‘what if’ game,” said Ruck. “If I had to fight for my life right now, what around me could I use to defend myself? How could I get out of here? What’s an alternate exit? Not just at work, do it at home with your kids.”
Ruck also encouraged anyone who knows of someone who shows signs of mental distress and might become violent to contact the police. Ruck said a common misconception is that police’s only response is to arrest the person in question. Ruck said police could also help respond to a mental crisis and get the person to care they need.
“We’re told frequently afterwards that people saw the signs, that there was someone exhibiting certain symptoms,” said Ruck. “These people were projecting this and no one called… if you see something, say something.”