Parker County Sheriff’s Office Cpl. BJ Sharp gave an active shooter presentation at the East Parker County Chamber of Commerce luncheon Wednesday afternoon.
“Cpl. Sharp has attended multiple tactical and active shooter training courses and currently holds instructor certifications in firearms, advanced law enforcement, rapid response training and civilian response to active shooter training,” Parker County Treasurer Jenny Barnwell, who introduced Sharp, said.
Sharp did a short presentation, saying an in-depth training course called CRASE can be provided by local law enforcement to businesses, organizations and schools.
“The goal when we talk about active shooter situations is to save as many lives as possible and when we come out to talk to you, it’s to prepare you and hopefully harden your business or target from somebody coming in to do some harm,” Sharp said. “Active shooters are not there to do a robbery, they’re not there to take hostages, they’re there to actually inflict harm, injury and death on people they come into contact with and it’s usually over within 10 to 15 minutes, so that’s not a lot of time.”
Sharp said there is no specific profile to active shooters, but 96 percent have been males and 55 percent have some kind of connection to the location they’re targeting.
“They have the avenger mindset — they’re doing it for a purpose and they believe it’s right. The shooter’s main goal is not to escape, but to kill as many people as possible,” Sharp said. “So, 55 percent have had some kind of connection to where the incident occurred whether it be a school, a business or a church, but over 50 percent of active shootings occur at businesses.”
Sharp went over shooting incidents that have changed the way law enforcement responds and trains, which includes the University of Texas tower shooting that happened on Aug. 1, 1966. A former Marine took rifles and other weapons to the observation deck in the main building tower and killed 14 people, injuring 31, over a span of 96 minutes.
“After that incident, law enforcement had to change the way they approach active shooters and incidents because at that time there weren’t SWAT teams, so after that, they had to figure out if it happened again, how they were going to respond to it,” Sharp said. “That’s why SWAT teams were formed.”
Sharp said the Columbine High School shooting in 1999 was another incident that changed responding tactics for law enforcement.
“Columbine was a big one for us because prior to that when an incident occurred, we would be called out, would set up a parameter, and wait for that SWAT team to arrive and take care of the incident,” Sharp said. “The problem with that was that a lot of people got killed at that school waiting for SWAT to respond. The gunmen were in there for 45 minutes and that’s a long time. After this incident law enforcement looked again at what we needed to improve and came up with responses that we do, instead of waiting for SWAT.”
Sharp went over the shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado in 2012 and the shooting at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida in 2016, saying it’s important to report any type of suspicious activity wherever you are and be aware of your surroundings.
“There was an incident in a school in another county and a lady thought she had to tell the principal or some staff leader that there was a man walking across their campus with a gun before 911 was called,” Sharp said. “If there’s something suspicious and it really raises the hair on the back of your neck, that’s the time to call 911 so we can come out. If it’s nothing, then it’s nothing, but if it’s something we can prevent from happening, the sooner the better. It’s important to just be aware of your surroundings.”
Sharp said the CRASE training has increased and law enforcement offers it to anyone who would like to provide active shooter training to their business, school or organization.
“We are teaching businesses and schools a lot about running and getting out safely and hiding, but there may come a time where you might actually have to engage the person there, you might have to fight for your life,” Sharp said. “Another way to put this is Avoid, Deny, Defend, same concept as Run, Hide and Fight. It’s stuff you have to be willing to do and when it comes time to fight, fight for your life because it will depend on it. It’s going to be you or him.”
EPCCC President and CEO Lisa Flowers said their program committee has done an amazing job bringing relevant speakers each month to the luncheons.
“It’s unfortunate that we even need to think about active shooter awareness, but in today’s time, it’s relevant. It’s our mission to make sure we provide the tools and resources to help our businesses,” Flowers said. “The program committee is chaired by Anita White with White’s Funeral Home, joined by Shawn Callaway with the Aledo Education Foundation, Tanya Hodges with PlainsCapital Bank Willow Park and Jenny Barnwell, our county treasurer. They have done an amazing job this year bringing informative and relevant speakers to our monthly luncheons and I appreciate them all.”