Perhaps my claim to fame will be that I was at Beachwood Place the day of the recent lockdown.
I am a news junkie. I like to see and hear the same event analyzed over and over again from different viewpoints. When I hear about high school shootings or movie theatre shootings, I wonder WHAT WOULD I HAVE DONE?
I think the last time I practiced any kind of drill was a high school fire drill.
When I listen to experts wax poetic about survival techniques in shootings, I think I would have responded incorrectly. My first response would be to hide. In reality I would probably be as good at hiding as my Benji is when he thinks I can’t see him on the other side of the table.
One consistent theme I have heard over a span of shootings is to RUN.
So when we were a few stores away from SAK’S at Beachwood, and a young woman was running toward us yelling GUNFIRE, I decided to turn and run was my preferred strategy.
Moshe was more in the let’s look and see what is happening mode. I grabbed him and ran. Electronic gates were closing stores seconds before we could duck into a “safe” location. With Moshe in tow I followed EXIT signs leading us through a maze of service halls presumably leading to what the sign said, an EXIT.
Along the way we encountered several sobbing people and a few moms’ issuing what sounded like they thought might be a final I LOVE YOU.
We kept moving. Eventually, in spite of bad advice from a hall spectator, we got to an EXIT and the commands of a police officer. We were glad to wait there until we could be safely released.
While going to our car we saw the would be assailant on the ground before he was taken by ambulance.
I wanted to debrief with a professional. So I contacted a recently retired police officer to find out what I did right and what I did wrong.
I understand that he was not there, only aware of what I could tell him. I still thought it would be helpful before I hopefully put the incident in my rearview mirror.
To protect the innocent I will name the police officer, Joe Friday.
Officer Friday first said that keeping our selves safe needs to start way before we get to our destination. Park so you can pull out forward, without having to back up if you end up being in a hurry.
Park away from others so it is easier to assess the situation around your car.
Don’t follow the same routine every morning on your way to work or evening on your way home.
Always know where exits are at, and face them. Arrive early for dinner so you can face the entrance so you know what is happening sooner rather than later.
And RUN. One time he took eye witness accounts of a shooting. The witnesses were in their cars eating take out. Officer Friday said there should have been no witnesses. All of those people should have put their foot on the accelerator and gotten as far away as possible, rather than sit in their cars and eat lunch while watching a gunfight.
And by the way, statistically when there is a gun fight a police officer gets shot or killed. So hanging around the vicinity is not a good idea.
On the way home, as we heard the siren of the ambulance taking one of the involved to the hospital, Moshe said two words: ON-LINE SHOPPING.
I am sure we will be back at a mall, and we should be back to our normal routine. We also need to learn from this experience.
That is why I am sharing these lessons with you.