I'm sure many of my readers remember the recent tragic death of Johnny Hurley, who stopped an active shooter, but was then killed by responding police officers because he had picked up the shooter's rifle, and was assumed by them to be the guilty party.
Greg Ellifritz, whom we've met in these pages before, has written a lengthy article explaining how best to respond in such situations, and how to avoid being assumed by police to be the guilty party instead of the "good guy". Here's a brief excerpt.
- After you shoot and the killer is neutralized, don’t keep pointing your gun at him. Draw your gun back into a compressed ready position. Hide it with your off hand. Better yet, holster your gun. Keep your hand on the gun if you think you may still need it, but you don’t want to be the guy pointing a gun around a pile of dead bodies when the cops arrive.
- If you think you need to cover the downed killer with your pistol, the killer probably needs to be shot again. In an active killer situation, I’m going to shoot until the bad guy is no longer a threat. If you shoot him and he goes down, but keeps trying to shoot other people or access his weapons, HE NEEDS TO BE SHOT SOME MORE. If he has already killed other people and is not obeying your commands to drop his weapon, HE NEEDS TO BE SHOT SOME MORE. Solve the problem. Make sure the killer is no longer a threat and then holster your pistol.
- Consider how you look to responding officers. In order from most threatening to least threatening you could be:
- Aiming gun at the suspect
- At a low ready position
- At a high compressed ready (“chest ready”) or SUL position
- Gun holstered. Hand on gun.
- Gun holstered. Hands in the air.
- Gun on the ground. Hands in the air.
You’ll ultimately have to decide which is the best position to adopt depending on your analysis of how dangerous the suspect remains or the presence of additional suspects. Just realize that the higher up on the list you appear when the cops arrive, the greater the chance that you will be shot.
There's much more at the link. Highly recommended reading.
Friends, please remember Mr. Hurley's tragic death. He saved who knows how many innocent people by killing the criminal . . . only to die himself in a case of mistaken identity.
One can't blame the responding officer, of course. He was charging into a known "active shooter" situation, intent on saving lives, and didn't have time to ask questions before stopping what he assumed was the perpetrator. The same could happen to any police officer, or to any of us, if we find ourselves in a similar situation - and, in today's mad, crazy, violent world, it's not impossible that we will.
Let's make sure, as far as we can, that we don't get shot by mistake. Greg's article is a good starting point in that process.