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Monday, May 27, 2024

Run, hide or fight: Workshop to teach active shooter survival skills

Police were dispatched to Ebby’s Auto Painting/Collision Repair last week, when police say a lone gunman shot an employee and barricaded himself in the store. A free workshop Thursday will advise residents what to do if they find themselves caught in such a situation. (Andrew Harris/WYDaily)

One week after a gunman barricaded himself in an auto shop on Second Street, the Williamsburg area will host a workshop on how to survive an active shooter situation.

Last Tuesday, local police responded to an active shooter at Ebby’s Auto Painting/Collision Repair shop in the York County section of Williamsburg. Michael Sean Taylor, 40, of Hampton allegedly shot an employee before barricading himself in the building for hours in a standoff with police. He was arrested after police stormed the building, subduing him with tear gas and a taser. 

While the victim was last reported to be in stable condition and no one else was injured, such shootings have the potential to be far worse. A workshop scheduled this week in Williamsburg has been designed to prepare residents should they find themselves in a similar scenario.

The event will be hosted by U.S. Law Shield, a firearms legal defense program with more than 200,000 members, according to their website. It will be held at the Chamber and Tourism Alliance building at 421 N. Boundary Street from 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday.

U.S. Law Shield Area Manager Lisa Hermoso organized the event in response to Tuesday’s shooting. Hermoso said she attended her first workshop in Virginia Beach after the fatal shooting at a Farm Fresh in Norge in 2016. She said it was a response to incident. She was shocked such a crime could take place in the area.

“I knew it was too close to home and I needed to learn what to do in that situation,” Hermoso said.

Hermoso said the workshop will be comprised of a lecture and a question-and-answer session. U.S. Law Shield hosts roughly 10 workshops per month across the commonwealth.

The workshop will be taught by Randy Riddick, who said he spent 14 years in the Portsmouth Sheriff’s Department, reaching the rank of lieutenant before retiring in 2008.

Before serving in the Sheriff’s Department, Riddick said he spent 22 years with the Marine Corps. He now works contractually, training police, security and armed forces, and conducting safety workshops for the public.

Riddick said his presentation will begin with a discussion of shootings from around the country, and what can be learned from those events. He added that he has updated his presentation to reflect information from last week’s shooting.

The presentation will inform attendees of the three options they will have if they find themselves in an active shooter situation: running, hiding or fighting. Riddick said running — if possible — is the best option.

“First of all, individuals need to recognize that threat,” Riddick said. “If you hear gunfire, don’t be in denial about that. The biggest thing is to get you and your family to safety. You need to evacuate by any means.”

However, in certain situations, it may be safer for some people to remain in place and hope to avoid detection. Riddick said he will explain instances, such as the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, in which unarmed people hid from the shooter and survived.

The final option is to fight the shooter with whatever means necessary. Riddick advises against confronting the shooter unless absolutely necessary, even if you are armed.

“You don’t want to be a victim, even if you think you’re doing a Good Samaritan act,” Riddick said, adding that even if the shooter does not injure you, police may mistake you for a suspect if they see you holding a gun.

The best way to avoid being the victim of a shooting is to remain aware of one’s surroundings, Riddick said. And he practices what he preaches.

“I go to WAWA, but before I go in, I do a scan of the store and then position myself where I can see who comes into the establishment and recognize a possible threat,” Riddick said. “If someone is wearing an overcoat [on a hot day], that’s going to raise my awareness.”

Riddick also stressed the importance of remaining calm and in control of your thoughts and emotions in dangerous situations.

“It doesn’t matter where you are, this is just the world we live in now,” Hermoso said.  “Unfortunately, we all need to be prepared.”

If you want to go…

Call Lisa Hermoso at 757-641-9209 to register for the free workshop.

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