Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Here’s where you can learn how to stay safe in an active threat situation

Twelve people were shot and killed in Building 2 of the Virginia Beach Municipal Center Friday, May 31, 2019. (Melanie Occhiuzzo/WYDaily)
Twelve people were shot and killed in Building 2 of the Virginia Beach Municipal Center Friday, May 31, 2019. (Melanie Occhiuzzo/WYDaily)

After the mass shooting in Virginia Beach Friday, public places and gatherings frequently targeted, such as religious groups, might be taking another look at their security.

In 2019, there have been five mass shootings in Virginia, including the events of Friday, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit that provides access to gun-related violence.

A mass shooting is defined by the Congressional Research Service as a single event where four or more people are killed. In the past decade there has been 2.4 percent more mass shootings than the previous decade and 57 percent of all recorded mass shootings have occurred within the last 10 years.

And Virginia Beach brought the issue even closer to home. In response, Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Tuesday he is pushing for gun-control legislation.

But in the meantime, public places can still be a place of threat and residents want to know how to defend themselves in an active shooter scenario.

Over the past few years, local congregations have had the opportunity to participate in active threat workshops that teach safety and protocol should a shooter enter their building. This year, the workshop in January was so popular that the county had to find a larger space to host the event.

Stephanie Williams, spokeswoman for the James City County Police Department, said there are not currently any other classes scheduled.

However, there are still options for all members of the public to learn safety procedures during an active threat situation.

Williams said one of the services offered through the county’s Community Services Unit is intruder training, which includes active shooter situations. Congregations, businesses and other organizations can request the service at anytime though the Community Services unit sergeant, John LeClaire.

In addition to those services, Williams said the department has partnered with Williamsburg-James City County Schools to conduct lockdown drills in each of the public schools. There have also been several security surveys in all of the James City County government buildings.

Going forward, Williams said the department will continue to look at expanding partnerships with faith-based organizations in the county to improve safety.

The James City County Fire Department also partners with JCCPD to offer Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events and Stop the Bleed workshops.

(WYDaily/Melanie Occhiuzzo)
(WYDaily/Melanie Occhiuzzo)

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Stop the Bleed is a national campaign with courses that teach bystanders and civilians how to help during a bleeding emergency before professional help can arrive. The workshop teaches strategies, guidance and practical skills for handling bleeding in a traumatic situation, Williams said.

CRASE is a workshop built on the strategy “Avoid, Deny, Defend,” which was developed by Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training at Texas State University in 2004.

“We advise people to adhere to the principles of run, hide, and fight if put into a situation involving an active shooter,” Williams said.

Part of that is teaching individuals to evacuate an area, whether or not others around them agree to do so as well as evaluating the best locations for hiding in certain areas, according to the FBI.

Officers also regularly train to respond to active shooter scenarios based on techniques taught by ALERRT as well as administering First Aid to any victims.

For more information on the Community Services Unit, visit James City County online.


Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at

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