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By Brian Besch
An active shooter and critical incident response seminar was held at Dunbar Gym to give the community a better understanding on actions to take and how to prepare for the worst of situations.
Employees of school districts, hospitals, churches, law enforcement, as well as first responders and community leaders were all invited to attend the presentations held Thursday morning and afternoon.
The seminar was held by Ricardo Garcia of the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office. Garcia has held these talks for over six years now and upon retiring in two weeks, plans for many more. He has held positions in hostage negotiation, SWAT team, and medical training.
“You are only going to be able to do what you already have planned,” Garcia explained to those on hand. “We have to encourage our teachers, our schools, our businesses, our churches to just accept the fact that we have to start preparing for these things. I think one of the most important parts of preparation is that we have to accept that this is currently the world we are living in. We can’t ignore this; it is not just going to go away.”
Garcia said many ask what should be looked for and what is the profile of the shooters.
“The truth is, we don’t have one. We have shooters that are 10-year-old boys, 12-year-old girls, teenagers, we’ve had married couples working in tandem, members of faith, we have had attorneys, we have had veterans, we have had homeless people. Everybody that you can imagine has been an active shooter in this country.”
Though not able to give a profile, Garcia said the one thing they all have in common is preparation. He said that gives law enforcement an edge, because each will look to see what has worked in the past.
Garcia also warned that the main goal active shooters are hoping to accomplish is the highest death total possible. He fears that many of the active shooter situations will instead turn to explosives.
An example he gave of this was at Columbine High School. He said the death total there should have been at over 600. However, two very large explosive devices on weight-bearing pillars failed to function because of a small mistake on timers.
School shootings go all the way back to 1927 in Bath, Michigan. A man, upset that he was taken off the school board as treasurer, killed his wife and destroyed their farm. He then went to the school and detonated explosives 15 minutes after class began. As the town’s people came to rescue survivors, another round of explosives were set off. At 45 people, it remains the deadliest school attack in United States history.
“This is the mentality and you never know what is going through someone’s mind,” Garcia said. “No one talks about this because it wasn’t firearms, it was explosives.”
He also explained that the response in Uvalde was incorrect from law enforcement.
“Since Uvalde happened, everybody questions law enforcements’ response. They asked me all the time what the sheriff’s office is doing differently. The answer is that we are not training them any differently, because we don’t understand what they were doing in Uvalde. We look at those videos and it goes against every single thing that we teach. It was completely wrong on every level. We don’t know what those officers were doing and why, or what was their mentality. We’re not changing the way that we are training, because we know that our training is correct.”
The way officers are now trained, the first on the scene goes to engage the attackers. He said officers should be equipped and trained to go directly into the area of danger. His reasoning was if the shooters are now engaged with law enforcement, they are no longer a threat to civilians and casualties are limited.
Thursday’s session ended with first aid and tourniquet training, which Garcia said would save many lives if used during these horrific events.