- Permit to Carry - September 15th
- Gun Shredding - September 30th
- Scenario Training - October 6th
- Hunting Precision Rifle - October 26th and 27th
- Precision Rifle Steel Shoot - October 27th
- Gun Shredding - October 28th
On September 6th, a man armed with a legally purchased handgun and a briefcase of extra ammunition entered the lobby of the Fifth Third Center Bank in Cincinnati, Ohio. Without any warning, the killer began shooting people inside the center at random, killing three and injuring two.
Within five minutes of the start of the attack, Cincinnati Police arrived on scene and engaged the killer. They hit him 11 times and ended the rampage. As of now, there is no known motive for the attack.
There is some amazing footage of this attack that can teach us a ton about violent attacks and how we prepare for them. You can watch the video footage of this attack here or here(HT:FOX News and Cincinnati Enquirer). I recommend you watch the footage now, before reading further, to help you better understand the nuances listed below.
First thing to note is that the shooter, who I'll refer to as the FTB Killer, looks both angry and entirely focused. He expects no resistance and, until law enforcement arrives, he receives none. This is critical because the active shooter has a psychological drive along with his tools to implement it. The main drive appears to be ego.
The weapon can be seen as the symbol of the active shooter's ego and hatred of the world. Active shooters almost always lead their movements with the weapon. By taking the weapon as an "embodiment" of power, they often move as if nothing can pierce the shield of this weapon. This is, of course, wrong. We'll see this from LEO later.
For us as defenders, it's valuable to understand this view of the weapon as an impenetrable force field, the idea that "I have a weapon so I'm in control." Knowing this, when we set up for a defense, we can utilize cover/concealment for a massive tactical advantage - a "real" shield rather than an imaginary one.
From the armed prospective, our position of cover/concealment means we're less exposed to his random and poorly aimed gunfire. This gives us the protection to put effective rounds on target. If we were unarmed, the weapon-first strategy of the killer means that his firearm will be the first thing to enter our defended position in a hard point room. That makes it open to immediate grabs and counter attacks.
You might assume that a killer on a mission would take aim and make every shot count, but you can observe the FTB Killer not aiming in the video. He only managed to hit 5 people during the rampage, and one of the injured was shot 12 times and survived. For us as defenders, that should remind us that it is not simply "rounds down range" that count, but effective rounds on target.
The FTB Killer's initial attack was straight across the bank and to the right, walking right past the security guard, located inside the lobby, and giving the guard enough time to pick up a man that had fallen and rush him and others into a back room.
This demonstrates your two possible threat conditions: Direct or Indirect.
Those who were in the immediate line of fire were the direct target of the lethal threat, and had no other choice but to respond. This is where a deeply programmed neurological response to lethal force must be developed and to, whenever possible, have the means to project lethal force back at the threat, so you can respond immediately and unconsciously.
If, however, like the security guard who was off to the side, you find yourself the indirect target of this kind of threat, you have choices. You could choose to engage the killer, or you could choose to retreat. That retreat could be to simply escape the area, or a lockdown procedure in a hard point. When you're training, the DMT Active Threat lockdown plan is:
- Go Dark
When the FTB Killer started his attack, he came linearly through a restaurant, into the lobby of the bank. When LEOs arrived on scene, they went around the front of the structure, rather than through it. Since front of the bank was all glass windows, there are pluses and minuses to this strategy.
On the positive side, LEOs are further from the threat. This could allow the LEOs to have a superior position to the untrained killer's low level of skill and competency via the distance, since distance negates skill. But it could also be a problem due to all the furniture and other obstructions that are often between windows and interiors of buildings, which could provide concealment for the killer while the LEOs were more exposed outside.
This problem can be seen here, as the FTB Killer now has spotted one of the LEOs that tried to flank him from the outside and make entry from a set of double doors, off camera, to the left of the killer.
Note how the killer is still leading with the firearm and how he's simply trying to close on the LEO. His warped mind is still convinced at this moment that he's the all-powerful one, and that he's the one in charge.
That delusion of being in charge ends very quickly when bullets begin to fly both ways. LEOs from the killer's left and right begin shooting into the lobby. The killer, now most assuredly suffering from the Physiological Response to Stress (PRS), does a startle flinch to his left.
If you don't believe the startle flinch is hardwired, here's one more visual proof. Note the shrugging shoulders, the twisting toward the threat, and, as seen in the video, the sudden retraction of the hands toward the core of the body and the neck. You need dedicated training to redirect this startle flinch or it's going to happen in a real life attack.
The next element is that once the gunfire starts going both ways, the untrained killer is basically paralyzed. According to reports, the FTB Killer's firearm malfunctioned in this confrontation with LEOs and he was utterly unable to remediate it. From the video footage, it doesn't even look like the killer knows it's malfunctioned or even tries to fix it. The killer has also set down his bag containing all of his remaining ammunition, thus he has no back up for the single magazine in his firearm.
With shots coming from the killer's left at the double doors, he attempts to run to a position of cover to his right, back toward the restaurant. In that run, the LEO on the right side of the screen has a clear view of the killer and begins shooting, sending the killer to the ground. Another LEO coming straight to the front windows can be seen shooting the killer on the ground, ensuring that the killer stays down.
The Physiological Response to Stress isn't only happening to the killer, but to the LEOs as well. When the officer on the outside to the right encounters the killer at the double doors, he pulls back behind cover and goes non-functional for a moment.
This is not a critique of the officer, but a note that this can happen under PRS, and we desperately want to train ourselves as defenders and our LEOs out of this response.
This freezing response is not only unproductive, but could easily lead to the death of this officer through ineffective use of cover/concealment. We saw this against a trained killer in the Dallas, Texas mass killing last year (picture to the right).
In the Cincinnati case, you see that once the officer recovers from the chaos, he does manage to make entry to the bank lobby, from the double doors to the right.
Using cover/concealment was critical to the success of the LEOs in this fight, but poor use of that cover/concealment could have led to more carnage. Look at the position that this LEO takes to cover down on the killer.
The bullet holes through that glass are still fresh, and he's attempting to use a larger hole as a "loop-hole" to cover down on the killer in the lobby. Most assuredly, this officer is also suffering from PRS, and in a more rational state of mind he would probably not have stood out in the open just after gunfire had been exchanged with the killer.
Also, note the officer's odd firearm grip. It appears as if he's holding both the gun and a flashlight at the same time. Utilizing this kind of a grip on a firearm is hard, and lessens your ability to manage the recoil of your handgun. Rather than using a firearm and flashlight separately, it would be better to use a weapon mounted light, since LEOs also have large flashlights on their belts for "normal flashlight use."
This LEO trying to use the loop-hole is in a very awkward position. That is important to note as when everything goes bad, the odds of you maintaining a perfect stance is very low, which means that the rest of your shooting fundamentals need to be very well established to compensate.
The last thing to note in the video is the officers covering down on the threat from outside. You can see that the officer who was behind cover has now come to back up the officer that's looking through the loop-hole.
Note the muzzle awareness. This is really close tight stuff, and he's pointing almost directly at his partner. We can't tell by the video if this officer is maintaining trigger finger awareness as a safeguard to keep from accidentally shooting, but you can see how important it is to develop that skill for situations such as these.
DMT has long been a proponent of people carrying firearms as often as possible, and it was clear, in this case, that rapid and effective use of force was necessary, and was quickly able to stop this untrained attacker. Developing your own skill would be critical, as in those five minutes before LEO arrived, many more could have been injured or killed.
Don't forget the post-fight actions that would be necessary following this situation. There would be multiple people in need of immediate emergency medical attention. Are you carrying your tourniquet? Do you have a TacMed kit in your car or office? If you don't, I would encourage you to get both of those tools and the training to use them.
This was a terrible event that took the lives of innocent people, for no apparent reason. That means that it is yet one more indication that evil exists in our world and it's up to us defenders to be prepared to respond to it.
Until next time, train hard and stay safe,