The tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, unfolded in a packed movie theater at approximately 12:38am on Friday morning. Movie goers were watching the premiere of the new Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises,” when gunfire, explosions, and panic ensued.
Twelve people were killed, 58 others injured. Police are saying the alleged gunman, 24 year old James Holmes, had been planning the attack for months.
In the wake of the senseless rampage, many of us find ourselves wondering “how can we keep ourselves, and our families, safe in public, or in crowded situations?”
So we contacted self defense expert and 7th degree Black Belt Jose I. Delgado, PhD. Delgado is the Master of his own martial arts school, Koryo Do, in St. Augustine, FL, and the founder of Taino Consultants Inc, which provides security and combat training to commercial and government organizations.
Asked about the rampage, Delgado stated that he felt sickened and violated by the attack.
While recognizing the fact that the victims of Friday’s shooting had no opportunity to take action due to the speed and unexpected nature of incident, we asked Delgado some specific questions on what we can do when it comes to staying safe in crowds.
NFS: What precautions can someone take to stay safe in crowded places? :
“First, and this advice applies to any situation, as you get into any place look for the exits. At times you have to look at those identified and those that are not, as those could potentially be the safest route out. Also, be aware of your surroundings. Most attacks require an amount of planning so there may be some telltale signs like an individual avoiding eye contact or acting erratic. I would also advise that if you are a part of a group, agree on a meeting place in case you are separated. Last but not least, always use a buddy system so that you are never by yourself.”
NFS: If faced with a gunman, what is the best response?
“Don’t push or threaten a person with a gun. Give them whatever they want
and hope to walk away. Even experts in the field will not try to disarm or
fight someone with a gun unless absolutely necessary.”
NFS: If we are in a crowd, or someplace like a movie theater with a large number of people, and hear shots and see people panicking, what should we do?
“Look for cover as close to the ground as possible. This advice works well
with most situations. Stay cool and analyze the situation. Then listen to see if there is anyone in charge and if not approach the exit points carefully.”
NFS: What other thoughts do you have about the Aurora incident?
“Nothing is sacred anymore. I travel a lot and as I go from place to place I realize that our freedom has been compromised for security. But then, what can we do when the person committing these offenses has nothing to lose? At the end of the day this incident confirms the need for training and preparation.”