Experts say Collierville tragedy serves as reminder to be prepared for the unimaginable

Published: Sep. 25, 2021 at 2:24 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Thursday’s tragedy in Collierville is the latest among a growing list of active shooting incidents in the U.S.

According to a recent FBI report, active shooter incidents increased by 33 percent last year.

The FBI defines an active shooter as “one or more individuals actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area.”

While the number of active shooter incidents increased in 2020, the number of people killed fell sharply.

The FBI attributes that to the pandemic keeping people away from large gatherings.

But the pandemic will eventually end and large crowds will return.

That’s why Bill Flynn, a former Department of Homeland Security official who was part of a White House task force following the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting, says now is the time to prepare.

“There’s no perfect security plan. There is no way to eliminate risk,” said Flynn. “What we have to do is work smartly to identify where are the greatest risks and put our attention and resources to mitigating that risk.”

The FBI says of the 40 active shooting incidents last year, 24 occurred at or near businesses.

The Mid-South has experienced shootings at major businesses in recent years.

In February 2020, two officers were injured and a suspect was killed after a shooting in Walmart in Forrest City, Arkansas.

In 2019, investigators say a gunman, a disgruntled employee, killed two co-workers and injured a police officer at Walmart in Southaven, Mississippi.

If they don’t already, Flynn says businesses should have an active shooter plan.

“We’re never going to eliminate risk, but we can mitigate it. We can put our attention to where we think the risk is the greatest so that we can mitigate the consequences of these events happening,” said Flynn.

Flynn says it’s also important people know what to do in an active shooter situation.

Experts say to run, hide and fight.

Run from the danger. Hide if running is too risky. Fight only as a last resort.

“You want that training to kick in so that they understand ‘Oh my God, I’m in a life and death situation,’” Flynn said.

Collierville Police Chief Dale Lane says that’s what likely saved a lot of lives in Thursday’s mass shooting at Kroger.

“They were doing what they had been trained to do, run, hide, fight,” Lane said.

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