FORT WORTH — As the gold dots popped up on the screen, each one representing another active shooter situation in the United States since the year 2000, people took notice.
“It’s almost like we’re just expecting it,” said 83-year-old Norman Bermes. “We were here today preparing to react to the next situation.”
Bermes went to civilian active shooter training in Fort Worth Saturday with one major question.
“I’m carrying a gun in a shopping mall, and I hear shots. What do I do?” he asked.
The answer is threefold according to the presentation given by the Forth Worth Police Department. First, you avoid the action entirely by getting out of the area. ‘If you can still see the building, the shooter can still see you,’ the class was told. If it’s not possible to get out, you deny the shooter access to you by using barricade techniques: turning off lights, locking doors, etc. Then, if it comes to it, you defend yourself by any means necessary.
Bermes brought an interesting perspective to the class. He was pinned down in one of Texas’ most famous and earliest active shooter situations, the University of Texas clock tower shooting in 1966.
“I would step out like I was going to go help somebody. Then I’d step right back and a rain of bullets would come right down,” he remembered. He said he used the tactic over and over, hoping to distract the shooter long enough to protect other lives. He was 33 at the time and Saturday he learned a new tactic.
“When the uniform (Police) shows up, drop your gun so that you’re not the bad guy,” he said before adding, “but until they get there you’re the one that’s going to have to secure the situation. I always say I hope the shooter has bad aim because I’m never going to shoot first, but if it comes to it all bets are off.”
A valuable lesson, but one that hopefully Bermes or anyone else will ever have to use.