Please be warned, this post contains graphic imagery of death.
This is a multi-part series on JimOnLight.com on what to do if someone comes into your gig shooting at you. This is by no means the answer, or even an answer. Every situation is different, everything that can go wrong will go wrong (as we all know in Entertainment alone), and the information and interviews here are meant solely to help you be less unprepared. Very few of us out there in the field have the kind of training that it actually takes to combat people who are hell bent on killing us. This article series is just meant to give you things to think about in order to put your head in the game. Use this information at your own risk and with steadfast understanding that if you’re attacked at a gig, it is you who will be responsible for you.
Part 1 and Part 2 talk about Situational Awareness, and what to do when you’re faced with an Active Shooter Event. That means when you’re at work and some asshole comes in firing at people. The Situational Awareness part comes from having your head out of your phone and watching what’s going on around you to notice that there’s an Active Shooter in your gig.
We’ve also learned that the best things to to are to GET OUT OF THAT SITUATION AND OUT OF THE BUILDING AS QUICKLY AND SAFELY AS POSSIBLE.
We’ve learned that there is no reason for you untrained cowboys out there with concealed carry permits to insert yourself into a situation, it’s most likely going to end up with me writing a story about you on JimOnLight, and tens of thousands of people are going to like it, comment on it, say how nice you were when you when they worked with you… but you’ll still be dead. People bent on death don’t think or train past the moment of your death, it is best to JUST GET THE FUCK OUT.
I’m super glad to have gotten Brendon’s thoughts on what’s been going on out there — if you sit down with Grimey at a show, he’s actually quite a knowledgeable guy and his company kicks ass.
Grimey, you spent time in complete shitholes during conflict. What are your thoughts as to everything that’s gone down in the last 6 months?
“The recent terrorist attacks in Paris fall in line with so many other attacks throughout the world. It saddens me to see any of this happen, yet I am still amazed to see how many individuals that live with their heads in the ground about this real and dangerous threat. Almost as if it does not pertain to them.”
“I know that every terror attack somehow affects me. I’ve spent 20 years in the United States Air Force, as an MC-130H Combat Mission Loadmaster. I have had so many great experiences, and met so many great people and friends over that time. I have traveled to well over 100 Countries around the world, during which time I always recognized that I was there as a representative of the USA. This meant that I followed and obeyed the host Countries laws and respected their practices or beliefs. OK, I admit there may have been a few Countries that I visited that we were only there for a short period of time, and it was to ‘correct’ their policies, or administer our policy. However, for the most part, we always respected the host Nations policies, just like tourists or visiting Tours should do.”
Do you think that your career has prepared you for the threats that we face today? Are those threats real, or are we going all ‘prepper’ on the business?
“I served a distinguished career, retiring with an honorable discharge. So now we have the same threat that has affected the entertainment industry, and an entire new group of individuals believe that maybe, just maybe, this threat is real, and could involve them. The threat is global, the threat is real, and it is not only aimed at Americans, but against Western civilizations and beliefs. So maybe a reminder every once and awhile is in order, the below list contains just a few of a very long list, but these attacks were against Americans, or killed Americans:
- April 18, 1983, US Embassy Bombing in Beirut, 63 dead, 120 injured
- October 23, 1983, The 1983 Beirut barracks bombing by the Islamic Jihad Organization. 307 dead 75 injured.
- September 20, 1984, The 1984 United States embassy annex bombing in Beirut, Lebanon. 24 dead.
- October 7, 1985, Achille Lauro hijacking. 1 dead.
- January 25, 1993 – 1993 shootings at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia. 2 killed, 3 injured.
- February 26, 1993, World Trade Center bombing, in New York City. 6 killed, 1,042 injured
- June 25, 1996 – Khobar Towers bombing, 20 killed, 372 wounded.
- August 7, 1998 – 1998 United States embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya. 224 dead, 4000+ injured.
- October 12, 2000 – Attack on USS Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden. 17 American sailors were killed, 39 injured.
- September 11, 2001 – 4 planes hijacked by 19 al-Qaeda members: two planes crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City, New York; one into The Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia; and one into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. 2,977 victims killed.
- June 1, 2009 – 2009 Little Rock recruiting office shooting by Abdulhakim Muhajid Muhammad. 1 killed and 1 injured
- November 5, 2009 – Fort Hood shooting, at Fort Hood near Killeen, Texas. 13 dead, 33 injured.
- March 2, 2011 – 2011 Frankfurt Airport shooting, Frankfurt, Germany. 2 dead, 2 injured.
- September 11, 2012 – 2012 Benghazi attack on the U.S. Consulate. 4 dead, 11 injured.
- April 15, 2013 – Boston Marathon bombings. Two brothers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnev, planted two bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The blast killed 3 and injured 183 others.
- September 13, 2013 – 2013 attack on U.S. consulate in Herat. 2 dead 20 injured.
- October 23, 2014 – Zale H. Thomson, also known as Zaim Farouq Abdul-Malik, attacked four New York policemen in the subway with a hatchet, severely injuring one in the back of the head and injuring another policeman in the arm before being shot to death by the remaining officers, who also shot a civilian.
- May 3, 2015 – Two gunmen attacked the Curtis Culwell Center during a ‘Draw Muhammad’ cartoon art exhibit in Garland, Texas . 2 dead (perpetrators) 1 injured.
“So, you ask my opinions regarding recent terrorist events because of my military background? Well this is nothing new to me. I am discouraged that our political leadership has failed to take appropriate actions over the past several years. I am very concerned that Americas trend towards ‘Political Correctness’ has taken us down a path that has no easy return. This problem is not America’s problem, it is the World’s problem. Each and every one of us have a responsibility to stand up against terrorism, and fight for basic human rights. Nearly 30 years ago, I took a sworn oath to defend the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. That oath did not have a expiration date, and today I still stand against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
Ok brother, let’s put your brain through these questions. Starting with number one – If you were at a show at FOH in a venue like that of Le Bataclan and attackers burst in with automatic weapons, what are the first and second things that would be going through a trained mind like yours?
“Remain Calm, take cover and identify the threat, then take appropriate action.”
Now imagine that question with AND without a sidearm, and how you would react differently.
“I’d still take appropriate action. I’d take cover. Though, I might use tools at hand such as lighting and audio to confuse and disorient the attackers. I believe that as long as we allow the threat of terror to exist, we will continue to see changes in the ways public events are handled. Specific guidelines for patrons, and venue staff. Kevlar matting built into crowd barriers, snipers or armed security at larger public events, there are many possibilities.”
Considering our environment and the various things we have to use as cover and concealment, can you recommend what to use and what not to use? Obviously a rolling dimmer rack would probably provide more protection than a wardrobe case, for example — What would you go for?
“This would completely depend on where I was at in the venue. Many people don’t realize the benefit of hitting the ground and lying flat. However, any flight case would work to start because you become out of sight. Heavier cases such as cable trunks, stage decking, and so forth obviously would be better to hide behind, but in reality, whatever you can do to make yourself a smaller target is the best option.”
What are your thoughts generally on protection inside of venues by crew personnel? Do you think that our own protection is something that we need to take on at this point in our industry? How do you feel about arming ourselves at gigs?
“I know several crew members that have concealed carry permits, and some that don’t, both of whom carry concealed fire arms. Some crew have actual weapons safes in their touring work box. They normally do not carry while loading in/out as the threat is lower, however once they sit back into go mode such as at a FOH position they sometimes arm themselves. I have been told by one freelance technician named ‘Levi’ that he carries depending on his feelings towards his own personal safety at each event.”
“It is not my belief that it is our responsibility as touring crew to provide security for the events we work. I also believe that I cannot depend on anyone else to defend me, however I expect to be provided a safe environment to work in. So as we have seen, this is not always the case. While not creating an argument over second amendment rights, I do believe that anyone who wishes to provide additional protection for themselves in the form of weaponry, needs to be fully trained, and qualified to do so, and this means maintaining safe practice and regular training. As some of these weapons can be more harmful in the wrong hands.”
Brendon Grimes laid out some serious dead rules for what he thinks is appropriate action. Notice though, he goes straight into the most important thing first — GET DOWN, GET COVERED, GET OUT. We’re on Part 3 here, and this is still the main theme. When someone attacks your gig, GET OUT, GET OUT, GET OUT — and take as many people as you can.
Ok, some real talk…
Here’s what an AK-47 looks like pointed towards you:
Here’s an AK-47 with and without a man-targeter on the front of it. There is no mistake that you have a deadly weapon pointed at you:
SO when you see ANY of those things at a gig out of place… What are you going to do? Especially while not carrying a firearm, which should not be our responsibility at the gig in the first place?
- YOU ARE GOING TO GET DOWN
- YOU ARE GOING TO GET OUT AS FAST AS SAFELY AS POSSIBLE WITHOUT PANICKING
- YOU ARE NOT GOING TO PLAY HERO, YOU ARE GETTING THE FUCK OUT
- If you CANNOT INSTANTLY GET OUT, YOU ARE GOING TO HIDE AND STAY HIDDEN UNTIL YOU CAN GET OUT
- WHEN YOU CAN GET OUT, YOU’RE GOING TO GET OUT
- ONCE YOU’RE OUT — CALL THE LOCAL EMERGENCY NUMBER
- IF YOU CANNOT GET OUT – HIDE UNTIL YOU HAVE TO FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE
LET’S JUST SAY that you’re carrying your legal sidearm at a gig or on a tour, and some terror douches come into your gig, shooting up people and firing indiscriminately into the crowd. What are you going to do? If you have ignored the four military minds here stating for you to GET OUT OF THAT PLACE AND DON’T ENGAGE, and you are going to take your own life and those around you into your own hands like some kind of hero, what are you going to do?
Rick Reeves in Part 2 mentions that “there is one exception: If you have a gun that you can get out without being noticed, and there is a bad guy 7 feet in front of you with his back to you, and you KNOW you cannot miss from 7 feet, shoot him. Then take all of the rest of the advice I gave you.” The rest of Rick’s advice was GETTING OUT AND TAKING AS MANY PEOPLE OUT AS YOU CAN GET.
For all of you cowboys out there who think you’re going to save the world when the shit hits the fan — and this is coming from a person who owns, maintains, and practices operating his weapons systems — please know that there are so many things you could do by pulling your sidearm that could cause people around you to get shot. Here’s a few scenarios:
- You’re in an actual Active Shooter situation, and you were too gung-ho about pulling your gun out so you were identified by the gunmen, so now you and all of the innocents around you are going to be the victim to a hail of bullets, all because you wanted to be a hero.
- You THINK you’re in an active shooter situation… and you pulling out your pistol gets you shot dead because others around you were also quick on the draw and not so quick on the intellectual steps following up to even unsnapping your trigger guard. Mistaken identity, friendly fire. You’re still dead as shit.
- Same situation, you THINK you’re in an Active Shooter situation, and the police onsite mistake you for the shooter. You’re fucking dead. Have you watched the news lately? Police are NOT AFRAID to shoot you, they are protecting their own lives and managing their own agendas. Not all, but many. Oh, and they’re trained to land their lead into you. Repeatedly.
- Let’s say you’re fortunate enough to not only have some excellent cover, but to be excellent under fire. What if you miss? What if you miss and you make the attackers aware to your location? Can you shoot back under a hail of automatic gunfire? Chances are, if people are storming some place that is going to have a ton of people in it, they’re going to have some kind of multi-round-firing, high magazine capacity device. The largest concealed carry magazine I can fit in my pants in .45 is 9 rounds. In 9mm, I carry 10 rounds on me, and in .40, I carry 8. Do any of those match up to 30 rounds per clip of assault rifle ammunition? No, they do not. You will get shot dead.
IF YOUR BOSSES ALLOW YOU TO CARRY CONCEALED AS PER YOUR PERMITTED STATUS ALLOWS, you should already know the next four rules I am going to list. If you haven’t heard of these four rules and you’re carrying, please go put a trigger lock on your pistol, lock that bitch up, and sign up for a Pistol Safety and Self Defense course quick.
These four rules make sure that you don’t have accidents. People cleaning their guns who shoot themselves are full of shit, they did not follow the Four Rules of Firearm Safety. If you are dead set on deterring or defeating the threat in an active shooter situation and there are not already TRAINED ASSAULTING FORCES aiding in your rescue… You have GOT to remember…
THE FOUR RULES OF FIREARM OPERATION AND SAFETY
- TREAT EVERY FIREARM LIKE IT IS LOADED, EVEN WHEN YOU ARE SURE IT IS NOT.
- NEVER, EVER POINT THE MUZZLE (THE END WITH THE HOLE) OF THE FIREARM AT ANYTHING YOU’RE NOT COMPLETELY WILLING TO DESTROY
- NEVER EVEN PUT YOUR FINGER ON THE TRIGGER OF A FIREARM UNLESS YOU ARE READY AND WILLING TO FIRE
- ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS: BE SURE OF YOUR TARGET, AND WHAT IS BEYOND YOUR TARGET
The last rule is so extremely important when you think you want to be a cowboy in an active shooter situation. When you miss while dodging automatic weapon fire after feeling the need to shoot back INSTEAD OF GETTING THE HELL OUT, what happens if you kill an innocent bystander? That isn’t collateral damage of war, you’re not a trained fighter. You just killed someone’s mom, dad, sister, brother, wife, husband, lover, friend. Dead. It would have been better to lie flat, and get out.
Also, you’re not trained in determining who and what is a suspicious target, nor is it your responsibility.
But… when all else fails — police security, private security hires, private contractors, local security… when all of that is exhausted and you find yourself in a situation where you and other people are going to die because a terrorist attacker is about on you, do whatever you can do to keep hidden and safe and get out. Or, when all of those options are exhausted and the terrorist assholes are bearing down on your position, do whatever you can do. If you have a sidearm, use it safely while watching that you’re not going to make some additional innocent people collateral damage. But you better be goddamned sure that if you start shooting, you knew you had no other option but to die. That’s why we can have Concealed Weapons permits.
ALICE is actually a pretty cool acronym:
- ALERT: Use Plain and Specific Language. Avoid Code Words.
- LOCKDOWN: Barricade the Room. Silence Mobile Devices. Prepare to EVACUATE or COUNTER if Needed.
- INFORM. Communicate the Shooter’s Location in Real Time.
- COUNTER. Create Noise, Movement, Distance and Distraction with the Intent of Reducing the Shooter’s Ability to Shoot Accurately.
- EVACUATE. When Safe to Do So, Remove Yourself from the Danger Zone.
More things in mind that tell you NOT TO STICK AROUND unless you are TRAPPED. GET OUT, GET OUT, GET OUT OF THE LINE OF FIRE.
Patrick Dierson Interview, Part 1
What If I’m Attacked at Work? A Crew Primer
Rick Reeves and Matt Hazard, Part 2
What If I’m Attacked at Work? A Crew Primer
Brendon Grimes, Part 3
What If I’m Attacked at Work? A Crew Primer