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"Shooter" Tabitha Richards takes aim at Melanie Mays (second from right) as fellow teachers Linda Romey, Tammy Ruegsegger and trainer Bill Kohlmeyer look on.
March 13, 2013
PERRYDALE -- These teachers didn't wait to be rescued.
When faced with an armed intruder, they took matters into their own hands, distracting and ultimately stopping him after only a few shots.
Those "shots" were from a Nerf gun and the "shooter" was Perrydale Athletic Director Chris Gubrud. He was "taken down" by a foursome of fellow teachers throwing Nerf balls at his head and covering his face with a jacket as part of a staff safety training seminar Friday.
The whole incident was over within a few seconds and was an example of the type of action trainer Bill Kohlmeyer said is a good defense when trapped in a building with a shooter.
"The absolute wrong thing to do is to do nothing," said Kohlmeyer, a Perrydale School Board Member and current director of safety at Chemeketa Community College. "You have to think about getting out. You have to think about surviving on your own. You can't wait to be rescued."
Perrydale Schools Superintendent Robin Stoutt invited Kohlmeyer to give the presentation to provide school staff a different perspective on strategies to take if confronted by a violent intruder.
Kohlmeyer highlighted that prevention should be the first line of defense. He said shootings and other violent incidents can be prevented by creating an atmosphere where people feel comfortable reporting potential threats.
Kohlmeyer also dispelled myths, saying that while most suspects involved in mass shootings have emotional problems, there is no definitive "profile" of a shooter.
He added that in most cases, there are warning signs that, if taken seriously, could stop a catastrophe before it starts.
"There is always somebody who knows something," he said.
But if all else fails, Kohlmeyer said people should follow these steps: "Run, hide, fight."
"Most of these incidents are over before the police get there," Kohlmeyer said, noting in a school as remote as Perrydale, help could be as much as 15 minutes away.
He said once an incident starts, look for an escape route and take as many people with you as possible. If escaping is not an option, hide and make it difficult for an attacker to get to you by locking doors or barricading yourself.
Kohlmeyer said, like water, shooters will follow the path of least resistance; the more difficult you make it for them to find you, the better your chances are for survival.
He said most shooting suspects aren't experienced with firearms and may not be able to hit a moving target. Never just sit or lay down on a shooter's orders, Kohlmeyer said. Fight back instead.
"These people are cowards and they go places where they figure people can't defend themselves," Kohlmeyer said.
Kohlmeyer said people can go on the counteroffensive with ordinary objects -- fire extinguishers, chairs or anything that can be thrown at a shooter's head or face. Once distracted, a shooter is easier to take down.
"The scenario is that you've heard shots. You know that people have been killed. All bets are off," Kohlmeyer said. "You can do anything you want to to that guy. And you should because he is a threat."
Stoutt said information from the seminar will be used to spark discussions as school staff prepares a safety plan. She said in the past, the school has used a "lock down and hide" strategy, but Kohlmeyer's presentation may drive the school to explore what other approaches could be appropriate.
"Hopefully, we will never, ever have to deal with any of this, but we want to be as prepared as we possibly can be," she said.