In an indicator of the times this week, members of the SCV Water Agency board joined the growing ranks of educators, postal workers and federal employees who have all been briefed about active shooter awareness.
On Monday, former law enforcement officer Oscar Lizardi gave agency directors an hour-long lesson in learning how to stay alive in the event of an active shooter incident.
Lizardi was shot at by a gunman during an “active shooter” incident in Riverside long before the term was coined. He wasn’t hit but three of his fellow officers were. All three survive their injuries.
Lizardi took from the experience the firsthand insight of what happens during such a shooting, what to avoid and what to do.
He turned that insight into a company now in constant demand as school shootings and workplace shootings make headlines. He is now the president of Lizardi Training Center, based in Placentia.
“It’s hard to tell you, ‘What’s going to prevent an active shooter situation.’ In working with the FBI, and after 17 years of doing this, I cannot tell you what it is. The FBI can’t tell you that this, definitively, is going to prevent it,” Lizardi said.
“We’re not there, yet. Through these steps, however, we can provide an awareness training,” he said.
One of the first bits of information Lizardi shared with board members were some worrisome statistics, including a look at the results of 50 such shootings in 2016 and 2017.
Statistics gathered from those 50 active shooter incidents in those two years included:
- 943 casualties, reflecting 221 people killed, 722 wounded.
- 13 law enforcement officers killed, 20 wounded
- 20 “mass killings”
- 50 shooters
- 13 committed suicide
- 11 killed by police
- 8 stopped by citizens
- 18 apprehended by police
An active shooter, Lizardi told the board, is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.
He grouped active shooter incidents into four categories: violence by strangers, customers and clients, co-workers and personal relationships.
Lizardi emphasized one thing in particular during his presentation: Be aware of your surroundings, specifically saying to put down the cell phone and pay attention.
“If you take only one thing from this presentation, at the very least take this with you,” he said. “Be mindful.”
He cited examples of pedestrians hit by cars because they were looking at their phones and not the street and of convenience store customers walking in on a robbery because they were on their cell phones.
“Poor situational awareness makes it difficult to identify threats and difficult to respond to them,” he said.
On Twitter @jamesarthurholt