The tragic events where someone enters a building armed with guns and plans only to kill or wound as many people as possible have sadly become more frequent across the country and around the world in recent years.
While such “active shooter incidents,” as they are called, have been quite rare in DeSoto County, the possibility of such tragedies actually happening were cause for the Olive Branch Chamber of Commerce this week to offer an Active Shooter Response Training Seminar, presented by Olive Branch Police Lt. Kevin McKenzie.
The interest in the seminar was high enough that the original plan of just one session Tuesday morning was expanded to add an afternoon session, both held inside the Chamber’s Business Center in the city’s Old Towne area.
Statistics bear out the reason for the interest from the business community in how to avoid and react to an active shooter event in the workplace.
McKenzie pointed out that there have been 160 incidents nationally in the period between 2000-2013, with an additional 40 shootings between 2014-2015.
More than 45 percent of the shootings have taken place inside a place of commerce, as in an office or retail setting. Schools have seen 24.4 percent of the shooting incidents and 10 percent took place at government locations.
On average, 20 shooting events have taken place each year over the past seven years, with a high of 26 having occurred in 2010. That amounts to an average of one every three weeks.
It is quite hard to determine a common demographic for a possible shooter, McKenzie pointed out. Although a shooter is predominantly male, the age range can be from pre-teen to as old as an 89-year-old man.
McKenzie related the story of Mississippi’s Luke Woodham of Pearl, a 16-year-old boy at the time when, in 1997, he killed his mother at their home, then went to the high school, shot two students to death and wounded seven others before being captured and held by a school administrator for police to arrest him.
Even an incident in the Olive Branch Industrial Park in 2003 was related, where a girlfriend and her boyfriend died when the girl’s previous boyfriend got into a domestic incident with her, found and shot the pair in a warehouse.
Prevention, response and recovery were three keys McKenzie pointed to as means of surviving an active shooter situation.
“It’s important to…