JOHNSON COUNTY — Four months ago, a man walked into the food court at Greenwood Park Mall and killed 3 people.
The deadly shooting rocked the Johnson County community, but people we talked to say they refuse to live in fear and they are preparing for those worst case scenario situations.
Businesses across the county came together this week for a special active shooter and workplace violence training at Franklin Community High School.
“Hopefully they take something away,” said retired Johnson County Sheriff’s Deputy John O’Rourke, who led the training. “If we can save one life, then it is worth it.”
O’Rourke says there are three steps or options people have in what he calls an active killer situation, keeping in mind the perpetrators may use a gun but could use a number of things for a weapon, including a vehicle.
“If people don’t understand this, they are going to freeze and that is what the majority of the people do, they freeze,” said O’Rourke. “They run or they fight, but most people freeze, unfortunately.”
The goal of this training is to get people not to freeze and have the tools and knowledge to protect themselves. If you have to fight, O’Rourke says, fight life your life depends on it, because it does.
“[We want you to] just to be able to think ‘I know what that is and I’m going to do this,'” said O’Rourke.
O’Rourke says it is all about getting past the doubt in people’s minds that this situation is happening. He says the training reminds people this can happen anywhere and you need to take action to survive.
“When people hear something or see something, the first thing they want to [do], and it’s a bad thing, they want to deny it,” said O’Rourke. “So denial is the first step there. Get past that denial step.”
Aspire Johnson County hosted the training. The organization works to support economic development across the county and bring business owners together.
Aspire members and local business owners Jill and David Harding attended the training. The married couple are coaches and own CG Fit Body Bootcamp in the Center Grove community and have three children.
They made health a priority after two of their children underwent serious medical complications, and they want to help people in the community do the same.
“I don’t really enjoy working out, but I know it’s important,” said Jill. “So when you say 30 minutes and you still get a good workout, I’m like ok.”
Coach Jill says in their group fitness setting, no one works out alone and you have a coach with you the entire time helping you through the high intensity interval training.
Coach David worked as an ICU nurse during the pandemic and saw how unhealthy lifestyles contributed to co-morbidities, and that sparked the idea of opening their business in a community they hold close.
“Here we are trying to make an impact in our little piece of the world right here,” says David.
Both David and Jill say they feel responsible for their gym members and their safety inside their business, which is why they attended the training.
“The events that happened about 4 months ago really highlight the idea that no community is really immune,” said David.
“We are responsible for the people who come into this gym. I mean these are our members, they become our family members,” Jill said.
Here are some takeaways from the Active Shooter Training program:
Some of the material covered at the training include the steps run, hide or fight. Attendees learned to run away and avoid the incident. If that can’t happen, then hide. Hiding may include turning lights out, locking and barricading a door, staying out of sight and silencing your phone. If running and hiding are not possible, then you need to be able to fight.
The training also includes knowing where your exits are located and tools around you that you could use to distract, like a fire extinguisher or sprinkler system.
Some other tips provided at the training are learning some first aid skills, like how to make a turnstile. The training encourages people to wait until they are safe to call 9-1-1 and to do that before calling family or friends.
O’Rourke explains that it takes police a few minutes to get to the scene, and that law enforcement will go straight to the attacker and not stop to help the injured. Other first responders will go to the wounded. Anyone on stage should show their hands and follow commands and only give information when asked.
If any person at the scene is carrying a weapon themselves, listen to police and obey their commands to lay down the weapon. O’Rourke encouraged anyone who carries a weapon to be trained well, and remember that you are responsible for any bullet you fire.
There is a second training available to the public on Wednesday, November 30. This one will be held at the Greenwood Public Library and run from 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm
Registration is required but the training program is free for attendees. You do not have to be a current Aspire Johnson County member to attend this training.
To learn more about events and programming put on through Aspire Johnson County, you can visit their website.