Live 5 Investigates: Surviving an Active Shooter

VIDEO: Live 5 Investigates: Surviving an Active Shooter
Published: Apr. 28, 2016 at 10:00 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 29, 2016 at 9:07 PM EDT
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Group practicing fighting moves (Source: Live 5)
Group practicing fighting moves (Source: Live 5)
Source: Live 5
Source: Live 5
Source: Live 5
Source: Live 5

WEST ASHLEY, SC (WCSC) - A local self-defense company is jumping in to action to try to make sure your children are safe in school.

There were over 300 mass shootings in 2015 alone. They happened at offices, schools, movie theater, and even churches including Mother Emanuel AME in downtown Charleston.

Self Defense trainers say eight times out of ten active killer situations are stopped by force. This means law enforcement or even an innocent bystander makes the decision to step up, and fight.

MOBILE USERS: Click here for bonus videos of active shooter scenarios.

Experts say suspects in past mass shootings target vulnerable places, as mentioned.

Although some experts say training in fighting could help decrease the number of deaths in these situations.

"I wanted to know how to save my children," said Meryl Huckabey. "I think I'm responsible for all those young lives."

Huckabey teaches Special Education at Georgetown High School.

Instead of relaxing on her weekend, she's in a classroom at Charleston Krav Maga and MMA in West Ashley.

Meryl is in a class of two dozen people, here to learn how to survive an active shooter.

The Department of Homeland Security says to RUN... HIDE... FIGHT.

These classes take you beyond that advice.

"Everybody knows how to run, everybody knows how to hide," said Ryan Hoover, founder of Fit to Fight. "Those are things you've known since you were a kid, but fighting... what does that mean to the average third grade teacher."

Hoover travels the world teaching people how to defend themselves from an active shooter.

"We didn't really start going after schools, businesses, churches and things until after Sandy Hook," he said.

On its website, Charleston Krav Maga & MMA claims to be the only gym certified to offer the Fit to Fight program in the Lowcountry.

The gym offers free active shooter seminars to teachers, administrators and students.

Their message, you are the first responder, and you may need to fight.

"If I'm inside a classroom, if I'm inside an office, and the first thing that comes through is the gun, then I'm gonna try to get the gun," Hoover said during the demonstration.
The most important move in this situation is redirecting the line of fire.

"Two initial movements, redirect, and the second hand is control," Hoover said. "I'm gonna control at the wrist as best I can."

Hoover says redirect is important because it keeps others in the room from being shot.

Additionally, you don't think you can go for the shooter's gun, Hoover says you can try tackling.

"I'm going to hit him with my shoulder, at his knees, grab his legs, and drive with my whole body," he demonstrated. "As soon as I'm here, I'm going to climb up on his back and wear him out!"

It's also important to know the right way to get away or run through a crowd.

"I want to make myself as thin as possible as I move through the crowd," said Matt Robinson, Owner of Charleston Krav Maga & MMA.

Hide is another option. Most important, cover versus concealment.

"Concealing me is only hiding," Robinson said. "It's not going to stop bullets, it's not going to be anything that's going to save my life if he does come in and spray the room."

This means closets, or turning over bookshelves and tables.

"Cover. If I can hide behind a wall that's cinder block and filled, that might stop bullets too," Robinson added.

In real life, you need to be ready to use any or all of these options depending on the situation.

We checked with all six local school districts to see what security protocols they have regarding active shooter situations.

They all review emergency plans at the beginning of the year, have School Resource Officers, practice lockdown drills at least once a year, and have made physical improvements to entrances and the schools in their district, including bullet resistant glass.

At least Berkeley County and Dorchester District 2 have taken part in a demonstration by the FBI to recognize the sounds of shots fired from different distances inside a school.

But, none of the districts are teaching their employees these hand-on fighting techniques.

Berkeley County is teaching its principals basic self-defense.

"They're doing a fantastic job of implementing stuff that is going to keep their schools safer," Robinson said.

Principals are learning how to avoid being choked or punched.

The district hopes to include teachers and all staff in the training in the future.

Robinson knows firsthand what it's like to be the first line of defense for students. He was an English teacher in the Berkeley County School District for four years, teaching at Cross High and Sedgefield Middle.

"Their mindset, as far as the safety of their schools, is second to none," he said.

The Director of Safety and Risk Management for Georgetown County Schools said teaching staff how to fight isn't practical because it's a skill that requires practice.

Hoover and Robinson believe their training has a place in school safety plans.

"In more than eight times out of ten active killer events are stopped with force. Period," Hoover said.

"We can fight back," Robinson added. "We do have options besides cowering in a corner and hoping they don't find us."

"I feel like there's hope," Huckabey said. "I feel if there are people who are willing to intervene... that lives can be saved."

Both Hoover and Robinson said you're not going to be an expert after taking one of these classes.

It does take constant training and practice on these skills.

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