Random Violence

There is a lot of talk and concern lately over these random violent attacks. As a personal preference, I like to not “date” my articles unless I am writing about a specific event, but with the frequency of these attacks right now it seems that it will not take a great deal of imagination or personal research to find a pile of stories. Here, I am going to write about random violence and answer those questions I have been receiving about the topic.

By its very nature, random violence is, well…random. This makes prediction highly challenging for the most part.

Having said that…common sense needs to still be used.

When your company fires a person who is known to have been prone to violent outbursts, a period of higher awareness is probably called for. Even if the person was not known for violent outbursts, but walked out on his last day muttering threats, or has been posting rants on social media, again, raise the levels of awareness and security.As politically incorrect as it is to mention it; there is a disturbing circumstance where these jihad movements are becoming trendy. If you know someone who has suddenly begun reciting the jihad buzz lines, there is a warning sign.

With the exception of the incidents of violence for the sake of violence, a key point is usually found; an event that pushed a person past what they see as a point of no return. Careful consideration and awareness can make predicting these violent attacks a bit more possible.

There are other random acts of violence where the person has no connection whatsoever with the people or place he attacks. So, this leads us right back to the place where we started, what can we do about attacks when we have no time to prepare.

Here is my list, incomplete though it may be in the eyes of some, at least it is a good start:

  1. Don’t try to convince yourself that “it’s probably nothing”. This is a mistake that can cost lives. If something seems out of the ordinary, either investigate to confirm it is nothing or notify security and let them investigate to find out whether or not it truly is nothing. A stranger, former employee of the place where you work, anyone who should not or even simply perhaps should not be there should have someone check and be sure there is a reason for them to be there.
  2. Stay aware. There is a reason this is the advice given in nearly any self-defense/self-protection class worth the money; it is terribly important. This is more than just being aware that someone is here who should not be here, but how are they acting, are they nervous, are they pale or are they red faced? There are so many factors to consider, but they all boil down to trusting your gut. Sometimes there is just a feeling that something isn’t right. This is not a paranormal power, but rather, your survival instincts. We do not listen to them as much as we should.
  3. If the event is happening, take action (whatever that means to you). Once things start happening, the worst thing you can do is nothing. People tell stories of freezing through the entire event, and others do not survive to tell that same story. This is a typical freeze response. Take action as soon as you can. For most people, this action should be leaving the scene or hiding somewhere safe. Precise advice cannot be given because of the rapidly changing nature of these types of attacks and the many variables involved. The basic advice I give most students is pretty straight forward. If you are dead, you cannot help anyone. So escape or hide is probably the best thing to do first. If you are a take charge kind of person, or if you are a person who is a manager or director where you work, then the subordinates are probably going to instinctively look to you for direction. Direct them to exit or hide (if there is a gunman between you and the exit, hiding becomes the better option). If you cannot escape or if your hiding place has been found, you may need to fight. Buy yourself some time by putting whatever is available to barricade the door. Arm yourself with makeshift weapons. You can use fire extinguishers, chairs, break off a table leg, paperweights, pens, telephone receivers, coffee mugs, coffee pots, loaded staplers, flashlights, books, binders, laptop/desktop or tablet computers – anything that can be picked up can used as a weapon. For this list I just looked around  where I am sitting and left out all of the martial arts weapons. 
  4. Notify the authorities. As soon as you are able to do so, notify the authorities. Never assume that someone else already has. Adding to the importance, if you are inside where the incident is taking place, then you will be able to give information that someone else may not have; the number of people where you are, or even in the building, where you are hiding, maybe even a description of the gunman. Every bit of information helps.
  5. When law enforcement arrives, do what they say. The law enforcement personnel are highly trained. They will also give commands that you will need to follow. Their language may or may not seem friendly. But they know what they are doing. Do not point, do not yell and do not move anywhere that they have not told you to go. They might tell you to stay where you are. Do what they say. They have a plan and will follow it, and they will be on an adrenaline rush like you would not believe. In such a state, it is not good for you to surprise them. They are trained to take control of a situation and it is in your best interest to follow their commands.

Just like any other self-defense situation, these incidents boil down to awareness and the willingness to have a plan. Sometimes it is not easy to think about what to do if this violence happens to you, but it is better to have a plan and not ever use it.