Active shooter presentation highlights dangers of deadly situations

An active shooter presentation held at Nielsen on Dec. 14 highlighted what to do should you find yourself in the deadly situation.

Run. Hide. Fight.

Those are the three rules of thumb law enforcement officials recommend citizens follow should they find themselves in an active shooter situation.

Last week, the Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce hosted an active shooter presentation at Nielsen Media headquarters in Oldsmar, where Pinellas County Sheriff’s Deputy Charles Skipper used a video and a PowerPoint slide show to demonstrate the harsh realities of such incidents, which, unfortunately, are all too common occurrences today.

“I found I’ve been doing these more often, especially this year,” Skipper said prior to the start of the event on Thursday, Dec. 14, noting he’s “been doing 3-4 a month in the north county, at schools, churches, government offices and businesses.”

“Unfortunately, as these things become more and more commonplace, they no longer follow any set rules or patterns.”

Pinellas County Sheriff’s Deputy Charles Skipper conducted a presentation on active shooter situations at Nielsen Media headquarters in Oldsmar on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017.

After playing the video, which was produced by the Los Angeles Sherriff’s Department and depicts a realistic reenactment of an active shooter incident at a fictitious college, Skipper emphasized how quickly these situations typically unfold.

“These things happen extremely fast—usually in about two to five minutes—and they’re extremely violent,” he said.

“So, your reaction time is critical.”

Skipper then emphasized the three rules to follow.

“Getting out seems like obvious advice, but these things happen so fast, and you’re so unexperienced, it takes the brain a few seconds to process what’s happening,” he said.

Roughly 20 people, including Oldsmar Mayor Doug Bevis (left, purple shirt) attended the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office active-shooter presentation, hosted by the Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce, at Nielsen headquarters in Oldsmar on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017.

Skipper added those confronted with such situations should “use any available means to escape,” noting windows, fire escapes and emergency exits are all in play.

“And if you can’t leave, get to a secure area,” he said. “An interior room, a mop closet, somewhere that provides adequate protection from bullets. And make sure you don’t alert the shooter to your presence. Silence your cell phones. That’s something people don’t usually think of.”

Skipper explained that if running and hiding are not options and victims are forced to confront the attacker, a person should use any available object to defend themselves.

“Find an improvised weapon—a broom, a tool, a fire extinguisher,” he said.

“If you’re licensed to carry a concealed weapon and you think you’re a good enough shot, use it. There’s no rules with this. Every option is on the table to defend yourself, including killing him. But my advice would be to run or hide first. Don’t try to be a hero. It’s not your job to protect the food court at the mall.”

Oldsmar Mayor Doug Bevis (r) addresses the audience near the conclusion of the active shooter presentation held at Nielsen Media headquarters on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017.

Near the conclusion of the 90-minute presentation, Oldsmar Mayor Doug Bevis spoke about the harsh realities we all face in today’s world.

“It’s unfortunate we have to think this way, but these things can happen anywhere,” Bevis told the crowd of roughly 20, noting, “It has happened here in Oldsmar,” citing a man who came to a Code Enforcement meeting and faked having a gun.

“You just never know.”

After the event, the mayor elaborated on the reason for hosting the presentation.

“After the shootings at the church in Texas, I thought we needed to provide a forum for those in the community who would rather be aware than not,” Bevis told Oldsmar Connect, referencing the Nov. 5 incident in Sutherland Springs, TX, in which a gunman killed 26 parishioners.

“It’s a shame we have to have these things, but it’s better to know something and never have to use it than need it and not know it.”

“We’re never going to stop these things, but if by hosting these presentations people can take one thing away from it that might save their life, then it’s worth it.”

For more information on the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Active-Shooter presentation, contact Dept. Charles Skipper at , call 727-582-5661, or visit

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