It was late in the morning in Austin, Texas, in 1966, when a lone gunman ascended the stairs of the Main Building Tower high above the University of Texas at Austin campus, where he began his attack …
It was late in the morning in Austin, Texas, in 1966, when a lone gunman ascended the stairs of the Main Building Tower high above the University of Texas at Austin campus, where he began his attack after reaching the observation deck of the tower's 27th floor.
Moments later he began shooting at those on the floor before moving out onto the observation deck to resume his killing spree on hundreds of unsuspecting college students and others far below.
The shooter killed 17 students and wounded 31 others, before being shot by police officers approximately 90 minutes after his attack had begun.
The fateful year of 1966 is when mass shootings in the United States began their steady rise to the epidemic proportions seen today, Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security agent Dewey Woody told Cleveland Rotary Club members during a recent luncheon.
"Most people think it all started at Columbine High School in Colorado," Woody said. "But it started in 1966 and picked up after Columbine."
Woody said his job is to help monitor potential threats. In addition, he conducts training sessions to help people be prepared in the event of an attack.
While it may seem that innocent people have no recourse in case of an attack, Woody said one can greatly increase the chance of survival by simply taking an inventory of the surroundings.
He said perpetrators are increasingly narrowing their attack planning cycles.
"Today, it is down to days and hours," Woody said.
The typical shooter is likely a young male who has been bullied, is from a broken home and has no direction in life.
He noted that those who knew the young man who shot students at a high school in Parkland, Fla., sensed that he would someday snap.
"They said he would be the next [mass shooter]," Woody said.
He shot 34 students, killing 17.
In another incident, a man murdered 49 people in a nightclub in Orlando, Fla., wounding 53 others before he was killed by police officers.
Woody said the perpetrators typically choose the locations where they will carry out their shootings based on the number victims they can target.
"The Orlando shooter went to the nightclub because he knew there would be lots of victims," Woody said.
However, Woody said there are several ways to avoid becoming a victim.
"Have a plan of escape," he said.
First, he advises taking an inventory of exit signs and doors to become acclimated to an area, such as in an office building or a restaurant where people congregate.
"Know where the closest exits are," Woody said.
In addition, he said to refrain from panicked running that could result in people getting crushed during a frenzied dash to escape.
In the event a shooting situation does occur, Woody listed three things to put into practice:
First, run, escape, evaluate. Run and escape the area as quickly as possible, then evaluate the situation and call for help.
Second, if one cannot escape the area, hide, barricade oneself in a room and lock the doors.
Third, if the preceding are not possible, one must fight and take action.
Woody said that in today's world, everyone must be observant of their surroundings and respond by calling 911 if someone seems a threat.
"If you see something, say something," Woody said. "If that occurs to you, then take it to the next step and make that call."
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