NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. — In the aftermath of the recent mass shooting at Tops on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo, and many others that have taken place in communities across the country, the City of North Tonawanda is stepping up to educate the community on what to do in an active shooter scenario.
On Thursday evening North Tonawanda Police hosted a free Civilian Response Course that provided strategies, guidance and tips or surviving active shooter events.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, an online database that collects information and research on gun violence, there have been 254 mass shootings this year alone - including the latest one in Maryland on Thursday afternoon which left three people dead and multiple others injured.
NT Police Keith Glass tells 2 On Your Side's Liz Lewin their hope in hosting this program is to equip as many people as possible with the knowledge on how to manage their stress during these type of scary situations so they can appropriately respond.
"It's about having the mindset of being able to take a deep breath, realize what's happened and take action," Chief Glass said. "The first thing we tell you is if something doesn't feel right, get out, get out of the building."
Veteran Lieutenant Nick Iwanicki and recently retired Detective Steve Endres co-led the presentation. Both men are experience Tonawanda-North Tonawanda SWAT team members.
"Obviously we can't get there fast enough," Detective Endres says, "So that's why you have to pay attention to your surroundings."
Be alert, know your surroundings, and if you see something say something.
"We aren't paying attention. Or if we do see it, we ignore it. This is where the vigilance in this presentation comes in," Det. Endres continued.
Lt. Iwanicki stressed, "it's not one specific person committing these attacks. Males and females have committed these attacks."
During active shooter situations it's important to remember these three words: Avoid, Deny, Defend.
Avoid - pay attention to your surroundings and move away from the source of threat as quickly as possible.
Deny - Create barriers to prevent or slow down the threat from getting to you.
Defend - Be prepared to defend yourself, this is about survival.
Mayor Austin Tylec says depending on community feedback he's open to hosting more of these educational programs in the future.