From Inside A SWAT Team Responding To A Mass Shooting

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Tom Demerly is a blog writer and he got a chance to not only see the Dearborn, MI Police SWAT Team train, he got to train with them.

Embedded with the SWAT Team, they respond to a call of a mass shooter. At least that is the training scenario. They use the Ford Research and Innovation Building for this training scenario. Inside is a re-enactment of a mass shooting. Victims and hostages all throughout the building. Tom watches and learns how stressful it is to have to hunt down the suspect. Every person is a suspect. Ever corner or innocuous piece of furniture could be a potential hiding spot for the shooter.

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Tom’s after action report is some interesting reading. Click here to read the entire article.



Nicholas C

Co-Founder of KRISSTALK forums, an owner’s support group and all things KRISS Vector related. Nick found his passion through competitive shooting while living in NY. He participates in USPSA and 3Gun. He loves all things that shoots and flashlights. Really really bright flashlights.

Any questions please email him at nicholas.c@staff.thefirearmblog.com


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  • LazyReader

    *20 minutes – 1 hour later
    dozen plus dead, shooter takes own life, nothing for SWAT to do but clean up the mess.
    It’s not that the cops are terrible it’s just it takes them forever. the first responder is you…..Your response can be return fire or “Please God Save me!”

    • Joe Schmo

      If the shooter is there just to kill people, he will likely be done within that time frame. Like you said, he’ll probably kill himself. Maybe a larger force is required to cover ground more quickly. I doubt that larger force would hinder their ability or alert the shooter anymore than he would be. A mass shooter probably knows the police will come, so they have to get there quickly and find the shooter quickly.

      But, that’s easier said than done. The real answer is like you said, carry a gun and return fire. A situation like in this exercise could be avoided in real life. Train well, be ready.

      • AD

        One argument that has been presented to me that I didn’t have a really good answer for was something along the lines of “Won’t it cause more confusion having lots of people waving guns around? How will people know who was the original shooter and who’s just trying to defend themselves?”

        The best I’ve been able to come up with is that’s kind of a worst-case scenario, in real life if people are armed then there’s at least a decent chance that someone will take down the hostile shooter, and while there’s still potential for misunderstandings after that at least no-one will be actively targeting unarmed civilians.

        Of course that’s all just theory.

        • Bill

          “Won’t it cause more confusion having lots of people waving guns around? How will people know who was the original shooter and who’s just trying to defend themselves?”

          Yes; see the nitwits in Dallas who were open carrying their ARs because it was their right to.

        • DIR911911 .

          good guys with guns are usually very quick to point guns away and put them down QUICK when the badges come into view, I know I would.

        • Logic Rules

          ***”Won’t it cause more confusion having lots of people waving guns around? How will people know who was the original shooter and who’s just trying to defend themselves?”***

          #FacePalm Take the points I’m about to make and spread them everywhere so these stupid arguments can be refuted.

          The easy solution to that problem is that you DON’T DRAW YOUR GUN unless you are being fired upon at that very moment or you are certain that the killer is right around the corner. And you certainly never wave it around (I know you were speaking figuratively, but the lesson is valid).

          Suppose you’re at a store in the mall and you hear gunshots from the other end of the mall. There’s no reason whatsoever to draw your weapon at that moment. If you have to shelter in place, do so and find a good position to watch the entrance. Be prepared to draw, perhaps with your hand already on your weapon inside your coat or under your shirt, but don’t draw until the last possible moment. Remember, it could be a victim or even a cop that’s the next person to step around that corner.

          If you can’t resist the urge to try to find and stop the killer, you still DON’T DRAW YOUR GUN until the last possible moment. You can likely can follow the sounds and fleeing people and locate the killer without having to expose yourself in full view, so there’s no need to pull your weapon. If you peek around the corner and see a person shooting at someone who’s also shooting back, you don’t have enough information to know who the bad guy is so you DON’T DRAW YOUR GUN. Now, if the guy you came upon is wearing a ski mask or carrying a shotgun and wearing a trench coat (something not even a plain clothes police officer would wear) or if he looks just like Mr. Rogers but you see him shoot people in the back as they run away, that’s the bad guy. Look around real quick to make sure no cops are running up at that moment, then draw your gun, shoot him until he’s down, and then REHOLSTER YOUR GUN.

          How do you tell the difference between the good guy and the bad guy? It’s easy. If you see someone shooting multiple people in the back as they run away, that probably the bad guy! If you see someone shooting at the person who’s shooting people in the back as they run away, that’s probably the good guy!

          Off duty and plain clothes law enforcement officers are subject to the same problem. So if you find yourself in a discussion with someone who still thinks their “how do you know who the bad guy is” argument is a good one, just ask them if they advocate that off duty and plain clothes police officers be disarmed.

          Could a good guy possibly be mistaken for the bad guy and be shot and killed by the cops? Of course it could happen. There have been numerous tragedies where off duty and plain clothes police officers were shot and killed by uniformed officers who mistook them for the bad guy. Despite those tragedies, no one calls for disarming the cops since armed off duty and plain clothes police officers save many more lives than are lost in those tragedies. Could your seatbelt trap you in your car after an accident and cause you to burn to death? Sure, but the vast majority of the time that seatbelt will save your life.

          As for the utterly ridiculous argument that people might get caught in the crossfire; yes, the good guy MIGHT shoot you by ACCIDENT, but the bad guy WILL shoot you on PURPOSE. Anyone with half a brain will choose the possibility of being shot by accident over the certainty of being shot on purpose. By the way, cops tend to shoot bystanders all too often, so it’s not like they’re perfect.

          Please spread the above arguments around. Sadly, many pro-gun rights commentators and politicians doing television interviews will pathetically drop the ball when confronted with those anti-gun sound bites that sound logical at first but can be destroyed by the arguments I just laid out.

          • AD

            That sounds like good advice on how to react to hearing gunshots.

            The question I guess is what do most armed people actually do when they hear multiple gunshots from very close by. Do they leave their guns holstered and stay put or move in the opposite direction (as best as they can judge)? Or do they draw their weapons out of fear of imminent threat? You’re at a disadvantage after all if someone violent who already has their gun drawn turns a corner or something. In the event that an armed civilian has to actually SHOOT ANOTHER HUMAN BEING in order to save his own life, is going to holster the weapon afterwards or will he have too much residual fear – the original shooter might not have been alone after all?

            My point is that, while your advice sounds sensible, it’s not necessarily what average armed civilians will ACTUALLY do in real life when they suddenly find their lives threatened in an active shooter scenario. So I don’t know that it’s actually a good answer to the question of what would actually happen if there were armed civilians present when a madman goes postal.

            Of course, what you said about bad guys shooting you on purpose being a bigger threat than the chance of good guys shooting you by accident is I think a very, very strong argument in favour of being armed in such a situation, and makes a good response because it’s also quite simple to get across.

            The rest of your advice makes me think that the solution is not to disarm people, but rather to better teach them how to carry responsibly. As usual, education is the best solution.

      • Bill

        Usually, but there’s these cities named Dallas, Orlando and Baton Rouge….

  • MAF

    I was one of the volunteers… my legs are sticking out of one of the doorways. Good times.

    • Billy Jack

      You can tell people you got laid at a SWAT drill.

  • Joseph Goins

    It is a great article, but I would have liked to see a different scenario as active shooter response is moving away from SWAT. Your average uniformed officers are taught to search for contact, engage contact, and eliminate contact without waiting on SWAT. SWAT is by and large reserved now for high risk warrants, kinetic operations (explosives, boobytraps, etc.), hostage rescue, and special insertion situations.

    • Porty1119

      Especially in areas where SWAT is either completely unavailable or composed of officers from various departments with a lengthy response time, citizens’ and patrol officers’ responses are by far the most important. I’m pretty sure SWAT only gets used for meth lab raids, and then only some of the time.

    • Toxie

      SWAT doesn’t usually handle explosives or booby-traps. EOD does.

      • Joseph Goins

        Where I am from, SWAT is the bomb squad (unless they wait for the FBI/ATF).

  • HARDSHELL

    Wow, must be an exciting experience.

  • Reed Cz

    The article makes this all sound very impressive until looking at the pictures ruins it.

  • Captain Obvious

    Dearborn SWAT has had a number of real Active Shooter scenes to handle. One was a Post Office in 1993 and one at the local community college in 2009. There may have been others as well. Dearborn is a middle class suburb on the border with Detroit, population about 95,000. It is the hometown of Ford Motor Company (world HQ and Rouge Plant, not to mention numerous R&D, engineering, test track facilities all over town). It has a large shopping mall, host pro golf tournaments at the their TPC course, large museum (Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village) and has a number of large colleges and universities. It has the highest concentration of middle eastern people in the United States.

    Police used to carry Sigs but switched to Glocks awhile ago. The ARs used to be Bushmasters, not sure if they still use them. At least in ’09 most police cars did not have patrol rifles but each patrol district had a weapons car used by the Patrol Sergeant. It had ARs, MP5s, shotguns and heavy body armor for distribution to officers responding to major felony calls like armed robberies, barricaded gunmen, active shooters etc.

    • MAF

      ARs were Bushmasters running Eotech ( you can see in photos ).

  • elmer

    Funny, I work at this location……sitting here now checking out TFB:)

  • elmer

    Forgot to add that there is a no “weapons” policy on Ford grounds. Can’t even lock it up in the car.

  • noob

    How old are typical SWAT officers? It seems like you’d need 20 years of experience in an 18 year old body to perform like they do.