Gurnee police have launched an initiative with tips on increasing the chances of survival if someone shoots up a mall, school or other locations.
Crime prevention technician Tom Agos hosted the first of five scheduled sessions Wednesday afternoon at Gurnee Mills' show court. About 15 people watched a training video called "Shots Fired! When Lightning Strikes" and asked some questions of Agos afterward.
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Agos said the 17-minute training video has information unlike any other screened by Gurnee police, such as the importance of potential victims placing their hands in the air and not making quick movements when officers enter a shooting scene. He said while the odds of ever needing the information are low, knowing when to confront a shooter instead of fleeing and other tips from the program are valuable.
"I think this is just one of those things that will build momentum," Agos said after the session. "It's a scary topic for a lot of people."
Wednesday's presentation came six days after authorities said a gunman at a Minneapolis workplace fatally shot five people and injured five, then killed himself. Police said the man was fired from a job that he had since the late 1990s.
Police Cmdr. Jay Patrick said Gurnee Mills' parent company, Simon Property Group, worked with Patrol Officer Dan Wielgat, who's part of the visitor-oriented policing unit, to bring the active shooter response training to mall employees and visitors. He compared it to videos presented by flight attendants on how passengers should prepare for crash situations.
Agos said "Shots Fired!" is geared for civilians and not law enforcement. He said officials decided to buy the $895 video after receiving positive feedback when a screening copy was shown to the Gurnee Citizens Police Academy about a year ago.
Residents received the gun violence training sessions as part of Neighborhood Watch meetings in August and September. Agos said about 65 residents attended the Sept. 20 Neighborhood Watch session for Gurnee's northeast side and that some were particularly startled by the video information on when to go after a shooter.
"People liked it," Agos said. "People asked a lot of good questions. There was a bit of a 'wow' factor from some people because of what's in it."
Other Gurnee Mills sessions at the show court near Entry G are set for 1 p.m. Oct. 9, 1 p.m. Oct. 19 and at 1 and 5 p.m. Oct. 27. The entire presentation, including the video and question-and-answer portion, runs 30 to 45 minutes.
Agos said "Shots Fired!" will be incorporated into self-defense lessons police will provide to students at Gurnee-based Woodland Elementary District 50. He also said two manufacturing businesses with more than 230 employees combined have inquired about the gun violence program.