Everyone fears they could one day face a situation similar to what happened in Thousand Oaks, California. There have been mass shootings at many places people once felt safe.
Schools, churches, clubs, and movie theaters have all been targeted.
So is there anywhere left that people can completely let their guard down?
“I wish there was, but, what we've found through the research is, any active shooter event or active attack event is always a studied event,” said Coby Briehn, regional manager of Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training, or ALERRT.
When it comes to recent mass shootings, suspects appear to be more sophisticated, planning out all the details in advance, according to Briehn. “These events usually don't happen out of circumstance… They're studied. So if they're studying them, we need to be studying them too, so we know how to react both as officers and as citizens,” Briehn said.
ALERRT has been studying them for decades now. What they've found is that the best way to make it out alive is to be prepared no matter where you are. “You just have to always be aware, just always looking around you. Can position yourself certain ways? But just looking around to see where the exits are and watching people and what's going on,” said Briehn.
Briehn teaches people to avoid, deny and defend.
Meaning avoid the attack by getting away however possible, deny access by putting a barrier between the shooter and yourself, or defend by fighting back.
However, Briehn said escaping in a crowded bar can be more difficult. “Because they're large entity, they're usually a dark environment, usually loud so it's hard to ascertain where things are coming from,” Briehn said.
Bob Woody owns several bars in Austin’s entertainment district. He said news of what happened in Thousand Oaks hit very close to home. “It's something you have to think about and, of course, as young college students primarily, it was college night, it's tough, and it would be hard on anyone. So we take it very seriously and we will have talks about it,” said Woody.
All of Woody’s establishments have multiple security guards that constantly look out for anyone acting suspicious. “The last line of defense is the guy at the front door and it's a rarity that you're ever going to come to a venue, or my place in particular, and just see one guy working the door,” Woody said.
There are updates made to security on sixth street constantly according to Woody. That's why cars are no longer allowed to drive through the area during peak hours on weekends.
It's also why there are dozens of police officers patrolling at all times.
“Every year we assess it and make decisions, and make decisions that are more difficult to operate inside of, and we have to do it because, what did you do to make it safer? How did you try? What's the difference you made?” said Woody.
Briehn said although police generally respond in about three minutes, each person still needs to take responsibility for their own safety as a first line of defense.
“What happens in that 0-3 minutes? A lot can happen, obviously,” Briehn said.