ALERRT program trains Texas first responders on how to handle active shootings

A school shooting in Santa Clarita, Calif. left two students dead and a number injured Thursday. 

The attack took place at Saugus High School, a few miles north of Los Angeles. Authorities believe the shooter was a 16-year-old student who pulled a weapon out of his backpack. 

“When [the shooting] starts people need to get away as quickly as possible. They need to avoid being a target of opportunity for the killer if they can’t get away," said John Curnutt, assistant director of Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training. "They’re inside a building or they’re on a floor, where they just can’t get out or they’re gonna put themselves in greater danger. They should keep the suspect away or deny the suspect access to themselves or anybody else.”

He says that if all else fails, it’s time to defend yourself and those around you.

“But the ability, that's the thing that is difficult under those circumstances,” he said. 

ALERRT is a Texas program that trains first responders on how to best handle active shootings. 

On Thursday, there was a period of time the shooter was unaccounted for. Curnutt, who says he does not know the full details of the Santa Clarita shooting, said there is often a disconnect between what law enforcement knows and the public. 

“In the case where law enforcement does not know where the attacker is… we have to play a very calculated game of risk-taking," Curnutt said. "We have to set up security, and we have to deal with what we know and deal with ‘what ifs.’”

Curnutt says the key to survival is remaining “situationally aware.” It’s a skill he says should be in place well before an active shooting event even takes place with reporting any possible red flags or warning signs. 

“...and when we say report it, not in a punitive way, but the people that are exhibiting this behavior that could potentially go south, shouldn’t be seen as in trouble or bad, they need help,” he said.