Authorities in suburban Oak Brook say that a Thursday shooting at Oakbrook Center could have been worse if security at the mall had not intervened quickly, and experts are offering the public a glimpse at the procedures that are in place to respond to threats and keep shoppers safe.
The shooting left a total of four people with gunshot wounds and a fifth person with a fractured ankle that they suffered while fleeing the scene.
Police say that the shooting was initially reported by an officer that was outside of the mall at the time of the gunfire, and when that officer responded to the scene, the shooters fled into the mall to try to escape.
Two of the shooters were taken into custody, and while police are searching for a third suspect, additional officers at the mall have been deployed to keep shoppers safe on the final day of the Christmas shopping season.
In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, more than 100 officers were deployed to the scene, and experts say that there is a specific strategy in place when responding to an act of violence in a large venue.
“Treating those who were injured (is important,), but in an active shooter situation, (the main goal) is to end the threat as soon as possible,” Robert Klich, who heads up special operations for Monterey Security and is a former police officer, said. “In a textbook response to active shooter situations, the officers are going toward the sounds. If they hear gunfire, they go towards the sound.”
In Thursday’s shooting, SWAT teams methodically went through store by store in their search both for the suspect, and in their efforts to clear the mall of civilians.
Klich says that in the event of a shooting, there are things that residents can do to keep themselves safe as police search buildings.
“The best thing you can do in a situation like that is to find shelter, if you are in a closed room or something else,” he said. “In addition to just closing or locking the door, barricade the door.”
Klich also suggested calling 911, and even if a person doesn’t feel safe talking, they should leave the phone on so that dispatchers can hear background sounds.
Ultimately, experts say that the most important things individuals can do when confronted by an active shooter situation is to stay safe, and to help authorities find them.