After two deadly mass shootings in less than a week and several more scares over the past two days, experts are offering tips on what people can do as the fear of violence lingers in the national psyche.
In El Paso, 22 people were killed in a shooting Saturday at a shopping mall, while nine more were killed in a shooting in Dayton Ohio early Sunday morning.
On Tuesday, a motorcycle backfiring in Times Square sent panicked tourists running, thinking that an active shooter was firing at the crowded attraction.
Chicago-resident Andrew Sinclair was there, and he said he was one of the hundreds who ran for his life.
“I didn’t want to be facing whatever they were coming from,” he said. “There’s this ‘fight or flight’ that kicks in. The dominoes fell and the stampede started.”
Fortunately for those involved, there were no injuries reported, and no active shooter was present.
“Within 10 minutes, Times Square was full again,” he said.
In Chicago, a Bedford Park Walmart was evacuated after reports of shots fired, and employees and customers alike were left to wonder whether a mass shooting was taking place at their store.
“Customers heard shooting and started running inside the store saying someone was shooting in the parking lot,” one employee said.
Police later said there was “no threat,” and an investigation is ongoing.
Matt Doherty, a threat expert with Hillard Heintze Security, is offering residents tips on what they can do to protect themselves in the event that the unthinkable should become a reality.
“You should not live in fear, but in awareness,” he said. “Look around, trust your instincts, and always know the exit points (in the area).”
Doherty encourages people involved in an active shooter situation to act calmly, and to carefully consider who to bring with them in the event that an escape is necessary.
“You always have to consider ‘who I can bring with me,’” he said. “Are they resisting? We find in a lot of cases coworkers freeze and it caused the death of a coworker who was on the pathway out.”