What Would You Do? Mall Shooting Survivor and School Shooting App

ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR)– The survivor of a mall shooting spree describes coming face to face with an armed attacker. The victim was even carrying his own firearm that day. He drew it before being shot five times.

Dan McKown was inside a mall in Tacoma, Washington in November 2005. He heard shots from an automatic weapon down by Santa`s Workshop. He`s not a cop, but he had his own gun that day. I talked to him through Facebook video conferencing about what happened next.

McKown said, “I honestly thought because he was firing two guns that there was multiple shooters, because he`s firing an AK in one arm and a Chinese knock off, 9 mm in the other.”

McKown saw Dominick Maldonado carrying a semi-automatic like a briefcase. He didn`t know the shooter had rigged his gun so he could fire it from his hip. McKown hid his gun under his coat, because he feared police might mistake him for the shooter. He yelled to Maldonado.

McKown remembers saying, “Young man, I think you need to put your weapon down. He spun around, I drew and his first shot hit me before my trigger came all the way back. The first shot hit me in the abdomen, kicked my gun arm in the air, contorted my legs in these weird unduplicated positions and then locked them and then I just started tipping in and prayed the most unchristian like prayer of my life which was please God let me shoot this guy before he kills anybody else.”

Maldonado wounded six other people. McKown was the seventh. The shooter may have only faced assault charges if it wasn`t for the confrontation with McKown, who explained, “The only reason he got an attempted murder charge (was because of the confrontation with) me. Everything else was assault. It`s only attempted murder because I `spoke` to him. So I ceased to become a random target and became a human being only because I `spoke` and I thought that was kind of messed up because every human being is a person and should be respected with the same legal rights.”

Maldonado claimed he wasn`t trying to hurt anyone despite calling 911 before his attack and telling a dispatcher to follow the screams. A judge sentenced him to 163 years.

McKown`s confrontation with Maldonado changed the shooter`s tactics. Maldonado then stopped shooting and ducked into a store to take hostages until police forced him to surrender.

McKown said his only regret may be that he didn`t jump in sooner. McKown said police arrested Maldonado with 600 rounds of ammunition, ready to be fired.

Brian Vickers with Victory Tactical joined in a conversation that you can see by clicking on the video for this story. Vickers provides high threat protection for U.S. Government officials.

We also discussed school shootings. Police say most of them are over before they arrive. A former Illinois State Trooper wants to change that with a smart phone app.

Colonel Mike Snyders said, “The bottom line is, at any given moment, most police officers are on an off-duty capacity and many of the officers that are on duty may be doing detective work.”

Snyders is talking about officers who could help stop a shooter, but might not have a way to know about an emergency. He helped design a smart phone app, called School Guard, that could get more police officers to a school shooting quicker.

Snyders said, “A minute can equate to 6 or 7 children`s lives, so for every 60 seconds that we reduce the response times we can save 6 or 7 lives or more.”

School guard taps into a larger network of police officers, some who might be nearby but off duty or someone on duty without a police radio (like a Federal Agent). Officers across the Country are signing up so they`ll know if they`re near a school shooter.
Snyders explained, “It hits the smart phones of every police officer within the radius a certain geo-fence area of that report.”

A school would have to sign up for School Guard. Teachers would put the app on their smart phones, allowing them to hit an emergency activation button. That would call 911, alert surrounding officers and give every other teacher a GPS location of the shooter. Then if a teacher on one end of the school sees the incident is on the other end, they can move their kids away.

Snyders said, “Urgency is the key here. Seconds save lives.”

Snyders addressed possible complications from having non-uniformed officers showing up. He explained, “There are critical incidents that happen around the Country and they are mass chaos in the early stages of the event. There are protocols that the uniformed officers use and the non-uniformed officers use. But in some of these situations where you`re talking about bullets flying on school property – all hands on deck. It`s critical that the police get on scene, respond together and use their training.”

Schools would be fined for a false alarm. A teacher must double punch the emergency alert and it only works near the school property. School Guard also automatically calls 911.

Brian Vickers with Victory Tactical joined in a conversation that you can see by clicking on the video for this story. Vickers provides high threat protection for U.S. Government officials.

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