Local security experts offer tips to prepare for mass shooting scenarios

ST. LOUIS – From a Las Vegas outdoor concert to a church service in a small Texas town, recent events have many people concerned about safety in public spaces. That harsh reality should not deter people from living their lives, but it highlights the importance of situational awareness and safety.

“Being prepared saves lives,” said Steve Lewis, a co-founder of Tier One Tactical Solutions, LLC, a St. Louis-based company that trains workplaces, places of worship, and schools on how to handle active killer scenarios.

The company teaches clients to stay alert, spot danger, and give themselves a fighting chance.

With 30 years of experience in law enforcement, Lewis said he pays close attention to safety at any site. He said visitors to any venue, be it a church or at a rowdy concert, should ask themselves a series of important questions.

“You’re walking into this venue and you’re thinking, ‘What would I do if?’ And that’s what we tell people to do. Ask yourself, ‘What would I do if?’”

The public, he said, should remember the Four Es: educate, escape, evade, or engage.

“We have a corner, right?” he said, pointing to a bench at the Chesterfield Amphitheater. “So, if we have someone that’s actually firing rounds at us, and they’re putting lead down range, so to speak, we some cover here - have a concrete barrier.”

The barrier is an effective tool to evade, he explained.

What about the other “E”s?

“If I notice that the bad guy is moving somewhere else and I can escape, maybe I’ll take that advantage. I’m going out the exit,” Lewis said. “If the bad guy is going up the stairs and he’s coming closer and closer to me, he’s taking away my ability to escape. And he’s also taking away my ability to hide from him, right – to evade him. I’m picking up this trashcan and throwing it at him - engage. Picking up this lid and hitting him with it.”

Reviewing that process of possible responses when entering any location will arm oneself, Lewis said. Not armed with a weapon, but rather important knowledge that can save lives.

“We don’t want the bad guys to win. We don’t want to have to change who we are or our lifestyles. What we do have to change is the way we think about these things,” he said.