LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Americans woke up to news of horror Monday after a man opened fire from 32 stories above a Las Vegas music festival. At least 58 dead and more than 500 injured. Even though authorities have learned the suspect's identity, the motive of the gunman still remains a mystery.
However, in Deep East Texas, two law enforcement officers offered their input on how to stay alert in big crowds, One of them Lufkin Assistant Police Chief David Thomas who has been training groups in the community on active shooter situations for a decade.
"When you go to a large venue, look for the nearest exit," Thomas said. "You should look for an alternate exit. Just because the entrance you came in is marked as an exit, look around, look for fire exit. Look for places that aren't barricaded that will allow you get out of a large venue."
While the Las Vegas situation, and others similar to it are unavoidable, experts said remaining vigilant and having a plan can prepare you.
"The acronym we use is avoid, deny, and defend," Thomas said.
Many response programs have been created, and one in particular taught by Thomas is through training center ALERRT. The strategy is to first avoid the situation by finding an exit. If that fails, then deny access from the gunman coming near by creating a barricade, and finally should a victim come face to face with the gunman, then defend right to live.
Captain Alton Lenderman with the Angelina County Sheriff's Office said he agrees with that strategy.
"Something as simple as a book could sometimes protect you. Just taking a book and putting it down the front of your shirt and down the back of your shirt," Lenderman said.
Lenderman said people in an active-shooter situation need to mind their surroundings and avoid being a target, while ultimately moving forward and enduring the experience without giving power to the shooter.
"As a society, we can't shut down because of that. We can't stop functioning. For some people, what they like to do is shut everything down. With some people it's is to get attention or whatever it is, but as a society all we can do is be aware of our surroundings," Lenderman said.