What to do if there’s a real active shooter at the airport


We spoke to an expert on what you should do if you’re in a real active shooter situation. Retired HPD Lieutenant Michael Cusumano tells us the best thing to do is to act. He applauds those who reacted to Tuesday’s incident, including the TSA agents.

“We’ve trained Sheriff’s, airport police, and TSA,” said Cusumano. 

Cusumano is an expert when it comes to handling an active shooter. 

Cusumano says if you’re in an active shooter situation you need to act. That means avoid or run away from the situation. Deny meaning hide if you can’t run. If running or hiding is not an option you should be prepared to defend yourself. Doing nothing could bring more harm than good.

Cusumano cannot speak to specific protocols, but when it comes to TSA agents they should be applying the same steps because they’re not law enforcement.

“So they won’t have the tactical training that law enforcement agencies have. They are basically doing the same avoid, deny, defend that a regular civilian would be doing,” he said. 

Many passengers ran for their lives after hearing the words “active shooter,” some even ran past the security checkpoint. Cusumano tells us that was a good reaction. We asked what he liked about what TSA did?

“If they drop the lines and let the people go through that would be a good reaction,” said Cusumano. “They understand that people need a safe area to go.”

If you find yourself getting away from a shooter into a room, do whatever you can to lock and barricade the door. Something as simple as a belt could help. 

“If you bind this, it’s going to keep the actuator for opening so you want to wrap the belt around the best way you can,” he suggested. 

Try to find another exit, even if that means breaking through a window but Cusumano says he would not recommend hiding under a desk or table. 

“It doesn’t really provide a lot of cover and it’s not really a defensible area,” he said. 

If worse comes to worst, use anything and everything to defend yourself.

“Anything that’s heavy that you got a blunt instrument that you can utilize to fight,” said Cusumano. “It’s your life you got to utilize whatever you can to survive. Don’t let this guy take your life.”

Cusumano says an active shooter situation is extremely chaotic. Officials need to be absolutely certain there’s no threat before giving an all clear. Cusumano says that could take a while but it’s definitely not a call you want to make too early either. 

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