Tag: Hide

Terror at the Mall


How safe is your local mall?

Mall security

Where are the exits?

Today’s news is filled with threats of terrorist attacks on local, American, British and Canadian malls. These threats follow on the heels of the release of HBO’s amazing documentary, “Terror at the Mall,” showing one such attack.

If you are involved in security and counter-terrorism, you need to have seen this chilling story. If you are simply a parent, or even a shopper, you may want to take time to see it, too.

Security camera footage

Footage for the film was taken from the over 100 security cameras that continued to run while noontime shoppers visited the upscale WestGate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya on September 21, 2013. Again and again, the footage shows innocent and unsuspecting families and store personnel suddenly confronted by militants armed with automatic weapons.

These men entered the mall like any other shopper, moving steadily through the corridors and into stores and shooting down anyone who moved.

Over the course of four hours, over 60 people were killed, women, children and police. The floors ran with blood.

You may well ask, “Four hours?”

It was a classic example of a “soft target” attack combined with poor response by police and military. While the terrorists continued to move throughout the mall,, police and military forces, who took over 45 minutes to arrive,  milled around outside. One of their leaders is seen shouting, “Give us time to get organized!”

The gunmen were purportedly from Al-Qaida-linked al-Shabaab in Somalia. They were quoted as wanting “revenge” for the death of some of their brethren. Ultimately, after 4 days, a potion of the mall and the terrorists were destroyed by fire, purportedly the result of the army’s artillery “remote assault.”

Mandatory training

Viewing this chilling film should be mandatory training for anyone involved in security and counter-terrorism activities. It also reinforces the lessons taught in the “Run-Hide-Fight” active shooter video that was created by the City of Houston, Texas and the Department of Homeland Security. This film was reviewed by us last year. It has now had over three million views on YouTube.

As a matter of policy, at The Emergency Plan Guide we normally avoid publishing anything that smacks of “alarmist” publicity. Unfortunately, given the open threat from al-Shabaab, recent events in Paris and Copenhagen and warnings coming today out of Homeland Security, we can probably expect soft target attacks in the not-too-distant future. And, if ISIS gets its way, even the possibility of large-scale events cannot be overlooked.

“If you see something, say something.”

The Department of Homeland Security began a new campaign at the Superbowl, promoting awareness. It applies here, too.

If you feel that your lifestyle is such that you have higher than normal exposure, you would do well to view the Houston film (it’s only about 10 minutes) and even the HBO Documentary (60 minutes). It’s important to see how many people were able to get away and how others successfully hid from the attackers.

Finally, it makes good sense to always be aware of exit routes for any public structure. And, if you see something, say something!

Joseph Krueger
Your Emergency Plan Guide team

P.S. The Documentary is available to subscribers online at HBO. There are also a number of interviews, clips and trailers available on YouTube, but some have been apparently been “hijacked” by groups trying to take advantage of the title of the documentary. Caution is advised.


Random Acts of Violence — Really Random?

violence on campus

Emergency Evacuation

It may seem a bit off target here to deal with a crime that is outside of the strict definition of “terrorism.” To victims of mass shootings by deranged individuals however, it is as much an act of terrorism as any cause-motivated shooting.  This is true whether the act is perpetrated against co-workers or randomly-selected victims as in the case of the Virginia Tech shootings or the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.

Less workplace violence than expected?

Perhaps surprising is the fact that workplace violence has not appreciably escalated in the past four years, despite the economic downturn and record unemployment.

But more violence in schools

What is noteworthy is the occasional outbreak of violence in public places and around schools — college campuses and more recently, on an elementary school campus.

While it’s true that few people in the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado had any opportunity to foresee the events that would unfold that fateful night in the summer of 2012, many people did know or “sense” that something was wrong with James Holmes. And there were warnings about Seung-Hui Cho at Virginia Tech.

Plenty of warnings

Still, most people likely were deterred from doing or saying anything by fear of civil lawsuits or being branded alarmists.

How to defend against this kind of violence?

It starts with co-workers and supervisors in the workplace. In the case of university communities, it starts with fellow students, teachers and administrators in close coordination with appropriate authorities. This is, of course no easy path to even a partial solution.

Education and an atmosphere of open communication without fear of reprisal are admittedly easier talked about than accomplished. They are elusive goals complicated by the fact that every environment is unique and has its own culture and circumstances.

The best advice is to stay tuned in to your surroundings and resist the temptation to ignore the danger signals.  If you can’t defend against this violence, know how to respond.

Run, Hide, Fight

The City of Houston, with the assistance of a Homeland Security Grant, created a 4-minute training video on how to survive an active shooter event.    You can view “Run, Hide, Fight” here:


CAUTION:  This video, although simulated, contains some intense scenes.  Prepare any audience, even your CERT or neighborhood team, before using it as training.