Preparing for a Mumbai-style Active Shooter

image: CSM

Kevin Hayden, Contributing Writer

Over the last few weeks, the mainstream media has capitalized on recent intelligence reports warning of a “Mumbai-style attack” in Europe.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the details of the Mumbai incident, several gunmen took over seemingly-random buildings, such as a large hotel, cafes, a movie theater and a children’s hospital.  Over the course of 3 days, they were able to kill 173 people, injure another 308 civilians and fend off police approaches with grenades and overwhelming firepower.  After the attacks had finally been stopped, investigators learned that many of the gunmen had been injecting themselves with cocaine and steroids to remain alert and awake, some staying up for over 50 hours at a time.
Imagine a Columbine school event but with trained gunmen in a dense commerce area such as a mall, downtown business district or even a university.  It could easily happen here in America.
Now, on the other hand, there is a very distinct possibility that the media frenzy of these supposed “Mumbai-style attacks” could simply be disinformation to maintain government control and fear of terrorism, especially in Europe where riots and protests are being held against government austerity measures, cutbacks and pension problems.  Either way, this type of event could be perpetrated by high schoolers, a lone-wolf gunman or any other number of people who have reached their breaking point.  A variety of reasons could be listed: anger at the government, actual terrorism, teenage anger, religious fervor, PTSD, paranoia, environmentalists or a host of other issues.  My point is not to promote fear, but vigilance and situational awareness.  This can happen anywhere and at anytime.

Ever since the infamous Columbine school shooting in Colorado, law enforcement has been altering their training and approaches to active shooters.  They are starting to come full-circle, if you will, utilizing the first patrolman on the scene or two-man teams to immediately enter the building and begin hunting for the active shooter and allowing follow-up officers to tend to fallen victims.

Long ago, police officers would arrive to the scene of a bank robbery in progress and several beat cops would rush the doors and take the gunman down.  Over the years, SWAT teams became popular and responding officers lost their edge and were trained to simply wait for the SWAT team to arrive and handle dangerous situations.  While this turned out as an advantage in most situations, officers were no longer trained in how to handle these events by themselves or with other patrol officers.  A dumbing-down effect, if you will.
Columbine and many other school shootings stand as a perfect example of this “inaction” and time delay.  The initial responding officer exchanged gun shots with one of the shooters, but then retreated to his patrol car to wait for backup.  Additional responding officers surrounded the school and began detaining students who were able to exit while the shooters remained inside, detonating explosives, setting fires and injuring or killing another 20 to 25 students while the police continued to amass outside and wait for the SWAT teams.
Inaction led to unneccesary death and injury.  Learning from mistakes is the best way to avoid them in the future and inaction – or a failure to act immediately – is one of the biggest lessons to remember when involved in an active shooter situation, such as Columbine, Virginia Tech or in Mumbai.
Immediate action – no matter what it is – will greatly enhance your chance of survival.
In November of 2008, when the Mumbai Attacks occurred, it was just another average day.  People were commuting to work, concierge clerks were picking up luggage and coffee was being served at cafes.  And then a mere group of ten individuals began to wreak havoc.
Armed with grenades and AK-47s, these men were able to kill and wound hundreds, paralyze the city and region, tie up all of the law enforcement and first responders and continue to do so for days. 
Imagine waking up next Tuesday and turning on the news, only to find out that groups of five-man teams were wreaking havoc in multiple cities across the country.  It would paralyze America and aid in the ever-aggressive, ironfist security policies promoted by the Department of Homeland Security and the White House.  It would quickly turn into the classical situation of trading liberties for security.  How many Americans would allow another Patriot Act to pass?  How many Americans would be okay with AK-47s and other rifles being banned due to an event of this magnitude?
Whether the intelligence community has been playing up the European Mumbai-styled attacks due to credible information or they are trying to promote fear and maintain their control over a rioting, failing European nation is a moot point.  We all need to be aware and be prepared.  I said several years ago and many times on that a Mumbai-style attack would most likely be the next “terrorist event” on American soil.  It requires very little planning, training and money and would create instant fear.
Only time will tell.
Here are some basic steps you can take to aide in everyday safety:
  • Remain aware of your surroundings, especially in parking lots or dark areas.
  • Learn to use a firearm or obtain your concealed carry license.
  • Carry a bag of preparedness items in your vehicle, such as a flashlight, extra food & water, extra ammunition, etc.
  • Always lock your doors and windows; don’t invite thieves of opportunity to make you a victim.
  • When faced with danger, take immediate action.  Period.
  • Whether you run away, fight, lock a door, return fire or drive off in your vehicle, take action!

Many businesses and organizations are starting to recognize the very real threat of an active shooter and have taken measures to counter an event.  The recent active shooter incident at the Discovery Channel headquarters is a prime example of a coordinated, planned business response to active shooters.  Had they not had a plan in place and employees trained in how to react, many more lives could have easily been lost.

See also:

Recently by Kevin Hayden:
Kevin Hayden is a former New Orleans police officer-turned-political activist.  He endured Hurricane Katrina’s chaos and societal collapse in the days following and after 5 years in New Orleans, he moved to Oklahoma.  Kevin currently runs and works on local politics and education about our monetary, food and foreign policies while building an off-grid homestead and helping people become prepared.  He can be contacted directly at

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