Sadly, mass killings are occurring more and more often in the U.S. Whether its gunfire, an explosion, a truck into a crowd, even an airplane into a building as we saw on 9/11, the senseless slaughters continue. The Coachella Valley has been spared this type of carnage, but it could happen here. Anytime. Anyplace.
CBS Local 2's Kris Long recently spent time with Palm Springs Police Sergeant William Hutchinson at Villagefest in downtown Palm Springs. Every Thursday night, several thousand people attend to enjoy music, food, shopping.
Sgt. Hutchinson says to his knowledge, there has never been a threat against this weekly gathering, but he knows any large scale event has the potential for disaster. He says attacks such as those that have occurred recently in New York and Las Vegas could happen here in Palm Springs.
Those with criminal intent can be very creative in finding ways to kill people.
After being reminded of the Pulse Nightclub shootings in Orlando, Florida a year and a half ago, Hutchinson says our Valley's gay community could be a target, although, once again he says he knows of no legitimate threats in the past.
Hutchinson says the first thing anyone should do if they find themselves in a crowd during an attack, is to run from the noise. Whether it is gunshots, an explosion, even a vehicle being used as a weapon. It is important to try to have an exit strategy in advance of any problems breaking out. Preparation is the key.
The sergeant also says the public can help police by providing good descriptions of assailants. When you call 911, it helps greatly if you can describe the type and color of clothing an assailant is wearing.
Hutchinson also insists, if you have no choice, you should be prepared to fight back against anyone who would hurt you or others. Remember what passengers aboard one of the 9/11 airplanes did that may have saved many lives.
He is not asking any untrained civilian to try to become a hero and put their life in danger, but if it comes to that or just becoming a victim, you may not have any choice but to fight back, hopefully with the assistance of others.
More tips to stay safe in large crowds:
- Make sure you know where the exits are.
- If you hear a loud noise that could be gunfire, an explosion, a runaway vehicle, immediately run away from the noise.
- If in a group, set a meeting place should anything happen and you have to flee.
- Don't wear loose clothing or accessories that could become tangled or pulled.
- Place your phone number in your child's pocket in case you're separated.
- Keep your phone charged and one. Program it to vibrate as well as the ring.
- As a last resort, be prepared to fight, hopefully along with others, anyone who would do you harm.