Forum Photos by Michael V. Cusenza
By Michael V. Cusenza
Dozens of Howard Beach residents on Monday night learned a lot more about America’s seemingly never-ending nightmare – active shooter incidents – at an informal training seminar at St. Helen Roman Catholic Church led by members of the City Police Department’s SHIELD counterterrorism program.
The 90-minute, informative session was organized by the 106th Precinct at the request of the Howard Beach-Lindenwood Civic. The group approached Capt. Brian Bohannon, precinct commander, following the events of Oct. 1, in which retired accountant Stephen Paddock hunkered down in his 32nd floor suite at the Mandalay Bay hotel and casino in Las Vegas, and sprayed thousands of rounds on a crowd enjoying a country music concert at a nearby venue. At least 59 people died and more than 500 were wounded.
“I was asked this weekend by some parishioners, ‘If I have a license to carry [a firearm], should I carry in church on Sundays?’” the Rev. Francis Colamaria, pastor of St. Helen, said on Monday night prior to the NYPD’s presentation. “I’ll tell you right now, if you do have a license to carry, I would advise you to carry. We live in a very treacherous world.”
Colamaria’s comments elicited a round of applause from the pews inside the Rockwood Park church.
“This is not about paranoia; it’s all about situational awareness,” said NYPD Counterterrorism Det. Dino Puglia, who led the Recommendations for Active Shooter Incidents presentation, later invoking the ubiquitous theme, “If you see something, say something.”
On average, the duration of an active shooter event is approximately seven to 11 minutes. Average NYPD response time to major incidents is two to three minutes.
“Until we arrive on scene, who are the first responders? You are,” Puglia noted. “Self-preservation kicks in.”
Puglia said the NYPD advises the “ABC” approach to active shooter incidents: Avoid, Barricade, Confront. The detective also pointed out that organized events such as Monday’s seminar can yield extraordinary results down the line.
“Start planning early,” he added. “Minimize that panic, minimize casualties.”
For more information, visit nypdshield.org/public/SiteFiles/documents/Activeshooter.pdf.