Instructors explain how to respond to a shooter

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COLUMBIA – A local martial arts instructor said the mass shooting in Orlando is evidence that the world is becoming a more violent place.

Corinne Bracko said, “We are not as safe as we once were. More people have anger that they’re trying to take out in various ways. Unfortunately one of the ways that’s happening today is shootings.”

Eli Peake, a fellow instructor at Hockman's ATA Martial Arts, said situations with an active threat tend to make people feel helpless, but that doesn’t have to be the case.

“Confronted with an issue, sometimes we tend to freeze up,” he said. “The most important thing is to keep breathing, and stay involved and conscious of the situation.”

Peake said, while each scenario is different, there are steps people can take to save themselves and others, but first they must realize that it could happen to them.

“We tend to assume one, it’ll never happen to us; two, assume somebody else is going to take care of it,” he said. “The third option is going to be your best option. I’m going to do something about this, take control of the situation.”

Peake said that doesn't immediately mean confronting the attacker.

“If you can find cover, take cover. If you can hide, hide. If you can run entirely and escape, find a situation and do so,” he said.

Peake said the average person isn’t going to be trained to handle a potentially violent situation, but preparing themselves mentally is very helpful if they ever are faced with dangerous circumstances.

“You must stay calm, keep breathing, and control your heart rate,” he said. "Also humanize. Try to talk to the shooter. If that can buy you some time, distract them. That can end up being what saves your life.”

Bracko said, “Tricks to staying calm in a situation like that is to be controlling your breathing. Think about your family. It’s going to be a big motivator for a lot of people to try and stay as calm as possible."

Peake and Bracko said the best responses to any situations involving an active shooter are those that save you without harming others.

They said, if left no other choice, a counterattack could diffuse the situation.

“It’s all psychological. The shooter has this false sense of power wielded in his hand. The moment that’s taken away from him, he’s not going to have that control anymore,” Peake said.