Always remember your ABCs: NYPD

Cop gives advice to Howard Beach residents in active shooter seminar

Dino Puglia, a member of the NYPD’s Counterterrorism Division, told about 75 Howard Beach residents Monday that they must remember their ABCs if they ever find themselves in an active shooter situation: avoid, barricade or confront.

“It gives you a little plan and an idea on what to do,” Puglia said at St. Helen RC Church.

But he also warned his presentation won’t make everyone 100 percent ready should they find themselves in the vicinity of a mass shooter.

“Unfortunately, I don’t have all the answers,” he added. “If I had the answers, I would be handing them out all the time.”

Puglia’s appearance was cohosted by the Howard Beach-Lindenwood Civic Association, the 106th Precinct and the Rev. Francis Colamaria, pastor of St. Helen, to educate people following the mass shooting in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, in which Stephen Paddock opened fire on a crowd of concert-goers, killing 58 and injuring 546.

Puglia uttered a phrase well-known to New Yorkers many times throughout his presentation — if you see something, say something.

“This is about situational awareness,” he said.

The perpetrators of mass shootings, Puglia said, often plan their attacks before carrying them out. James Holmes, the man who killed 12 people in an Aurora, Colo. movie theater in 2012, examined the surveillance equipment in the venue and the emergency exits in the room.

They are also calm when committing the act. Seung-Hui-Cho, the perpetrator of the 2007 Virgina Tech shooting that killed 12, was described by Derek O’Dell, one of the survivors, as having a blank expression on his face.

“They’re not running around,” Puglia said.

Ninety-seven percent of mass shooters are men, but the cop said authorities are seeing an increase in the number of women shooters.

Running down the ABCs, Puglia noted that there are a couple of things to keep in mind when deciding which strategy to implement.

When avoiding, people should keep their hands in plain sight so first responders arriving at the scene can clearly see who has a gun in their hand and who does not. He added that people should not pull a fire alarm, as that could cause more people to run into the hallway of a building and put more bodies in the path of an attacker.

On barricade, those in the room should try to jam a door with as many items as possible, or put something in between them and the shooter. A ballistics video shown at the presentation demonstrated that a filing cabinet — the one in the video was empty — is the most effective piece of office eqipment in stopping or slowing down most rounds of ammunition.

Puglia said confronting the shooter may sometimes be a person’s best chance at survival. He recommended grabbing anything in reach — high heels, staplers, hot cups of coffee or a woman’s purse — and throwing it at the perpetrator.