TBI to offer free active shooter training event

HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) has scheduled a free active shooter training on July 18.

That training will aim to educate the public on evolving threats and best practices for self-defense. Lessons learned from the Covenant School shooting will also be discussed.

The event is scheduled to take place from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. at Longhollow Church in Hendersonville. Anyone that wishes to attend has been asked to sign up in advance.

The TBI has teamed up with the security company Defend Systems, which trained Covenant staff prior to the school shooting there in 2023. Instructors told News 2 that they plan to discuss takeaways from the tragedy.

“We trained them one year to the day before that incident happening,” Defend Systems’ Vice President of Operations Tracey Mendenhall said. “The teachers were total rock stars. They saved the lives of those kids and they knew what to do.” 

Mendenhall said that everyone should be prepared for the possibility of an active shooter no matter where they are, noting attacks on movie theaters, grocery stores and even religious centers. 

Despite the many measures available to help secure buildings, Mendenhall said that most active shooters are familiar with their places of attack and can navigate past security features. In the case of the Covenant shooting, Audrey Hale was a former student. 

“Statistics show us that 80 percent of your shooters are current (or) former students, faculty or staff,” Mendenhall said.

According to data from the FBI, there were 61 active shooter situations in 2021 and another 50 in 2022. Last year, the FBI designated 48 incidents as active shooter situations.

“I think we struggle as a society right now with a whole lot of mental health, you know. We don’t really know what to do with that,” Mendenhall said. “We’re still struggling on how do we address these issues and what do we do.” 

Despite the number of active shootings across the country, TBI Director David Rausch said that he believes many could have been prevented. During the scheduled training, attendees will learn the importance of identifying pre-attack indicators. 

“In the vast majority of these incidents, someone knew something that they should have told,” Rausch said.  

Even if someone has a gut feeling about an individual seeming suspicious, Rausch urged them to report it to authorities.  

“There’s a lot of fear that if I share that, it’s going to get them in trouble. The reality is they’re not going to get in trouble, they’re going to get help. That’s the reality.” 

On top of learning how to spot a potential threat, instructors will also go over some emergency medical first aid and what to do for your best chances of survival. 

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Mendenhall urged anyone who could attend to do so, adding that active shootings can happen almost anywhere. Currently, there is enough room for 1,000 participants. However, Mendenhall added that the TBI is willing to accommodate for more if necessary. 

“For me to take two hours of my time to prepare myself, so if I am — God forbid — with my kids at church or at the grocery store and something like this happens…that is priceless to me,” she said. “If we can stop more, if we can prepare people to respond in these events instead of just reacting and not knowing what they’re doing, then we’re doing something right.”

News 2 asked Director Rausch how swatting has played a role in law enforcement’s response to active shooting calls. He said that behind the scenes, investigators coordinate before responding to a scene in full force.

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