There are times when bad things happen and one has to react to get out of an emergency. Fight or flight responses kick in but don’t work very well when firearms are involved in the emergency. Bullets are just too damned fast for flight to be very effective. Evasion, intelligent response to a threat and carefully applied force are much more effective. Citizens ran, not knowing what else to do and police opened a hail of firing. The officers did do a couple of things right, however. They moved apart so they could have two shooters engage one and put the threat in a cross-fire. That cuts their chances of being hit by two but may have increased the chances of collateral damage. As it was it took 16 shots to drop the perpetrator and several bullets struck civilians on the crowded street.
It is second-guessing to state from the security of my office that careful well-aimed fire was the proper response but it’s true. Police practice shooting many times and hit their targets almost every time. The right thing to do is to hit the target rather that relying on “spray and pray” to do the job. The geometry of the situation meant missed shots by police could travel down the street, increasing the chance of hitting a civilian. Thank goodness the rate of fire was not any higher. I have lived in places where police carry submachineguns. It took seconds for police to fire the shots they did. They could have fired one or two well-aimed shots in the same time with a much better outcome.
Civilians often do not know much about firearms but the fact is the shooter was pointing at the officers so the correct action for civilians was to move laterally from the line of fire rather than just running away from the shooting. Of course finding cover would be a good plan, too. Too many civilians were injured and they were all injured by bullets fired by police. I hope feedback from this incident helps tune up training in the certainty that such an incident will happen again.
“The officers unloaded 16 rounds in the shadow of the Empire State Building at a disgruntled former apparel designer, killing him after he engaged in a gunbattle with police, authorities said.
Three passersby sustained direct gunshot wounds, while the remaining six were hit by fragments, according to New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. All injuries were caused by police, he said Saturday.”