Active shooter training helped ‘save lives’ during the Whole Foods shooting

Local

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – More than a dozen people, including shoppers and employees, were inside the Whole Foods at 13th and Webb in Wichita Monday when police shot an armed woman.

Jenna Steier feared her son, Sean, an employee at the store, was one of them when she could not get a hold of him.

Finally, after four hours of calling and texting, she received a text saying that he was okay.

“It just really scared me. I mean, you don’t hear a whole lot of that on the east side, so when you think he is at work and safe, it scared me to death,” she said.

However, she didn’t know her son was working at his other job.

“He didn’t even know what had happened because he was working there, and his phone had gone dead, so he didn’t even know,” said Steier.

Sean said it wasn’t until 12:30 a.m. that he charged his phone and saw many calls and texts from friends and family.

“I was texting some of my friends to see if they were there. I saw the night shift as they were coming in so I only assume that they were the same people that I saw,” he said.

Sean said Whole Foods had active shooter training just a month ago for their employees.

“Now, we know that it is going to work perfectly, and no one is going to get hurt in our case at least,” he added.

Right before the incident involving the woman, all shoppers and employees inside the store were moved to safety.

Training the Wichita Police Department said was crucial.

“I would say that I think the employees and management of the store did an outstanding job, looking out for not only their own employees but their customers, think that not only their actions, but the actions of the responding police officers, all of that in concert, did, in my opinion, save lives,” said Capt. Jason Stephens, Wichita Police Department.

Sean said he believes when he returns to work on Wednesday managers will go over what happened and provide resources for those who were impacted.

Whole Foods Market was closed Tuesday and released the following statement:

This was a deeply troubling event and we are grateful for the safety of our Team Members and customers. We are cooperating with the investigation and are focused on supporting our Team Members in the days ahead.”

RACHEL MALISH
WHOLE FOODS MARKET, GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS

Officers train for active shooting situations

Wichita police are trained in active shooter situations in the academy.

“The stress level isn’t the same. When the actual call comes out and it’s time to go to those, there is a different level of stress a different level of focus,” said Lt. Jason Cooley.

The main goal is deescalating the situation. They will try and communicate with the person without harming others or themselves.

Unfortunately, officers don’t get that opportunity to go through that process. The Wichita Police Department has a policy in place which includes officers reporting to a supervisor when it comes to a person threatening others. But in a scenario like an active shooting, a supervisor can’t always get involved.

“If the supervisor is close, they’re obviously going to go and respond just like an officer would, if the supervisor is not close, managing over the radio is difficult after officers are on scene,” said Lt. Cooley.

It is up often up to the officers who are on the scene to make that decision when it comes to using force.

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