By Patrick Donachie
Jamaica community members learned how to combat an active shooter in a state of last resort during a training session held Saturday at Holy Unity Baptist Church in Jamaica organized by state Sen. James Sanders (D-South Ozone Park) for concerned community residents. Dozens of community members attended, according to Sanders’ office.
“This information that we are bringing to you is not meant to scare you, but to do the opposite – to allow us to live,” Sanders said during the four-hour event. “We live in an America that is awash with guns. There are more guns than people, and yet with all these guns, we feel less and less safe.”
The event, which included a demonstration on how to disarm a gunman during an active shooter situation if necessary. The event came in the wake of a series of public mass shootings, including an attack at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando by an ISIS sympathizer that killed 50 people, and attacks on police in Dallas and Baton Rouge that left multiple officers dead.
Eldar Ben-Yosef, a senior security consultant with International Security Associates, addressed the crowd at Holy Unity about the need to be consistently cautious and alert to your surroundings.
“It doesn’t matter what religion you are or what color you are, everyone is a potential target,” he said. “It’s everybody’s problem. In movie theaters, shopping malls, churches, synagogues, community centers – something could happen.”
Avi Avramcheyiv, the founder and chief instructor at the New York Self Defense Academy, worked with instructors and students from his school to illustrate how to take down a potential attacker armed with an AK-47 or a handgun. Avramcheyiv, who trained with the Israel Defense Force, demonstrated how to take down a shooter pointing a weapon at you from above. Using an instructor as a stand-in, Avramcheyiv mimed a defensive attack on the faux assailant, wrapping his arms around the leg of the attacker and pulling him to the ground to disable him.
Officer Christopher Mazzey of the NYPD’s Counterterrorism Division Shield Unit said that active shooter situations could potentially take place in any location, usually last between seven to 11 minutes, and the shooter is male about 97 percent of the time.
Both Mazzey urged attendees to remember that attacking an assailant is only a last resort, and that people in an active shooter situation should make every effort to escape the scene if possible.
“Hopefully, this never happens to you,” Sanders told the crowd, “but if it does, you better have a plan.”
Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdona