TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Two separate mass shootings in two different states have left Americans on edge this weekend and wondering how they can protect themselves.
Twenty people were killed at a shopping center in El Paso, Texas on Saturday afternoon. Just about 13 hours later, a gunman killed nine people at a bar in Dayton, Ohio.
Both tragedies happened in crowded public areas, serving as a reminder for everyone to stay vigilant. Major Robert Ura with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office stopped by News Channel 8 on Sunday to talk about what you can do to stay safe.
“It seems like an oversimplification, but if you see something, say something,” Major Ura said. “You can’t have your face buried in a phone. Look around. If you see something that doesn’t look right, look around. Call right away. Don’t hesitate and say ‘That doesn’t look right, maybe I should call later.’ It might be too late then. Call first.”
So what should you do if you find yourself in the worst-case scenario like what’s happened the past few days?
“The first thing you should do is run. Get out of there as quickly as you can. We’re coming,” Major Ura said.
A hoax call threatening the Walmart in Gibsonton forced the sheriff’s office to evacuate the store Sunday afternoon. Major Ura says deputies responded to that call in under two minutes.
“Obviously we’re pleased it turned out to be a hoax from a casualty standpoint but this is something that is unacceptable in Hillsborough County, to have somebody think that it’s okay to call a Walmart or any public space to make a threat,” Major Ura said. “We’re currently investigating that scene and that call to hopefully bring that person to justice.”
These mass shootings also come just over a week after the sheriff’s office participated in a multi-agency active shooter training at a Tampa elementary school.
“We had a really large exercise involving 16 agencies, really for a school shooting but all those same principles can last for any kind of public space shooting,” Major Ura explained. “The response, the multi-agency response. In my opinion, we’re the best-trained agency regionally in the state with our partners.”