When a gunman opened fire in a University of North Carolina at Charlotte classroom, the reaction from most students in the room was to run for the door. However, one student, Riley Howell, charged and knocked into the shooter according to police.
Howell died for his heroic efforts as he was shot point blank by the gunman he rushed. But, he was the “first and foremost hero” in bringing the shooting to an end, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said.
“He took the fight to the assailant,” Putney said. “Unfortunately, he had to give his life to do so, but he saved lives doing so.”
According to police, the 21-year-old Howell knocked the gunman off his feet, and that helped lead to his capture allowing responding police to get to him before he took more innocent lives.
A police officer ran into the classroom, disarmed the suspect and arrested him shortly after Howell knocked him to the ground.
Another student, 19-year-old Reed Parlier of Midland, North Carolina, was also killed and four other students were wounded in the attack. Howell did exactly what law enforcement recommend people do in an active shooter situation according to police.
“You’re either going to run, you’re going to hide and shield, or you’re going to take the fight to the assailant. Having no place to run or hide, he did the last,” Chief Putney said.
There is no question that Riley Howell was a hero who saved countless lives by rushing the shooter and knocking him to the ground.
Now, these days many, public schools from elementary to high school keep their doors locked during the school day to prevent criminal activity. However, what if you were running from an attacker during a shooting like the incident above and you run into a locked door?
The thing is, so many businesses and schools keep interior and exterior doors locked to keep out bad apples.
But what would you do if you were running from an active shooter and only had a few minutes to get through a door before the shooter found you? For this reason, I want to share with you some ideas for dealing with locked doors.
Examine the door. When you run into a locked door you need to assess the door and what type of door you are dealing with. There are a few important questions you need to ask yourself.
Is the door metal or wooden? Does the door swing inwards or outwards? Where are the locking mechanisms located? Are the hinges visible?
Now, if the door swings towards you, it’s going to be more difficult to breach and you may want to consider moving on to another exit. However, in this case, the best point to attack is going to be the hinges.
You can start by looking to remove the hinge pins, but an exterior door may have non-removable hinge pins. In this case, you’ll have to use the fork end of a crowbar to shear the hinges off entirely.
This will take several minutes and is clearly not practical, but it’s about your only option when the door swings this way.
Kicking down the door. When kicking the door you want to use your heel, landing the kick as close to the locking mechanism as possible. If there is time, start out with a light practice kick or two to test if your foot lands where you want it.
Unless you’ve been studying with Chuck Norris, you will want to practice a kick or two. If you are making progress, you’ll see space begin to emerge between the door stile and the jamb.
In addition, you may see the door begin collapsing in on itself if it’s a hollow door. If you hit towards the middle on the door, it may begin to warp outwardly, making your strikes less effective.
The edges of the door will always be relatively well reinforced. Eventually the locking mechanisms should break through the jamb and the door will swing free.
Using tools. If the door proves extremely tough and you aren’t able to kick it down, then your only option is tools such as a crowbar, ax or sledgehammer.
You’ll use these the same way you would use your heel if you are kicking down the door, except this time the tool itself is taking the brunt of the force instead of your foot. When using the ax, you’ll want to use the blunt side to strike the doorknob with a baseball bat style swing.
This will transfer an incredible amount of force directly through the locking mechanism. A sledgehammer will work the exact same way.
When it comes to doors, a residential door is going to be much easier to kick compared to a commercial or industrial door. Also, exterior doors are typically stronger than interior doors since the hinges may not be accessible.
The bottom line is, if you are running from an attacker, you will clearly not have time to find tools to bust through a door and will have to use your foot.
But, in an extreme survival situation, you could keep tools in your car if you needed to get through a door or other locked entrance.