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Just like Richard Fierro in Colorado Springs, data shows that 64 unarmed civilians have apprehended the gunman in mass shootings since 2000

Business Insider logo Business Insider 5 days ago sbhattacharya@insider.com (Shriya Bhattacharya )
Richard Fierro subdued the gunman in Saturday's fatal shooting at Club Q. AP Photo/Jack Dempsey © AP Photo/Jack Dempsey Richard Fierro subdued the gunman in Saturday's fatal shooting at Club Q. AP Photo/Jack Dempsey
  • Army veteran Richard Fierro apprehended the gunman in the Colorado Springs shooting last week.
  • He now joins a small group of unarmed civilians who have stopped shooters before police arrived.
  • An expert said the probability of a civilian taking down an attacker is a little over 10 percent.

When news about how Army veteran Richard Fierro apprehended the gunman responsible for the mass shooting at Q, the LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, he was hailed as a hero and even received a phone call from President Joe Biden.

The army veteran had been sitting at a table inside the club with his wife and daughter the night of Saturday, November 19 when a gunman entered and opened fire, killing five people and injuring eighteen. After hearing bullets, Fierro ran directly towards the shooter, who has now been identified as 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, pulled him down, and beat him with his own gun before police arrived on the scene. 

"I don't know exactly what I did, I just went into combat mode," he told the New York Times in an interview. "I just know I have to kill this guy before he kills us."

What Fierro did that night has placed him in a group of unarmed civilians who have successfully apprehended gunmen in mass shootings. According to data the New York Times published in June, there have been 433 situations in which a bystander confronted an active shooter in the country from 2000 to 2021. Out of those attacks, 249 ended before police arrived on the scene, and the bystander successfully subdued the shooter in 64 cases. As a result, Fierro, like the more than 50 civilians who came before him, was able to halt the gunman and save lives without a weapon.

The data was pulled together by the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Center at Texas State University, who worked alongside the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). According to ALERRT's director of research Hunter Martaindale, the probability of a civilian taking down an attacker is a little over 10%. In fact, the Department of Homeland Security recommends that civilians attempt to take down a gunman if they're close by, like Fierro did. However, if a civilian is armed, then the situation is much more complicated.

"There are plenty of incidents where people are armed but pulling out that weapon and shooting at that moment might cause more harm," he told Slate in an interview.

So far this year, the US has recorded 609 multiple-victim shootings — nearly double the number from five years ago.

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