MANATEE, Fla. -- The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office started offering active shooter training classes to civilians in October after the Las Vegas shooting, and they were immediately popular.
Two classes a month quickly grew to between five and seven a month, with 40 to 60 people attending each one.
“We can’t put classes in fast enough to account for the demand,” said Lt. Rob Andrews, who heads the Crime Prevention Department for the sheriff's office.
Why the interest in the classes?
“I think as events happen as with Parkland, we see people are concern want to become educated of what to do," Andrews said.
He told the group most active shooters are white males between somewhere in their 20s or 30s.
Barbara Boyce is licensed to carry, and she signed up for the training.
“To be able to recognize when I should lay down and shut up or stand up and shoot,” said Boyce.
Frank Coseglia, a retired police officer went to the class, representing his church.
“To find out our responsibilities are, what problems we may have and liabilities be,” explained Coseglia.
Andrews armed the group with knowledge and told them surviving comes down to three skills.
“Get out, run away from the danger. If not, seek cover. Barricade yourself in an office, somewhere you can’t be seen. Last one, as a last resort, fight your way out. Defend yourself. Improvise weapons …chairs, fire extinguisher, that water container,” explained Andrews.
After the 90 minute class filled with tips and videos is over, Boyce says she got what she came looking for.
“It makes it a lot more real. The hardest part is to be calm think rationally … the course helped me,” said Boyce. She’s walking out “empowered.”
The next class for April 5 is nearly full. The sheriff's office is requiring all of its civilian employees to take the course next month.
Andrews says as the wait list grows more classes will be added at the sheriff's office and in the community.