Hernando deputies train civilians on active shooters

- This classroom is filled with people with everyday jobs, like Linda Wilfong, who works at a school. 

Just the day before, she watched in horror how an active shooter destroyed the lives of 17 families in Parkland. 

"Everybody takes it lightly, it's never going to happen to us. Yes it can," said Wilfong. "I tried to bring everybody at my school that I could that my principal would let go." 

She's talking about a class that the Hernando County Sheriff's Office offers for people who want to better prepare themselves in the event of a disaster situation. 

"It gets them thinking about scenarios prior to them occurring," said Deputy Sheriff Matt Spooner. "It puts the information in their minds so they have something to draw from if they're faced with a disaster situation." 

Using the 1999 Columbine High School shooting as an example, Deputy Sheriffs Matt Spooner and Jaso Deso teach the "Avoid, Deny, Defend" method. 

"It's not a tactics course, we're not teaching people how to tactically do things," said Spooner. "We're teaching them how to think critically in their daily lives to prepare themselves for a disaster situation such as an active shooter." 

To avoid is to know your surroundings and have an exit plan. You deny shooters by building barricades and remaining quiet.

"If you can't avoid it, you need to deny it," said Deputy Sheriff Jason Deso. "If you can't deny it and avoid it, you have to come to your personal decision of defending yourself instead of being a victim." 

Phillip Johnson is a pastor. As we've seen in Texas last year, and Charleston three years ago, churches are not immune from violent events.

"We're living in an increasingly violent world and I feel like we have an obligation to our congregation to prepare ourselves for whether it's an active shooter situation or any other emergency-type deal," said Johnson. 

Because there has been such a high demand to take classes, the Hernando County Sheriff's Office just recently started offering the classes twice every month. They're offered both day and night.

Up Next:


Up Next

  • Hernando deputies train civilians on active shooters
  • Sentencing appeal rejected for man convicted in death of Tampa teen
  • Venice man arrested in hit-and-run death of 19-year-old
  • Publix suspends political donations amid anti-NRA protest
  • Polk County jail nurse gave cell phone, 'love letters' to inmate, deputies say
  • Toddler hurt in Bayshore Blvd. crash dies from her injuries
  • Man in wheelchair injures Winter Haven officers with sword, police say
  • St. Pete police search for three home invasion suspects
  • Pasco County K9 tracks, continuously barks at suspect found in woods
  • Deputies: Test drive turns into carjacking in St. Pete