Shoppers on edge after deadly El Paso shooting

News4Jax crime and safety expert has tips on how to protect yourself

By Maggie Lorenz - Multi-media journalist

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - News4Jax spoke with shoppers in the Jacksonville area who said they're nervous after a msss shooting Saturday in El Paso.

A lot of parents and grandparents were out at stores like Walmart and Target because of the tax-free weekend. Everyone we spoke to said the increasing prevalence of mass shootings has them on edge, especially with their small kids.

"It's just a sad time. People are crazy," said Nicole Jones-Whitehead, a grandmother who is back-to-school shopping this weekend with her four grandchildren.

Jones-Whitehead hadn't heard about the mass shooting in El Paso and said she couldn't believe it.

"I'm saddened by that, that someone would use this as an opportunity to take lives away from families," Jones-Whitehead said.

She said crowds make her think twice now, and that's why she's taking measures of protection.

"I'm a permit-holding grandmother, so I carry a concealed license and a weapon. I will protect my grandkids, my family and myself," Jones-Whitehead said.

News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson said if you're in a potential active shooter situation, don't try to figure out if it's legitimate: Run.

"If you can't run, hide. Get out of sight a lot of times can help save your life. And then, if push came to shove and you find yourself face to face with the gunman, you fight with all you got to try to survive that incident," Jefferson said. "Pick up anything and everything because that gun that that person has in his hand will kill you, so you got to fight for your life."

Jefferson adds that it's hard to hit a moving target.

"Even trained police officers one-third of the time will miss a moving target, simply because it's difficult to hit unless you have the opportunity to concentrate on it and you've given a lot of time and practice to try to hit a moving target," Jefferson said. "It's just becomes very, very difficult to do."

Make a conscious effort to look for the signs that say "Exit," and use those doors in an emergency.

"A lot of times, we get in a hurry. We don't think about it. We become vulnerable, just like a lot of people become vulnerable in mass shootings such as this," Jefferson said. "Look for that: exit signs. Look for those exit doors. Look for a stairwell. Look for those things, because even though you're not there for that, you just never know. Just like these people in El Paso didn't, you never know when this sort of thing could happen."

If it does happen to you, Jefferson said to run.

"Run away from that sound. Run away from the gunman. If at all possible, get away," Jefferson said. "Don't worry about your belongings. Don't worry about grabbing anything other than maybe a child, and get out of there."

A mother who was shopping with her 10-year-old son this weekend said crowds make her think twice now.

"I know I'm more aware of what's around me," Kim Colvin said. "I keep an eye on the people that are ahead of me. I kind of have a sense of people who are around me, and yeah, absolutely, especially when I'm taking my 10-year-old son, so yeah. I'm keeping him closer. I'm teaching him to be more aware."

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