LA CROSSE, WI (WXOW)-- In the wake of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, many are wondering what can we do to prevent these mass shootings.
A retired police lieutenant says the public awareness is key and being aware of indicators that someone is troubled and may be contemplating carrying out violent acts.
Dan Marcou spent 33 years as a police officer and led the La Crosse Police Department Emergency Response Team. He now independently trains officers around the country.
Marcou, who has had contact with four active shooters, says there are recognizable signs in most, not all situations. He calls them the five phases of an active shooter
The first phase is fantasy, where a person dreams of committing a crime, maybe even draws or writes about it. Then there is a planning phase, where they begin to write who, what, when, where and why they want to carry out a shooting.
The third phase preparation where a person begins buying weapons, explosives and supplies. Next is approach, where the are moving toward a target, perhaps dress in military gear. And lastly, implementation, when they carry out a plot.
Marcou says the first two phases are where the public can really make a difference and report anything suspicious.
"In today's world, you can't ignore danger signs," Marcou said. "If the public is paying attention, is aware, that it can happen, then we can save lives. There are many documented cases where lives have been saved and these things have been prevented because someone is paying attention and called the police."
Marcou served as a negotiator during an active shooting in Oak Creek in 2004, where four were shot. He says typically there are indications but every situation is different. The public should do their best to be alert.
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