Man stabs 4 minor girls in MA Movie theater

Have you prepared for being part of a mass casualty event?

Another day, and another mass casualty incident, this one with a twist - an individual who is linked to a previous stabbing in Connecticut allegedly drives to Braintree MA where he enters an AMC movie theater and attacks four minor girls aged 9 to 17 with a knife before fleeing and engaging in another attack. There are some important considerations and lessons we can learn from this event as we can from most such attacks.

First, the attacker was not only highly mobile but even crossed state lines between three separate attacks. While little information on the assailant is available, it would appear this was not a 'heat of the moment' attack as he had plenty of time to reconsider his actions in that long drive from Deep River CT to Braintree MA - nearly two hours apart, and then another half hour to get to Plymouth. He also attacked the group, by all accounts total strangers, without saying a word. Next, it was reported that he entered the movie theater wearing a trench coat, sunglasses and a blonde wig. The man reportedly attacked the four girls "without saying a word" then left, conducted yet another attack in Plymouth MA 30 minutes away before becoming involved in a police pursuit which ended with him wrecking and the car catching on fire.

What can we take from this event that spanned well over 100 miles? First is to be well aware of your surroundings; people, environment, obstacles, etc. Given the attackers description, it would seem to stand out. Now I may be biased given my training as an active assault response instructor however if I see a man entering a movie theater dressed in a trench coat, sunglasses and wearing a wig by himself I'm going to be hyper focused on him (see the infamous Aurora CO 'Batman Premier' movie shooting in 2012 ). I would expect anyone who lawfully carries a defensive firearm in public would recognize those characteristics as suspicious in May while it's 80+ degrees out. If you were present and witnessed such an attack, what would you do? What if he attacked your group, maybe your family? Keep in mind that AMC movie theaters are notoriously anti-gun, in fact prohibiting the carrying of firearms even by licensed gun owners. While in Massachusetts there is not an additional crime for violating that sign if you are lawfully licensed (for now ... they are trying to change that ...) it IS still prohibited. Do you follow the sign, or risk the legal ramifications? Would you engage in a crowded, low light movie theater surrounded by innocent people - and maybe more concealed gun owners or off duty police who may mistake you for the attacker? These questions need to be pondered ahead of time. Also remember the fundamental rule of a fight - you win every one you can avoid. Was this attack avoidable though? It appears he selected a target area that is known to restrict citizen owned firearms, entered without purchasing a ticket/bypassing any delay, and attacked juvenile females (least likely to be able to effectively resist/fight back). The term "Situational Awareness" is often over ( and mis) used, but it is absolutely vital.

Additionally, he used a blade - there were no gunshots to alert anyone to what was happening. We often talk about 'driving force' in police response, it's important to realize that there may not always be gunshots to alert you to something happening. Recognize other signs - screaming, panicked flight, etc. It may just be a fist fight, or it might be much worse.


The man reportedly fled right after the attack - leaving four girls with knife wounds. If you are carrying a defensive tool, are you also carrying medical supplies? A CAT-7 tourniquet is a great tool to control severe extremity bleeding, however they are bulky and limited to just that role. Even if you're properly trained in using a tourniquet (you have taken a Stop The Bleed class right?) , what if the injuries are not treatable with it? Do you have gauze, compression dressing, an EMT knife/shears to access wounds? Know how to do proper wound packing? How to stop or slow severe bleeding in junctional areas, the head or torso? While a tourniquet is an essential life saving tool, it is exceptionally singular in it's use. There are more tools that are inexpensive and easy to carry which are more useful in a wider range of injuries; a $4 pack of compressed S folded gauze takes up little room. In a mass casualty event, whether a shooting, stabbing or just a bad car wreck medical equipment immediately available on scene and the knowledge on how to use it is worth it's weight in gold.

A consideration for carrying additional medical supplies might be something similar to what I carry on duty

Ankle Medical Holster

every shift - an ankle "holster" that holds a large amount of medical supplies in a compact out of the way case that I can take off and throw to someone if I can't access them. For me, I carry an extra tourniquet, hemostatic (blood clotting) gauze, two chest seals, a compact bluntnose cutting knife, a single AAA penlight, and gauze.

This small kit is easy to carry, already packed, and unless I'm wearing shorts is a great option. Others use a similar kit that fits in a cargo pocket, or even smaller ones with just the hemostatic gauze & chest seals to be very slim and compact. Some companies even sell complete ankle or pocket carry kits, though I always would ensure all components are quality.

Given the explosion in mental health and substance abuse issues in society, I predict that we will see more and more of these kind of attacks - as well as more injuries in their wake. Mass casualty incidents are here to stay; whether the attacker uses a gun, a blade, fire, a bomb or a vehicle there will be people hurt who need care. Once the attack is over, there is still work to be done. In current active assault response training (specifically ALERTT's Active Assault Integrated Response) we teach three priorities - stop the killing, stop the dying, & rapid patient evacuation (to higher level medical care). What we do know is that they won't stop - even as I wrote this article, I learned of a fire attack in the Manhattan subway which occurred the same day as the stabbing attack where a man threw two fire bombs in what appears to be a follow up to the same style attack he conducted on February 5th.

By studying these attacks, getting trained and being properly equipped we can better prepare ourselves to keep our first circle safe.

Have you considered this type of event?

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