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It's a different world out there

By Joe Centers • Jul 17, 2018 at 12:00 PM

You hear it all of the time: “I didn’t think it would happen here.”

From Columbine High School in 1999 to Las Vegas in 2017 and Parkland, Fla. earlier this year, mass shootings come out of nowhere.

On June 28, five people were killed when a man attacked a small newspaper in Parole, Va., a suburb of Annapolis, Md. The man killed five Capital Gazette employees and gravely wounded several in the attack on the newsroom.

Norwalk Police Chief Mike Conney spoke Friday to employees of the Norwalk Reflector about what we can do to protect ourselves if something like that would ever happen here.

The message was simple: The odds of it happening here are slim, but we always must be on guard.

And if it did happen, what would we do?

The simple response is this — run, hide or fight.

The order is determined by the attack, Conney said. If you can run, than do it. If you can find a safe place to hide, then do that. If you have to fight, it’s either that or probable death.

But sometimes you do not have time to run and the only option is to fight.

Conney and Detective Sgt. Dave Daniels went through a number of scenarios that were both informative and concerning.

The attacker at the Capital Gazette had a long-standing beef against the paper and some of its employees for stories it had written about him. Hardly a week goes by that we don’t have somebody calling us about a story we wrote about them, That is the nature of our business.

Over the years I have heard my share of complaints.

I remember one time when we got the TV cable cut outside of our house on East Elm Street. It didn’t happen once, but three times. After the third time I finally called the police.

The officer came to my house and asked me if there was a reason somebody might be mad at me.

I just laughed.

I told him I worked for the Reflector as a sportswriter and everybody complains they don’t get enough coverage. I told him I umpired adult softball and there was more than one time when somebody wanted to follow me out of Baines Park.

But I saved the best for last. I told him I called Bingo and there is nothing worse then a bunch of old women after they lost all of their money because they were set on the winning number and I did not call it.

I remember years ago when Fanny Farmer was on strike. One morning about nine women came storming into the newsroom looking for the guy who wrote a story they didn’t like. They came right at me and I just pointed to the guy sitting in the next chair. They surrounded him and I thought he was going to start crying.

A couple of years ago we had a guy walk in to complain about a story and within about 30 seconds we called 9-1-1 on him. The cops were here in about 10 seconds and had had him arrested a short time later.

We have been lucky. A shooting probably won’t happen here, like it probably won’t happen at a local school, hospital or any other workplace.

But in this day and age we have to be aware of our surroundings. We all do.

Jody and I were in Las Vegas last week celebrating our 36th anniversary and stayed in the Excalibur Hotel and Casino. Right from our room I could look outside and see the parking lot where 58 people were gunned down by a madman while they were at a concert.

It probably won’t happen here, but there no guarantees. 

Like it or not, this is the world we live in now.

Joe Centers is Reflector managing editor. He can be reached at [email protected]

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