AKRON, Ohio - Akron security expert Tim Dimoff believes shoppers must stay aware of their surroundings at all times while in stores.
Dimoff is urging consumers to be keenly aware of store exits and solid places to take cover, in response to the fatal hostage situation in Willard, Ohio that claimed two lives on Oct. 30.
Dimoff is president of SACS Security and Consulting Services, and has more than 20 years of law enforcement experience.
Dimoff demonstrated to NewsChannel5 why locating an exit should be a shopper's first instinct when confronted by a gunman, especially if a consumer is within 20 feet of the store entrance.
"Right now I can just turn around and exit," explained Dimoff. "I need to get on my phone and call police, and not come back in. And I also need, when I get out of there, I need to get away from the outside exit. I need to get out, 30, 40, 50 feet in either direction."
If getting to the exit isn't possible, hiding behind solid cover should be a shopper's second option. Dimoff pointed to metal store shelves, steel freezer cases or metal doors as good choices.
"These freezer cases are thick and they're loaded," said Dimoff. "You get down on the ground behind these. That's where your protection is. You're going to avoid any kind of ammunition or being hurt."
Dimoff explained confronting the gunman is only an option if a shopper believes they have no other choice.
"If they're real close to you, and you feel you have no alternative and you need to survive, it's best to engage that person," said Dimoff. "I hate to say that, but we're coming to that point now where if you're a couple of feet away, and you feel your life is in danger, I got no choice but to try and survive."
Main Street Market owner Andy Naser showed NewsChannel5 how he has dramatically improved security at his Akron store. However, Naser believes all the security in the world won't be effective if shoppers don't stay aware of their surroundings.
"Consumers need to be aware of their surroundings," said Naser. " As long as you know about your surroundings, you should be pretty safe. But if you're on your smartphone and you're not paying attention, that's when most people are vulnerable."
Meanwhile, Dimoff pointed to statistics that show public violence is on the rise in the United States. Dimoff believes everyone is responsible for consumer safety.
Personal security is no longer a spectator sport. We've got to take responsibility for ourselves and our families to be secure, to be safe," said Dimoff. "It's just not simply a spectator sport anymore to be safe."