Again in the age of 'run, hide, fight,' student heroes thwart a school shooter

Two people were taken into custody after police say they opened fire at a STEM school in a suburban Denver community. CNN's Ryan Young reports.

Posted: May 8, 2019 10:00 AM
Updated: May 8, 2019 10:00 AM

When the shooter opened fire at STEM School Highlands Ranch in suburban Denver, an 18-year-old charged him, getting shot himself in the process but giving his classmates time to take cover or bolt.

Nui Giasolli had British literature class with one of the shooters who killed a student and wounded eight others at the school Monday, and she shared with the "Today" show a story of terror and heroism that unfolded once bullets began to fly.

When children bear witness to tragedy

The shooter came into the classroom late, she said. He walked over to a second classroom door and opened it. He walked back toward his desk, then returned to the door and closed it, Nui recalled.

She'd known him for four years, she told "Today." He was always nice to her. She never thought he was capable of what followed, she said.

"The next thing I know he's pulling a gun and he's telling nobody to move," she said.

Her 18-year-old classmate, whom CNN is not naming because he has not been publicly identified, lunged at the shooter and was shot, "giving all of us enough time to get underneath our desks, to get ourselves safe and to run across the room to escape," she said.

Three other students also rushed the shooter, Nui said, describing them as "brave enough to bring him down so that all of us could escape and all of us could be reunited with our families."

Standing alongside her grateful mother, Nyki, the young woman told the morning show, "They were very heroic. I can't thank them enough."

One of the three students she mentioned is senior Brendan Bialy. His father told The New York Times that Brendan was in the classroom when two students walked in and one of them pulled a gun out of a guitar case.

Brendan and two friends tried to tackle the shooter, but one of the boys was shot in the chest, Brad Bialy told the paper. Other students tried to stop the bleeding by applying pressure to his chest, the father told the Times.

The youngsters did exactly what they were supposed to do, according to experts. Where people were once advised to flee or shelter in place, the new mantra for surviving an active shooter situation is "run, hide, fight."

The guidance, sometimes referred to as Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events, began to emerge in 2002 upon the realization that the law enforcement response at Columbine High School, which happened 20 years ago about 7 miles away from Tuesday's shooting, was ineffective.

The shooters at Columbine -- just like Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, Sandy Hook and far too many others -- weren't common criminals, experts realized. They weren't after wallets or purses. They wanted body counts, blood and headlines.

CRASE trainers devised a strategy called "avoid, deny, defend," but the premise is the same as "run, hide, fight." If you can't protect yourself, take out the gunman.

"Avoid" means not only to run but to be vigilant. Know where the exits are and visualize how to get out of a room before something goes away. "Deny" includes hiding, but it also means taking other precautions, such as barricading doors, turning off lights and silencing phones. If hiding is the only option, do it behind something that will stop a bullet.

And when "avoid" and "deny" fail, there's "defend," which means fight -- and not fairly. Do whatever it takes to stop the shooter.

A week ago, across the country at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Riley Howell, 21, knew he and his classmates might not survive unless someone took down the man who had just opened fire in a lecture hall.

He charged the gunman, knocking him off his feet, allowing a police officer to rush in, disarm the suspect and take him into custody, police said.

Much like that of the 18-year-old in Highlands Ranch, Howell's heroism came at the ultimate price.

Howell receives military honors

"He took the fight to the assailant. ... Unfortunately, he had to give his life to do so, but he saved lives doing so," Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Chief Kerr Putney said. "You're either going to run, you're going to hide and shield, or you're going to take the fight to the assailant. Having no place to run or hide, he did the last."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 36680

Reported Deaths: 1250
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds299254
DeSoto195920
Madison148439
Jones122449
Harrison117716
Rankin112619
Neshoba104677
Forrest103843
Lauderdale96681
Scott82415
Jackson79819
Washington73713
Copiah67016
Leake63420
Lee62822
Oktibbeha61928
Grenada6049
Warren60021
Holmes59541
Lamar5837
Wayne56519
Yazoo5607
Lowndes54817
Leflore53456
Lincoln53335
Lafayette5064
Pike50520
Sunflower5048
Monroe46135
Panola4546
Covington4465
Simpson4433
Bolivar41218
Tate39213
Attala38624
Newton37610
Adams35820
Pontotoc3556
Marion34512
Claiborne30811
Pearl River30332
Winston30111
Chickasaw30019
Marshall2923
Jasper2816
Noxubee2799
Walthall2708
Clay26111
Union25412
Smith25212
Coahoma2306
Clarke22325
Lawrence2132
Yalobusha2089
Tallahatchie1954
Kemper18414
Carroll18211
Montgomery1793
Calhoun1705
Humphreys16910
Hancock14813
Itawamba1478
Tippah14611
Webster13411
Jefferson1283
Prentiss1274
Jefferson Davis1254
Tunica1253
George1233
Greene11610
Amite1123
Alcorn1072
Tishomingo1061
Quitman1011
Wilkinson989
Perry914
Stone772
Choctaw764
Franklin542
Sharkey480
Benton470
Issaquena101
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 54768

Reported Deaths: 1096
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson6746170
Mobile4904140
Montgomery4547112
Tuscaloosa269053
Madison22689
Marshall198011
Shelby169125
Lee159637
Morgan13385
Baldwin127711
Walker107532
Elmore106721
Etowah101114
Dallas10029
DeKalb9677
Franklin93816
Autauga69815
Russell6860
Unassigned67928
Chambers67730
Butler65229
Limestone6393
Tallapoosa63069
Cullman6156
Houston6077
Lauderdale5776
St. Clair5443
Calhoun5155
Colbert5096
Escambia4888
Lowndes48422
Pike4795
Jackson4352
Coffee4284
Covington41612
Talladega4017
Barbour3992
Dale3951
Bullock37810
Hale35423
Marengo35411
Chilton3312
Blount3201
Clarke3176
Wilcox3038
Winston2995
Sumter29213
Marion29014
Pickens2746
Randolph2639
Monroe2603
Perry2502
Conecuh2318
Bibb2241
Macon2199
Choctaw21712
Greene1989
Henry1553
Washington1488
Lawrence1360
Crenshaw1323
Cherokee1247
Geneva980
Lamar891
Clay852
Fayette851
Coosa661
Cleburne451
Out of AL00
Tupelo
Scattered Clouds
90° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 93°
Columbus
Clear
92° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 102°
Oxford
Few Clouds
90° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 92°
Starkville
Clear
88° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 89°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather