Tactical training expert discusses Oak Creek shooting response

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OAK CREEK -- For first officers to the scene following the initial 911 calls regarding the Sikh Temple shooting that left six dead and critically wounded three, there were so many questions. The shooter in the case, 40-year-old Wade Michael Page was gunned down by Oak Creek police outside the temple. Before officers could help anyone on the inside of the temple, they had to make sure it was safe. One of those who trains officers to handle these types of situations lives in Milwaukee, and provided some insight as to how the tactical team handled this shooting.

A group of 100 consultants travels the country, training emergency responders on handling major incidents like a mass shooting or chemical attack. One of those consultants is a former Milwaukee Fire Captain, who says the approach has changed over time.

When training for a mass shooting, there is a lot to cover. Anthony Wichman says in recent years, the approach has changed for first responders.

"Rather than looking at Columbine, where you will have your responders all stay back and set up a tactical situation, responders now are doing a much more immediate, active approach in trying to get between the shooter and any victims," Wichman said.

Oak Creek Police Lt. Brian Murphy was among the first to the scene Sunday, and was providing aid to a victim in the temple's parking lot when he was reportedly "ambushed" by Page. Lt. Murphy was shot eight or nine times, before Oak Creek police shot and killed Page.

After officials determined Page was no longer a threat, they gathered outside the temple, but didn't go in.

"Those responders are looking actively for devices on the scene. Are there gonna be potential pipe bombs, car bombs?" Wichman said.

On Sunday, a remote-controlled camera was dispatched into the temple. Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards said it helped them see what was happening inside.

"It made it safer for everybody involved so we can go in and do what we need to do. It does take somewhat longer, but the alternative is not that pleasant," Chief Edwards said.

Wichman said the military uses the technology overseas and on Sunday, officers had to take similar precautions.

"If the responders can't get in, who's gonna rescue the rescuers? That's what we always train and what the fire and police are always looking at," Wichman said.

Officials in Oak Creek Sunday also set up a three-square-foot perimeter and brought in tactical units to search on the ground and in the air. They also did what's called a door-to-door, knock-and-talk, meeting with residents in the area to ensure everyone was safe.

Wichman will be in West Virginia later this month to help present the current training guide to the Department of Homeland Security, which works with his group -- the International Association of Firefighters. Wichman says the shootings in Oak Creek and Aurora, Colorado will likely lead to changes.

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