On December 20th of 1983 my life was turned upside down. Myself and seven of my friends were spending time together during Christmas break. One minute we are all laughing and the next moment we were frozen in fear. A man burst through the door with a gun with every intent of killing us. I can’t describe the fear of looking down the barrel of a gun, knowing my life was over. I wasn’t prepared and had no idea of what to do. If I had known then what I know now things might be different. If it weren’t for our friend this story would have been all over the news. Our friend didn’t want to die, but knew this guy was going to kill us. He tackled the man as the gun went off, but got the man’s finger off the trigger. My friend was shot and took his last breath in the back of an ambulance. After his funeral, I decided I was going into the Marines. I was determined to learn everything I could to protect those around me.
Three of the nine years I served was spent at Quantico training Marines how to shoot. I learned everything I could about firearms vowing never to forget my friend. One of the many things I learned was that a gun can not fire without someone’s finger on the trigger. You remove the shooter’s finger from the trigger and you remove the threat. I will never disrespect any victim of the past by saying what they should have done or what I would have done. The truth is we will never know unless we were there. I can only say what I need to do and what I hope to do if ever in that situation. These mass shootings will continue until the media begins to show respect for the victims by keeping the shooters face of television. That coward in South Carolina wanted attention and the media continues to give it to him. Copycats are watching the footage and thinking about doing something worse. They think we will panic and it is time to prove them wrong. I pray none of you find yourself face to face with a shooter. But if you do we need to prepare ourselves with options. If you think of these options now you might apply them if needed.
We have to remove the shooter’s finger from the trigger. When you remove the threat his life is now in your hands. It is reported that the shooter in South Carolina reloaded on more than one occasion. Those few seconds are a golden opportunity to pounce. We have to decide that we are not going down without a fight. We have to tackle the shooter, eliminate the threat, and we will save lives. Now that I have gone over these options, I only pray that each of you prepare for the things that never happen. I will come to any place of worship and give free classes on the different options to protect you and those you love. It doesn’t matter what color, race, or religion we must stand together against hate. Our kids have fire drills in school and it’s time we start having mass shooter drills. You can contact me through Twitter @mshep08_mike. May God forever bless all that each of you love, Shep