The Colorado Planned Parenthood Active Shooter

Written by Greg Ellifritz

Topics: News and Tactical Advice

  • SumoMe

Written by: Greg Ellifritz



Yesterday, I wrote an article about a horrendous active killer attack in Indonesia.  In that article, I advised folks not to engage.  I postulated that escaping would lead to a far safer outcome.


But not all active killer events are the same.  Let’s contrast the Indonesian attack with the Colorado Planned Parenthood attack that occurred on November 27, 2015.


Both attacks were of similar duration.  There created a similar number of fatalities.  The big difference was that the Indonesian attack was coordinated in a symphonic manner with up to 14 different terrorists attacking seven different targets.  The Colorado shooting involved just one guy, who mainly shot folks in a single building.


The Colorado gunman is on trial for murder.  He called up a news station and gave a statement last week.  Read about what he said in this ARTICLE.  From the report:


“‘I felt like they were going to get me, and so I am going to pick where I am going to make my last stand, and I picked Planned Parenthood because it’s murdering little babies,’ he said. 

‘Well, when I got there, of course, those guys knew I was armed, knew everything about me. They slither off like snakes and they get the local cops to do their dirty work, so that’s why the shootout was there.”


These are the obvious rantings of a delusional crazy man.  He thought FBI agents were following him, so he chose to pick the location of his “final stand.”  He planned to use explosives as well, but he wasn’t quite as sophisticated as the Indonesian killers.  His explosive of choice was a couple of propane tanks in the back of his pickup truck that he unsuccessfully tried to shoot with his rifle.


This is a nutcase with a gun.  He isn’t thinking rationally.  He isn’t prepared.  He’s delusional.  He is also dead meat if he one of his intended “victims” was armed and had even a small amount of tactical training.


His mental illness doesn’t mean he is less dangerous.  It just means that he is more susceptible to a counter-attack or ambush than the 14 Indonesians who operated as a team and had sniper overwatch capability.


Do you see the difference between the attacks?  One was in the streets while the other was inside a building.  One involved teamwork and multiple terrorists while the other was a single killer.  One involved detailed planning and the other was a spur of the moment delusional attack.  It might be perfectly appropriate to “go hunting” in one case when running for your life might be a better response to the other.


The problem I see with most armed citizens (and many cops for that matter) is that they don’t have the training and knowledge to differentiate between the two types of attacks while engaged in the situation.  To be able to do that requires some practical scenario-based training, some common sense, and some diligent study of past events.  Most people won’t do that.  The distinction between knowing “when to hold ’em” and when to “walk away” is subtle and easily missed by someone who hasn’t done his homework.  I want my readers not only to have done their homework, but to have been awarded an “A” for their effort.


In all truth, the active killer event you may have to face is likely to be more similar to this one than to the symphonic mass terrorist attack in Indonesia.  Most active killers aren’t supermen.  They can be taken out by an armed citizen with some courage and a little training.  But some are far more complex, requiring a “tactical retreat” in order to survive. If you are going to play in this game, you have to understand the differences between the two.


Study hard.  Learn the material.  You don’t know when the test will happen, but unlike in school, an “F” on this test means “fatality.”  Make sure you pass the test.




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3 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Gary says:


    Two great thought-provoking articles. From my perspective, the biggest challenge for the armed citizen is being able to tell the difference between the two different kinds of attack soon enough. In both cases I suspect it appeared there was just one attacker at the start at each location. It was only later that it turned out that there were multiple attackers. So, I understand the desire to stop the “one attacker”. By the time it becomes apparent there are multiple attackers, the situation has changed dramatically and it may be too late to change your plan of action.

    • George says:

      Excellent point. That’s not taking a thing away from both very informative articles just illustrating the tough job faced by armed responders to active shooter/murderer scenes.

      Ultimately, there are no hard and fast rules for active killing zones. With evolving tactics by the bad guys, we have to face the reality that people are going to die, often lots of good guys might die before the threat is defeated. Not a happy thought but certainly a real possibility. Hmm, definitely a LOT to think about when considering what tactics to teach officers and armed citizens.

  2. John says:

    I read this article this morning and was just coming back to post the same thought as Gary.

    Other than actually putting eyes on multiple shooters, or hearing (and being able to identify) shots fired from different locations, what can an armed citizen (or any responder) look for in the heat of the moment, to determine if this is a traditional single-shooter incident or something more coordinated and involving multiple assailants?