The city of Toronto is typically a pretty united city – especially when it comes to our beloved sports. What the people of Toronto experienced and witnessed in the past week however, has brought an already close knit community, closer then ever.
Once again, the selfish acts of one individual have wreaked terror and horror on bustling city sidewalks. While this was not an act of terror this time, the outcome is hardly any different.
Lives were lost, people were broken, and humanity was brought to its knees once again.
To recap for those that remain blissfully unaware – a rented van was driven up onto the sidewalk taking out everything and everyone its path. Ten people were killed and 16 injured.
From the time of the first 911 call to the moment when Police had the suspect in their control was seven (long) minutes. What people are talking about however, is the masterfully and skillful way in which a super tense situation was handled.
Const. Ken Lam showed up to work with the Toronto Police on a day like any other. All Police officers show up to work expecting a normal (for them) day, however are prepared for the unexpected. Today was one of those days, and as Cons. Lam arrived at the scene, I’m sure the last thought he had was being hailed as the hero of Toronto.
Cons. Lam was the arresting officer in this awful attack, and what he did was really, as a matter of fact – just his job. He showed up, and he did his job. The fact he did it while in the face of danger, in an incredibly tense moment and did it so calmly, and without a shot being fired is what has the world talking. In a climate where people are so quick to draw their weapon and fire, This young man, did indeed have his weapon drawn, but he didn’t fire. He spoke calmly and bravely. He single handedly deescalated a situation and brought the suspect under control.
While he himself may not deem his actions as heroic – and perhaps a lot of people feel or know he was simply just doing what is listed under his job description. Const. Ken Lam was the man that showed up and brought the killing spree to an end. It was him that made the arrest. Therefore, in the eyes of Toronto and around the world – he is the hero.
It could have been any one of Toronto’s finest that day – all of them heroes in their own way. But on Monday April 23rd, 2018 – He was the hero of Toronto.
Being an unlikely hero is not a one time occurrence.
There was a shooting at a Waffle House in the United States last week. As always, media tends to put a large amount of the focus on the shooter – this time a disturbed individual with a history of run ins with law enforcement.
In a lot of events, there is sometimes an individual, or individuals who step up and try to take matters into their own hands and stop any further loss of life.
In this situation, James Shaw Jr was doing what any of us would be most likely doing in this type of event – hiding. He hid in the restaurants bathroom as the shooter was trying to shoot him. He was hit in the arm and knew that the next shot might cause more damage. As the feeling of fight or flight hit, the shooter was glancing down at his gun, and this unlikely hero took it upon himself to do something he would later describe as selfish. In an effort to save his own life, he launched himself at the shooter, disarming him and throwing the gun over the counter. He chased the shooter outside the restaurant where he ran into the woods and has yet to be found.
James has issued a statement saying he is not a hero, he was acting merely to save his own life. Which may be true – however in doing so, he also potentially saved the lives of who knows how many others. This James – This is what makes you a hero.
Whether you’re acting with selfish intentions or not, risking your life to prevent any further injury or loss of life is a heroic action.
And Const. Ken Lam and James are not alone.
There have been numerous instances where people have stepped in to protect before others have had the opportunity to respond.
Just in recent years alone, a gentleman – Ian Grillot – was shot in the chest and hand while trying to defend two men in a bar in Kansas.
In the Quebec Mosque shooting in 2017, Aymen Derbali was left paralyzed in a shooting that left 6 killed and 19 injured.
In 2015, three Americans’ were traveling on a train in France when they overpowered a gunman before anyone could be injured.
Then of course more notably would be the group of passengers that stormed the cockpit of one of the planes hijacked during 911. The plane unfortunately still crashed and everyone was killed, but it crashed into a field instead of a building as most likely originally intended by the terrorists.
Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. Whether they are the intended security for an event, Police, ‘selfish’ individuals who are first and foremost trying to save themselves. Whatever their intent is, by stopping or slowing down an attacker, they’re helping to save lives.
While it is the role of security and police to step in and protect, in some situations, they can’t be everywhere at all times.
In some instances security takes the role as more of the ‘eyes’ watching cameras and monitors in an effort to oversee more areas at the same time.
In other instances, its not reasonable to have hired security or police in all locations. You wouldn’t have security hired to watch over your local McDonalds or grocery store would you?
After preforming a threat and risk assessment, the likelihood of an attack would not be very great. Why spend additional resources on something that is not very likely.
On the other hand, if a location feels a threat is imminent, then perhaps looking into security or having police on hand is something that needs to be addressed.
Unfortunately with most of the attacks in the US, they all take place at locations where there typically isn’t a threat. Schools, restaurants, streets – random every day locations that should be otherwise safe.
This is where our unlikely heroes step in. Everyday civilians in the wrong place at the wrong time – or in the eyes of others, at the right place at the right time as they’re the heroes that have saved others.
However you see it – people that fight the urge to flee, and risk it all to fight, these are everyday heroes. They are unintended security, stepping up where others haven’t.
Them, along with the security and Police that do this as part of their everyday jobs – they are the ones to be thankful for.
Guest Blogger Rayna Davies
Rayna Davies is a graduate and practitioner of Business Management. She has developed an expertise in blogging, covering subjects like travel, world events and security. Having grown up with a father who has developed an expertise in Physical Security and Executive Protection in the RCMP and two major corporations, she has personally observed and experienced many security details. These experiences have included personally meeting HM Queen Elizabeth, Prime Minister Jean Chretien and many celebrities. She presently assists Sentinel Security in Executive Protection workshops and guest blogging and also assists Gloprosec Preventative Services in Intelligence gathering and Business Administration. Her passions include World travel, having visited every continent. She currently is on maternity leave and providing daily close protection for a baby and a toddler and spending time with her husband who is a Police Officer.