Lt. Charles Yslas, owner of Personal Protection Perogative in Roswell, teaches residents, businesses and officials how to survive deadly situations. (Jill McLaughlin Photo)
The tragic incident that unfolded in an Albuquerque church Sunday could happen anywhere, a fact that has motivated one law enforcement professional in Roswell to teach courses to locals on how to survive or even prevent such events.
“It’s as relevant here as anywhere else,” said Lt. Chris Yslas, owner of Personal Protection Prerogative. “We are not immune to it in our area and there is not a lot of training for civilians on how to prevent it.”
Parishioners at St. Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church reported Tuesday that they noticed Lawrence Capener was acting strange. His hands were quite sweaty and clammy and he acted nervously.
“History has shown that in some instances of active (killers), typically … could have actually been prevented or there were warning signs that led up to instances,” Yslas said. “I think if we can prevent one of them from happening rather than train when they occur we can be ahead of the game. I don’t think we can prevent all of them, but with some of the training we do, we’re hoping we can prevent it through the warning signs. Or, if it does occur, teach people how to survive.”
A few years ago, Yslas who started with the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office and now works in law enforcement for the State of New Mexico, invested in creating a training program that people of any income could afford to attend, he said.
He and two trained instructors teach several hundred people each year in conceal carry weapons, surviving an active shooter, developing emergency action plans, tactics to surviving a violent confrontation, verbal judo, tactical handgun, tactical shotgun and other courses. He will also hold a newly created women’s personal defense options-surviving the attack course that costs $20 in the next few months.
Following the recent Albuquerque incident, Yslas was approached locally and by churches across New Mexico to teach private classes as well as asking him to help them develop emergency action plans. The plans guide churches, businesses or organizations on what to do when an individual creates a deadly situation.
“In Albuquerque, where the individual leapt out of his seat and started stabbing people, the emergency action plan would have assigned certain duties to people,” he said. “In the event those people weren’t available, you have secondary people with certain duties.”
The plan would call for someone to be responsible for calling 9-1-1, another for administering first aid and another for providing security, for instance.
“Churches are a target and for whatever reason (so are) schools,” he said. “These places aren’t immune and having realized that, we do a lot of training for them. I see a lot of times when an emergency action plan is put into action, the relief is paramount.”
In the last year that statistics are available, 1,701 children and staff were killed in homicides or by an active killer or violent situation in 2008, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
In 2012, 516 people were killed in the workplace, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Yslas recently taught a class to a group of Roswell Independent School District administrators, he said. Much of the training consisted of teaching them how to deal with problem employees, how to react when a situation comes about and how to deal with it.
“It’s not a matter of when it’s going to happen but where it’s going to happen with everything that’s going on right now, so it’s my hope or justification for (these classes,” Yslas said. “What I did was try to develop reasonable curriculum and classes. I don’t think someone should have to take out a loan to defend themselves. It shouldn’t cost a person an arm and a leg to learn the skills necessary to survive in society.”
The six-hour active shooter course costs $40 and comes with a section on developing an emergency action plan. The conceal carry weapon course is $75. Tactics to surviving a violent confrontation costs $25.
“It’s been really successful,” Yslas said.
One student, Burnie Nicholson, recommends the class to anybody who wants to be prepared. As a business owner, he said the course updated him on current issues.
“It teaches you to act,” Nicholson said. “When you have an active killer in an office and he is taking lives, it teaches you to attack as a group, it teaches you how to grab his legs and have another person start hitting him with whatever they’ve got to make it into a weapon, instead of just being a victim.”
Another student and mother of a 3-year-old, Lisa Sienkiewich, said she is more confident now that she’s taken a few of the courses.
“For a stay-at-home mom that their husbands are off working and they’re by themselves, I would highly recommend them taking a class. You figure out what you need to do and what you don’t need to do,” she said. “I would recommend him to anybody.”
Yslas has already expanded his business. He is signed on to teach seminars for to up to 500 people at a time in El Paso, Phoenix and Dallas this summer, he said.
“I think there’s still some areas and some people who want to remain oblivious to it that it could happen here in Roswell,” Yslas said. “In reality, it has happened here already.”
To learn more, email Yslas at Lt.firstname.lastname@example.org or call 575-317-2925.