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Recognizing the warning signs of someone in crisis

Recognizing the warning signs of...

SPOKANE, Wash. - In the wake of the tragic shooting at Freeman High School, many people may be wondering if anything could have been done to prevent it.

Experts say knowing the warning signs of someone in crisis and reaching out to that person can make a difference.

Spokane County Sheriff's Deputy Chris Johnston helps lead the crime prevention unit and specializes in training people to properly respond to and prevent active shootings.

He said it's crucial to pay close attention to people around you so you can speak up before that person does something dangerous.

"I feel like if we identify people in crisis, people who need help, and we intervene with that person sooner than later, we have a much better chance of reducing the risk that an attack like this would be carried out," Deputy Johnston said.

Following Wednesday's school shooting near Spokane, law enforcement members are weighing in on the important role each person can take to reach out to friends, family or peers facing hard times.

"Someone who would commit such an act is not necessarily someone who is a criminal or stands out as a criminal, is instead someone in a crisis and someone who is in need of services or help," Johnston said.

Johnston said major loss or trauma can trigger someone to inflict personal harm or hurt others.

"There is a vast variety of things that could kind of be indicators in a person but the main things are a change, a significant change, a significant change in emotional behavior ,a significant change in how somebody interacts with other people," Johnston said.

According to Johnston, some people might make vocal threats, while others keep their emotions hidden. Whatever the case, Deputy Johnston said it's crucial to notice changes and get help before it's too late.

"There is a big difference between kind of being a tattle tale and being willing to speak up if you see signs or hear signs that someone might be considering violence as a way to solve their problems,” Johnston said.

There are deputies at many schools in the county that provide safety information to students and are available to report potentially dangerous situations to.

The Spokane County Sheriff's Office also offers training resources to the public. You can contact Deputy Johnston directly for more information about that. His email is crjohnston@spokanesheriff.org.