Investigators said 20 year-old Iowa resident Mollie Tibbetts warned the suspect who allegedly killed her to stay back and leave her alone, or else she would call 9-1-1. One safety expert says those who feel they may be in danger should take it a step further. 

Jason Weber, the public safety coordinator at NWTC who has also worked in law enforcement, said if you are approached by person whose intentions seem suspicious, don’t wait for them to make the first move.

“We have learned that action always beats reaction, so if we can be prepared and kind of go on that offensive, you’ll always, every time, studies have shown and we have tried that with our instructors and whoever moves first or whoever acts, is usually going to win,” Weber said. 

NWTC offers a self-defense class open to the public that teaches students how to handle those types of situations.

“It’s two-fold,” Weber said. “It teaches people how to react, but also how to act.”

When it comes to walking or jogging alone, Weber said you should always carry mace with you, stay in populated areas and avoid quieter trails. Make sure you stay aware of your surroundings, especially if you are listening to music through headphones.

Certain smartphones now have features that contact 9-1-1 for you if you don’t have time to dial. Check with your phone’s manufacturer for the latest safety features.

There are also apps that can share your location with your friends and family when you are on the move, like RoadiD and Life360.

Weber said it is best to run with a friend instead of going out alone.

NWTC’s next self-defense class is this October. For more information, call 920-498-5444.