An “active shooter” is a person who opens fire with the intent to injure or kill many people, usually in a heavily populated and confined environment. In most cases, active shooters choose their victims at random, their behavior is unpredictable, and a tragic event can happen in a matter of just a few minutes.
However, knowing what to do in an active shooter incident can help save lives. First, it’s important to act quickly.
Here Are Three Options for an Active Shooter Situation:
- Plan your evacuation route (ahead of time)
- Leave everything behind- you want to get out of there as quickly as possible
- Try to save yourself, don’t stay if you can’t convince others to go with you
- However, try to help the people who are also trying to escape
- Don’t try to touch or move anyone who has been wounded
- Put your hands up in the air or make sure they are visible
- Try to keep people from going into an area where an active shooter is
- When you get to a safe location, call 911
- If it’s impossible to leave the location where the active shooter may be, try to get out of the shooter’s view
- Block the entry or lock the door to your hiding place
- Stay quiet and silence your mobile device
- Fighting back as a last resort and only when your life is in imminent danger
- Try to incapacitate the shooter
- Throw things at the shooter (like chairs, desks, books)
- Be physically aggressive towards the shooter, don’t hold back
- Commit to your decision to fight the attacker – your life depends on it.
What to do When the Police Arrive
Remember that you are in an intense situation, where everything is happening very fast. Therefore, when law enforcement comes onto the scene, be sure to:
- Keep calm
- Follow instructions
- Raise both hands, spread your fingers, and don’t hold anything
- Avoid quick jerky movements
- Don’t point, scream, or yell as this can cause more panic
- Don’t bombard law enforcement with questions or grab onto them for safety
- Keep your hands out of your pockets and visible while evacuating the scene
Keep in mind that the first law enforcement responders to arrive at the scene will not help the victims; they are more concerned with isolating the active shooter(s) so that no one else will be injured. Ambulances and emergency teams will soon arrive to take care of the injured parties. Police officers will attempt to usher innocent people into a safe location and will likely be detained until the incident is under control and all witnesses have been questioned and accounted for. Do not leave the scene until law enforcement has dismissed you.
If You See Something, Say Something!
Being cognizant of your surroundings can also help prevent an active shooter incident. Some things to pay attention to include:
- Backpacks, random packages, or duffel bags left unattended
- A window or door that is usually open is chained or barred shut
- A window or door that is usually closed is propped open
- Suspicious-looking people or nonstudents loitering near the campus
- Overhearing someone making threats or talking about violence associated with the campus or reading social media posts alluding to a threat or possible violence on campus
- A person or subjects carrying oversized duffel bags or wearing large coats on warm days
- People who seem nervous, anxious, muttering to themselves, have vacant stares, can’t communicate properly.
- Person adjusting their waistbands, or have large bulges around their waistline or belt
If you notice any of the above suspicious behavior, contact the Executive Director who is the Campus Security Authority immediately. If the situation appears to be life-threatening, call 911 and describe what you observed, such as:
- What you saw
- When you observed the suspicious activity
- The location of the suspicious person/objects
- What the cause is for your concern