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Active Shooter

Violent incidents, including but not limited to: acts of terrorism, an active shooter, assaults, or other incidents of workplace violence can occur on the University grounds or in close proximity with little or no warning. An active shooter is considered to be a suspect or assailant whose activity is immediately causing serious injury or death and has not been contained.

Clearly, response to an active shooter is one of the most dynamic situations that anyone will ever face. Prior to the arrival of police personnel, how you respond to an active shooter will be dictated by the specific circumstances of the encounter, keeping in mind there could be more than one shooter involved in the same situation.

If you find yourself in an active shooter situation, try to remain as calm as possible and use these suggested actions to help you plan a strategy for survival. The following instructions are intended for incidents that are of an emergent nature (i.e. imminent, or in progress).

Secure the Immediate Area

Whether in a classroom, residence hall room, office or restroom:

  • Lock or barricade the door, if able. Block the door using whatever is available, such as desks, tables, file cabinets, other furniture, etc.
  • After securing the door, stay behind solid objects away from the door as much as possible.
  • If the assailant enters your room and leaves, lock or barricade the door behind them.
  • If safe to do so, allow others to seek refuge with you.

Protective Actions

Take appropriate steps to reduce your vulnerability:

  • Close blinds
  • Block windows
  • Turn off radios and computer monitors
  • Silence cell phones
  • Place signs in interior doors and windows, but remember the assailant can see these as well
  • Place signs in exterior windows to identify your location and the location of injured persons
  • Keep people calm and quiet
  • After securing the room, people should be positioned out of sight and behind items that might offer additional protection, such as walls, desks, file cabinets, bookshelves, etc.

Unsecured Areas

If you find yourself in an open area, immediately seek protection:

  • Put something between you and the assailant
  • Consider trying to escape, if you know where the assailant is and there appears to be an escape route immediately available to you
  • If in doubt, find the safest area available and secure it the best way that you can

Call for Help

Call the University Police Department at 688-5117 or 111 (from an on campus phone), or if residing off campus, call 911. Be aware that the telephone system could very well be overwhelmed. Be prepared to provide the Dispatcher with as much information as possible, such as the following:

  • What is happening
  • Where you are located, including building name and room number
  • Number of people at your specific location
  • Injuries, if any, including the number of injured and types of injuries
  • Your name and other information as requested

Try to provide information in a calm, clear manner so that the Dispatcher can quickly relay your information to responding law enforcement and emergency personnel.

What to Report

Try to note as much as possible about the assailant, including:

  • Specific location and direction of the assailant
  • Number of assailants
  • Gender, race, and age of the assailant(s)
  • Language or commands used by the assailant
  • Clothing color and style
  • Physical features, e.g., height, weight, facial hair, glasses
  • Type of weapons, e.g., handgun, rifle, shotgun, explosives
  • Description of any backpack or bag
  • Do you recognize the assailant? Do you know their name?
  • What exactly did you hear? (e.g., explosions, gunshots, etc.)

Active Shooter Inside Room

  • If the active shooter enters your office or classroom, there are no set procedures that will ensure your safety. The decision to flee or seek shelter inside the room can only be made by you and is dependent upon the circumstances.
  • As hard as it will be, try to remain calm. In the end it will aid you in decision making.
  • If you have called the police but can't speak, leave the line open so the dispatcher can hear what is taking place. Often the location of a caller can be determined without speaking.
  • If there is absolutely no opportunity of escape or concealment and the shooter is not actively firing on victims it might be possible to negotiate with the shooter.
  • If the shooter has fired on victims and you are faced with a life or death situation; only you can consider your next course of action.
  • After all other options have been exhausted, you may be faced with the decision to overpower the shooter with force by whatever means necessary.

Treat the Injured

The Dispatcher will notify law enforcement and other emergency service (EMS) agencies; fire and rescue. EMS will respond to the site, but will not be able to enter the area until it is secured by law enforcement. You may have to treat the injured as best you can until the area is secure.

Remember Basic First Aid

  • For bleeding apply pressure and elevate. Many items can be used for this purpose, e.g. clothing, paper towels, feminine hygiene products, newspapers, etc.
  • Reassure those in the area that help will arrive and try to stay quiet and calm.

Un-securing the Area

  • The assailant may not stop until his objectives have been met or until engaged or neutralized by law enforcement.
  • Always consider the risk of exposure by opening the door for any reason.
  • Attempts to rescue people only should be made if it can be done without further endangering either yourself or the persons inside of the secured area.
  • Be aware that the assailant may bang on the door, yell for help, or otherwise attempt to entice you to open the door of a secured area.
  • If there is any doubt about the safety of the individuals inside the room, the area needs to remain secured.

Law Enforcement Response - What You Should Expect

Responding police officers are trained to proceed immediately to the area where the shots were last heard; their purpose is to stop the shooting as quickly as possible. The first officers on the scene will likely be from the University Police Department. Depending on the situation, they may be joined by officers from different agencies and dressed in different uniforms. There may even be some officers in civilian clothes wearing an external bulletproof vest. Some officers may be dressed in Kevlar helmets and other tactical equipment. They may be armed with rifles, shotguns or handguns. Responding police will have their weapons drawn and ready for use. They will not know exactly who the shooter is and will probably point weapons at you. Remain calm and follow any directions they may give you. You may be asked questions, patted down, and given orders to exit. Do as the officers tell you and do not be afraid of them. Remember:

Help Is On the Way

It is important for you to:

  • Remain inside the secure area.
  • Law enforcement will locate, contain, and stop the assailant.
  • The safest place for you to be is in a secure room.
  • The assailant may not flee when law enforcement enters the building, but instead may target arriving officers.

Injured Persons

Initial responding officers will not treat the injured or begin evacuation until the threat is neutralized and the area is secure.

  • You may need to explain this to others to calm them.
  • Once the threat is neutralized, officers will begin treatment and evacuation.


Responding officers will establish safe corridors for persons to evacuate.

  • This may be time consuming.
  • Remain in secure areas until instructed otherwise.
  • You may be instructed to keep your hands on your head.
  • You may be searched.
  • You may be escorted out of the building by law enforcement personnel, simply follow their directions.
  • After evacuation you may be taken to a staging or holding area for medical care, interviewing, counseling, etc.
  • Once you have been evacuated you will not be permitted to retrieve items or access the area until law enforcement releases the crime scene.