"Active shooter" is the term used to describe a person who appears to be actively engaged in attempting to kill people in a populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearm(s) and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims. An armed intruder/active shooter can be anyone, young or old; avoid stereotypes. These situations are dynamic and evolve rapidly, demanding immediate deployment of law enforcement resources to stop the shooting and mitigate harm to innocent victims. Past experiences shows us that these situations are usually over very quickly, and you need to be prepared to protect yourself before law enforcement can get there.
This document provides guidance to members of the college community who may be caught in an armed intruder/active shooter situation, and describes what to expect from responding police officers. Local law enforcement has adopted nationally accepted law enforcement response procedures to contain and neutralize such threats. Other area law enforcement agencies will provide assistance as needed.
Guidance to faculty, staff, and students In general, how you respond to an armed intruder/active shooter will be dictated by the specific circumstances of the encounter, bearing in mind there could be more than one shooter involved in the same situation. If you find yourself involved in an armed intruder/active shooter situation, try to remain calm and focused. The following information will aid you in deciding which course of action might be the best option depending on the situation. Use these strategies to help form a plan for survival.
If you hear what sounds like gunshots or popping: Immediately assume they are gunshots and don't investigate; quickly decide one of the three courses of action:
If an active shooter is outside the building:
- Can you stay where you are and secure yourself from the shooter? If so, take action and secure your position, and if it is safe, immediately call 911.
- Can you escape the building or get to an area where you are secure from the shooter(or at least some place where the shooter can't see you)? Get to a secure area if possible, and call 911.
- Are you unable to escape from a shooter? If you can't escape, you need to assess the situation to see if you can shield yourself, or if you need to prepare to take aggressive action to protect yourself.
If possible, proceed to a room that can be locked and if available to a room with a door that has no sidelight, or one too small for a body to enter.
Close and lock all the windows and doors, and turn off all the lights.
If possible and time allows assure windows are covered.
If the room cannot be locked, barricade the door with heavy furniture such as desks, tables, and bookcases, or whatever is available.
Attempt to get everyone down on the floor and ensure that no one is visible from outside the room.
One person in the room should call 911. Advise the dispatcher of what is taking place and inform him/her of your location.
Remain in place until the police or a campus administrator known to you gives you the "all clear". Unfamiliar voices may be the shooter attempting to lure victims from their safe spaces. Do not respond to any voice commands until you can verify with certainty that they are being issued by a police officer.
If an active shooter is in the same building as you:
Determine if the room you are in can be locked, and if so, follow the same procedure described above.
If your room cannot be locked, determine if there is a nearby location that can be reached safely and is securable, or if you can safely exit the building.
If you decide to move from your current location, run and attempt to alert others as you exit the area/building. After exiting, warn others from entering the area/building of danger and call 911 as soon as you've reached a safe place.
If you cannot safely exit the building and the room cannot be locked, barricade the door with heavy furniture such as desks, tables, and bookcases, or whatever is available and follow the same procedure described above.
If an armed intruder/active shooter enters your office or classroom:
No matter what the circumstances, if you decide to flee during an armed intruder/active shooting situation, make sure you have an escape route and plan in mind, and follow these guidelines:
- Try to remain calm
- Dial 911, if possible, and alert police to the shooter's location. If you can't speak, leave the phone line open so the dispatcher can listen to what's taking place. At times, the location of a 911 call can be determined without speaking.
- If there is absolutely no opportunity to escape or hide, attempt to shield yourself with any available object (i.e., desk, book bags, computers, etc.).
- It might be possible to negotiate with the shooter.
- If you and others decide there is no other choice but to make an attempt to overpower the shooter, realize this will involve significant risk and cannot be accomplished half-heartedly. If the decision is made to confront and attempt to overpower the shooter, experts recommend spreading out and not standing in a group.
- It may be possible to disorient the shooter by yelling and throwing items. Remember, this will involve significant risk and may involve final attempts to preserve innocent lives. If the shooter leaves the area, proceed to a safer place and do not touch anything that was in the vicinity of the shooter.
Do not attempt to carry anything while fleeing.
Move quickly, keep your hands visible, and follow the instructions of any police officers you may encounter.
Do not attempt to remove injured people. Instead, leave wounded victims where they are and notify authorities of their location as soon as possible.
Do not try to drive off campus until advised it is safe to do so by police or campus administrators. Law enforcement authorities will want to speak with you to obtain information.
What to expect from responding police officers: Police officers responding to an armed intruder/active shooter are trained to proceed immediately to the area in which shots were last heard. Their purpose is to stop shooting as quickly as possible. The first responding officers will normally be in teams of four or possibly fewer. They may be dressed in regular patrol uniforms, or they may be wearing external bullet resistive vests, helmets, and other tactical equipment. The officers may be armed with rifles, shotguns, or handguns, and might be using pepper spray or tear gas to control the situation.
Regardless of how they appear, remain calm, do exactly as the officers tell you, and do not be afraid of them. Do not ask questions, but provide important information such as the location of the shooter if you are certain of such information. In an active shooter scenario, police officers may not be able to immediately differentiate a shooter from a non-shooter if the weapon is hidden. The assailant may attempt to blend in with the crowd to avoid detection. The police officers' verbal commands will be loud and extremely insistent; do not be offended. Put down your bags or packages you may be carrying and keep you hands visible at all times. The first officers to arrive will not stop to aid injured people; rescue team composed of other officers and emergency medical personnel will follow the first officers into secure areas to treat and remove injured persons. Keep in mind that even once you have escaped to a safer location, the entire area is still a crime scene. Police will usually not allow anyone to leave until the situation is fully under control and all witnesses have been identified and questioned. Until you are released, remain at whatever assembly point authorities designate. If you have questions, please contact Campus Security at 509.574.4610.
This video was prepared by the city of Houston, Texas and is designedto
improve public awareness, safety, and response to such acts of violence.