An Active Attacker is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims.
Active attacker situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. Typically, the immediate deployment of law enforcement is required to stop the attack and mitigate harm to victims.
Because active attacker situations are often over within minutes, individuals must be prepared both mentally and physically to deal with an active attacker situation.
An active attacker situation can cause panic and disbelief. Knowing what to do in advance increases your chances of surviving. Your reaction matters.
If you hear shots fired or if you witness an armed person shooting or threatening people with a weapon:
Immediately choose the best way to protect your life. Very quickly, make your best determination of what is occurring and which of the options below will provide the greatest degree of security for you employing the RUN-HIDE-FIGHT protocol.
- Have an escape route or plan in mind.
- If there is considerable distance between you and the gunfire/armed person, quickly move away. If the gunfire/armed person is in your building and it is safe to do so, run out of the building and move far away until you are in a secure place to hide.
- Visitors will follow the example of faculty, staff and students.
- If possible, help others escape but do not stay behind because others will not go.
- Leave your belongings behind.
- Remain calm and follow officers’ instructions.
- Keep your hands raised and keep them visible at all times.
- Avoid making sudden moves or grabbing the police officers.
- Do not stop the officer and ask for assistance, other emergency personnel following on will assist you.
- Call 911 when it is safe to do so. Don't assume someone else has reported the incident. Provide the police with the location, number and description of shooter(s).
- If an evacuation is not possible and you can not evacuate safely, hide where the active attacker less likely to find you.
- Lock and barricade the doors by moving heavy objects, such as desks, or cabinets in front of the door.
- Move away from all windows and pull any blinds or shades.
- Hide behind something substantial like thicker walls and fewer windows.
- Remain quiet and calm.
- Silence all cellphones, radios and televisions.
- Turn off lights.
- Dial 911, if possible to alert police to the active shooter’s location.
- If you cannot speak, leave the line open and allow the dispatcher to listen.
- Remain in place until you receive an "All Clear" from the university's emergency alert notification system.
- Only when your life is in imminent danger, and you cannot run away or hide, taking action is the last resort.
- Do not be afraid to fight.
- Act aggressively as possible against the shooter.
- Use common items as weapons, such as chairs, books, fire extinguishers or other heavy items.
- Use numbers to overwhelm the attacker. There is strength when you work together.
Active Attacker Preparedness
- Location of the active threat
- Description of attacker(s)
- Number and type of weapons and/or suspicious packages
- Location of victims and hazards (fire or explosions)
- Follow all instructions from officers
- Keep your hands visible at all times
- Tell officers where the attacker is, if you know
Police officers responding to an active attacker are trained to proceed immediately to the area in which shots were last heard in order to stop the shooting as quickly as possible and create a safe environment for medical assistance to be brought in to aid the injured.
The responding officers may be in teams dressed in normal patrol uniforms, or they may be wearing external ballistic vests and other tactical gear. Expect to see different uniforms or officers in civilian clothes because officers will be deployed from different departments.
- End the threat
- Render medical aid
- Evacuate people safely