An Active Shooter is a situation where one or more suspects participate in a random or systematic shooting spree and demonstrate intent to continuously harm others. The overriding objective appears to be that of inflicting serious bodily injury/death rather than other criminal conduct. These situations are dynamic and evolve rapidly, demanding immediate deployment of law enforcement resources to stop the shooting and mitigate harm to innocent victims.
What to Expect from Responding Police Officers
- Police officers responding to an active shooter 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 responding officers may possibly be from different police agencies and dressed in different uniforms. They may even be in civilian clothes and wearing an external bulletproof vest.
- Regardless of how officers appear, remain calm. Do as the officers tell you, and do not be afraid of them. Put down any bags or packages that you are carrying and keep your hands visible at all times.
- If you know where the shooter is, or know the shooters description, tell the officers.
- The first officers to arrive will not stop to aid injured victims. Rescue teams will follow shortly after the first responding officers enter the area. They will attend to the injured and remove everyone safely from the area.
- Keep in mind that once you have escaped to a safer location, the entire area is still a crime scene. Police will usually not let anyone leave until the situation is under control and witnesses have been identified. Until you have been released, remain at whatever assembly point authorities designate.
What Else Can You Do?
Prepare a plan of action for an active shooter in advance. Determine possible escape routes and know where the nearest building exits are.
Information from UCPD’s Your Response to an Active Shooter Brochure (PDF).
What to Do Based on Location
- In the Classroom or Office
What to do:
-If you are in a classroom, room or office, STAY THERE, secure the door and turn off the lights. Remain silent.
-If the door has no lock and the door opens in, a heavy door wedge can be kept on hand and used, otherwise look for heavy furniture to barricade the door. If the door has a window, cover it.
-Depending on the gunmen’s location, you may also exit through windows. Have someone watch as you get as many students out through windows as calmly and as quietly as possible.
-If the windows don’t open, or you cannot break them, or you are not on a ground floor, get out of sight from the door and stay low and quiet.
-If no police units are on scene, move well away from the incident and find safe cover positions (not the parking lots) and wait for the police to arrive.
-When police officers arrive, keep your hands on top of your head and do exactly what the Police tell you to do.
- In Hallways or Corridors
What to do:
-If in a hallway, get in a room that is not already secured and secure it.
-Unless you are very close to an exit, don’t run through a long hall to get to one, as you may encounter the gunmen or hostage taker.
- In Large Rooms / Auditoriums
What to do:
-If in a gym or theater area and the gunmen are not present, move to and out the external exits and move toward any police unit. Drop all bags and keep your hands on your head. Do what the police tell you to do.
- Open Spaces
What to do:
-Stay alert and look for appropriate cover locations. Hard cover, such as brick walls, large trees, retaining walls, parked vehicles, and any other object that may stop bullets, may be utilized as cover.
- Trapped with the Gunmen
What to do:
-If you are trapped with the gunmen, don’t do anything to provoke them.
-If they are not shooting, do what they say and don’t move suddenly.
-There is no set procedure in this situation. If possible call 911 and talk with a police dispatcher. If you cannot speak, leave the phone line open so the police can hear what is going on.
-If they do start shooting people, you need to make a choice: stay still and hope they don’t shoot you, run for an exit while zigzaging, or attack the shooter. If you chose to run, a zigzagging moving target is much harder to hit than a straight runner. Playing dead may also be a consideration.
-It is not a recommendation to attack the shooter, but remember that you have a choice to fight when there are no other options. The last thing that the shooter will expect is to be attacked by you.