Active Shooter

Profile of an Active Shooter

An Active Shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearms(s) and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims. Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. Typically, the immediate deployment of law enforcement is required to stop the shooting and mitigate harm to victims. Because active shooter situations are often over within 10 to 15 minutes, before law enforcement arrives on the scene, individuals must be prepared both mentally and physically to deal with an active shooter situation.

How to Respond When an Active Shooter Is in Your Vicinity

Quickly determine the most reasonable way to protect your own life.


If there is an accessible escape path, attempt to evacuate the premises. Be sure to:

  • Have an escape route and plan in mind
  • Evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow
  • Leave your belongings behind
  • Help others escape, if possible
  • Prevent individuals from entering an area where the active shooter may be
  • Keep your hands visible
  • Follow the instructions of any police officers
  • Do not attempt to move wounded people
  • Call 911 when you are safe


If evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide where the active shooter is less likely to find you. Your hiding place should be out of the active shooter's view, provide protection if shots are fired in your direction (i.e., an office with a closed and locked door), and it should not trap you or restrict your options for movement. To prevent an active shooter from entering your hiding place, lock the door or blockade the door with heavy furniture.

If the active shooter is nearby, lock the door, silence your cell phone and / or pager, turn off any source of noise (i.e., radios, televisions), hide behind large items (i.e., cabinets, desks), and remain quiet.

If evacuation and hiding out are not possible, remain calm, dial 911, if possible, to alert police to the active shooter's location, and if you cannot speak, leave the line open and allow the dispatcher to listen.


As a last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger, attempt to disrupt and / or incapacitate the active shooter by:

  • Acting as aggressively as possible against him / her
  • Throwing items and improvising weapons
  • Yelling
  • Committing to your actions

- U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Good Practices for Coping with an Active Shooter Situation

  • Be aware of your environment and any possible dangers
  • Take note of the two nearest exits in any facility you visit
  • If you are in an office, stay there and secure the door
  • If you are in a hallway, get into a room and secure the door
  • As a last resort, attempt to take the active shooter down. When the shooter is at close range and you cannot flee, your chance of survival is much greater if you try to incapacitate him / her.
  • Call 911 when it is safe to do so!
NTAS - National Terrorism Advisory System