Active Shooter

Risk of an Active Shooter Event

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, an active shooter is usually an individual who is engaged in attempting to kill or harm people in a confined and populated area through the use of firearms.

Victims are often selected at random and the event is unpredictable. Should you find yourself coping with an active shooter, remain calm and be aware of your environment and exits.

  • Evacuate: If there is an accessible and safe escape path, attempt to evacuate the area. Leave your belongings behind and keep your hands visible. Prevent individuals from heading towards the active shooter and follow the instructions of law enforcement.
  • Hide: If evacuation is not possible, attempt to hide from the active shooter. Be outside of the active shooter's view and try to find a hiding spot that provides protection should shots be fired in your direction. If possible, lock any doors and block doors with heavy furniture. Silence any electronics and turn off any items that may attract the active shooter's attention, such as televisions or radios. If the active shooter is nearby, remain quiet and dial 911 to alert law enforcement of the shooter's position. If you cannot speak, leave the line open for the 911 dispatcher to listen.
  • Take action: As a last resort, and when your life is in danger, try to disrupt or incapacitate the active shooter. Throw and improvise weapons and commit to your actions.

When law enforcement arrives, immediately raise hands and spread fingers. Do not make quick movements towards officers and avoid screaming and yelling; remain calm. Proceed in the direction from which law enforcement arrived. Law enforcement officials may not be in a position to assist you as they are actively pursuing the shooter.

If possible, provide law enforcement with any information about the active shooter, such as a physical description of the shooter(s), any potential victims and any weapons held by the shooter(s). Keep in mind that the first law enforcement on the scene will not stop to help injured individuals; rescue teams will follow.

After reaching a safe location or assembly area, you will likely be held by law enforcement until the situation is under control and witnesses have been questioned. Do not leave the area until law enforcement authorities have instructed you to do so.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has developed resources such as posters, pocket guides, and videos to raise awareness of the indicators of an active shooter incident and how to respond. You may access these materials in English here. You may access these materials in Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Punjabi, Russian, Somali, Spanish, and Urdu here.

For more information, contact the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management at 214-653-7980.