Active Shooter

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the definition of an active shooter?
An armed person who has used deadly physical force on other persons, or is inflicting “Great Bodily Injury" (GBI) and continues to do so while having unrestricted access to additional victims.

What is the typical goal of an active shooter?
In almost every case the active shooter is looking for a soft target - one where the shooter will not encounter a lot of resistance. An active shooter typically is not interested in negotiations, hostages, or his own survival. The shooter knows s/he has a limited amount of time before they are stopped. They may also be motivated in being remembered by killing as many people as they can before law enforcement arrives on the scene. Law Enforcement now recommends for people not to mention the names of active shooters anymore to prevent the shooters from achieving their goal of notoriety.

Why are the schools such a target for the active shooter?
An active shooter inside a school is a shock to any community. School children have typically been conditioned to be non-violent during a conflict situation and to never fight back for any reason. Many schools have no realistic active shooter training. Schools are weapon free zones. There is little chance the shooter will be stopped inside a school by another person carrying a weapon except for responding law enforcement.

What is the average time span of an active shooter incident?
An active shooter incident is typically over within nine minutes. Training for an active shooter increases the chances of survival. A shot can be fired every four to fifteen seconds within that nine minutes. Statistics show typically the active shooter has stopped shooting prior to the arrival of law enforcement. Statistics reveal 40% of active shooters commit suicide before law enforcement entry. Another 40% of active shooters are stopped physically by civilians inside the school prior to law enforcement entry.

What will law enforcement do once they arrive on the scene to stop the active shooter?
The initial police officers' goal is to stop the active shooter as soon as possible to prevent any further death or injuries. The police officers will not evacuate or tend to the injured until the active shooter has been stopped. Victims should remain as calm as possible and follow the police officer’s instructions. Keep their hands visible at all times. Avoid pointing or yelling, and know that help for them is on the way.

What will law enforcement do once the active shooter has been stopped?
Law enforcement and the Fire Department personnel will give medical assistance to all injured persons. Non-injured people will be relocated to a safe area away from the scene. Police will begin the task of collecting evidence and preserving the crime scene. Employees, or Staff and students, will be questioned, debriefed, and relocated to a pre-determined location away from the site for re-unification with family, parents or guardians. The media will be given information to broadcast to the community where the relocation will be.

What can I do in response to an active shooter?
Educating yourself about active shooter incidents is a great start. Obviously, there is no guarantee that learning this information will prevent such an incident from happening. However, if you have a plan as to how to react if faced with an active shooter incident, your chances of survival and helping those around you are substantially increased. The Department of Homeland Security, as well as law enforcement nationwide, recommends the “Run, Hide, Fight” plan. 

What is “Run, Hide, Fight” Plan?

  1. Run 
    1. If there is an escape path, attempt to evacuate.
    2. Evacuate whether others agree or not.
    3. Leave your belongings behind.
    4. Help others escape if possible.
    5. Prevent others from entering the danger area.
    6. Call 911 when you are safe.
  2. Hide 
    1. If escape is not an option, find a place to hide.
    2. Lock or blockade the door.
    3. Hide behind very large objects.
    4. Remain very quiet. Your hiding place should:
      • Be out of the shooters view.
      • Provide protection if shots are fired in your direction.
      • Not trap or restrict your option of movement.
  3. Fight 
    1. Attempt to incapacitate the shooter.
    2. Act with physical aggression.
    3. Improvise your weapons.
    4. Commit to your actions.

Run, Hide, Fight Video

This video, produced by the Houston Mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security, dramatizes an active shooter incident in the workplace. Its purpose is to educate the public on how to respond during such an incident. 

Warning: The initial sequence in this video may be disturbing.

Additional Resources:

The Department of Homeland Security has developed a series of materials to assist businesses, government offices, schools and private citizens in preparing for and responding to an active shooter.  You may access the material hosted by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (a part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security) on their website at: