Loyola University Maryland

Emergency Preparedness

Active Shooter

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Profile 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 and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims.

These situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly, requiring an immediate police response to stop the shooting and mitigate harm to victims. Police departments all across the nation have been refining procedures and training for a response to an “Active Shooter” scenario.  What has significantly changed is the intent of the perpetrator.  Recent events indicate the intent is to kill or injure as many community members as they can and then take their own lives.

Active shooter events typically last between 3 and 7 minutes. Law enforcement response can take between 3 to 5 minutes. You need to survive until law enforcement arrives and ends the event.

Your safety starts with personal planning and diligence. It is unwise to think “it can’t happen here.”

Be aware of your surroundings and learn what to do in an emergency situation. We must prepare ourselves in the event we have an active shooter or other significant threat to life on our campus. If we should have an Active Shooter on our campus your chances of survival increase dramatically if you know what to do. 

If you find yourself in an active shooter scenario, try to remain calm and use these guidelines to plan a strategy for survival. You can run, you can hide or if your life is immediate danger you can fight.  Listed below are some guidelines to consider regarding these options and at the bottom of the page is a short video you can view as well.

Run:  

  • Your #1 option is to run. If it is safe to get out of the building, do so. 
  • You need to react quickly when hearing gunshots by looking, listening and planning.
    • Look for a clear path to the exit.
    • Look for the shooter. If you can you see the shooter, get out of sight and hide or barricade yourself in a room, closet, office. Something that can be locked or secured.
    • Look to see if people are running and which direction are they running from? Move in that direction also.
    • Listen for gunshots and move away from those sounds.
    • Listen for shouts or screams and move away from those sounds.
    • Listen for instructions from any responding police and follow their instructions. 
    • Plan your escape route and what secondary exit to use if the first exit you have in mind is blocked.
    • Plan where you’ll hide if you cannot vacate the building.
  • Remember if it is safe to exit the building, evacuate.
  • When vacating a building try not to run in large groups representing a large mass target, but exit by single file which represents smaller targets.
  • Before running into a hallway, you need to make sure it is safe to exit the room. When peering out of a classroom or office, get down on your hands and knees and peer out from a low position. Peering out from a kneeling position exposes less of your body and is also below where the shooter would expect you to be looking from.
  • If you decide to vacate, leave whether others follow or not.
  • Leave your stuff behind.
  • Warn others on your way out.
  • If you encounter law enforcement, remember they are not there to assist you at that time. They need to get to the shooter and end the event.
  • Always show your hands when encountering any law enforcement. Follow all instructions.
  • When vacating a building you need to consider cover and concealment. Cover has ballistic stopping power (building, engine block, cement walls, etc.) Concealment will simply hide you from sight. Both are good but cover is best.  
  • Bullets fired from a gun will travel in a straight line, so try to run zig-zag or on angles especially when running in open spaces.
  • Remain cautious until you are sure you are safe. 
  • Once you are sure it is safe then call 911 or 5911 (on campus) 
  • Running or putting distance between you and the active shooter is your best option. 

Hide:

  • If you cannot safety evacuate the building, you must hide and barricade yourself in a classroom, office, closet or uncommon area. 
  • Remember you have a tactical advantage because of your familiarity with the building.
  • If you must hide, get out of sight fast.
  • Allow others to hide with you if needed.
  • Once inside an office or other hiding place, secure and barricade the room. 
  • Use the room’s locks, door wedges on the inside, bookcases, tables, desk, filing cabinets or anything to crest a barricade.  Turn out the lights and silence electronics.
  • Remember a barricade will create time. You need time to allow for a law enforcement response. 
  • Once you've created a barricade hide behind something with ballistic stopping power in case a stray bullet comes through a window or drywall.
  • Remember, if you encounter law enforcement they are not there to help you but rather to try and neutralize the situation. 
  • Expect to be treated like a suspect. You may have weapons pointed at you, yelled at, patted down, handcuffed and questioned. 
  • Law enforcement doesn't know who the shooter is at this point and they will treat everyone as a suspect. 
  • Law enforcement will not attempt to break down barricades and they can be identified by uniforms and by shouting commands.

Fight:  

You should only consider fighting only if your life is in imminent danger and you have no other options. 

  • Only as a last resort, and if you are in immediate danger, should you consider strategies to fight or disarm a shooter.
  • If you cannot hide and secure where you are hiding, then hiding under a desk is not an option. Hiding in this scenario only creates a stationary target.   
  • In this instance you need to begin planning a defense of the room you are hiding within.
  • If you are with others you’ll need to plan and work together as a team to disarm the shooter.
  • You’ll need to act aggressively to distract the shooter and to allow your counter-attack to begin.
  • A counter attack should take place at the room’s doorway for 2 reasons. Remember the doorway is the shooters one blind spot as they enter the room. Also the door’s frame will hinder the shooter’s range of motion.
  • Use improvised weapons during the counter attack such as books, water bottles, full backpacks to distract the shooter in order to disarm them.
  • If you have something which could hinder the shooters vision, utilize it. A jacket thrown over the shooters head or a powdery substance can be thrown to impede vision. 
  • Other considerations to distract the shooter’s attention include trip hazards and darkness.
  • Recommended counterattack methods to disarm the shooter include a two person team hidden at the entrance door. The 1st counter attacker should grab the shooter’s gun while the 2nd counter attacker takes out the shooter’s legs by pushing behind the knee.
  • Counter attacks can be attempted by one, two or more people.
  • After you have disarmed the shooter, remember to control their hands in case they have secondary weapons. 
  • A well planned counter attack coupled by darkness, trip hazards and flying distractions at the room’s doorway is a high percentage strategy to disarm an armed shooter.

Remember. You can never give up if your life is in imminent danger.

What to expect from responding police officers:

Police officers responding to an active shooter are trained in” rapid deployment” procedures and proceed immediately to the area in which shots were last heard; their purpose is to stop the shooting as quickly as possible.

  • Officers usually respond in teams of four
  • Officers may be armed with rifles, shotguns and handguns 
  • Officers may aim their weapons at you
  • Officers may use pepper spray or tear gas to control the situation 
  • Officers may be wearing regular uniforms, external bulletproof vests, Kevlar helmets and other tactical equipment 
  • Officers may shout commands and push individuals to the ground for safety
  • Remain calm and follow officers instructions 
  • Put down any items in your hands (i.e. bags, jackets, backpacks, cell phones, etc.)
  • Keep your hands visible at all times and spread your fingers 
  • Avoid making quick movements towards officers or grabbing a hold of them 
  • Avoid pointing, screaming and/or yelling at officers 
  • Do not stop to ask officers questions when evacuating, proceed in the direction from which officers are entering premises 
  • Information you may need to provide responding officers:
    • Location of the active shooter 
    • Number of shooters, if more than one shooter is involved 
    • Physical description of shooter (s) 
    • Number of potential victims at the location 
    • First arriving officers will not stop to help injured persons. Expect rescue teams to follow  
    • You may be asked (if able-bodied) to assist evacuate wounded 
    • Once you reach a safe location or staging area, you will likely be held at that area until law enforcement has the situation under control and all witnesses have been interviewed regarding what you may have witnessed 
    • Do not leave until instructed to do so

Acknowledgement to the City of Houston Mayor's Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security for allowing us to use this video