Active Violence, Active Shooter & Hostage Situations

This video is intended to provide guidance to students, faculty, staff, and visitors who may be caught in an active violence or active shooter situation.

Other Information Videos

Shots Fired On Campus; When Lightning Strikes

Stay Safe On Campus

Faculty Active Violence Video

According to the FBI, an active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area. These situations have happened in schools, shopping malls, businesses, streets, and other public venues. These situations are dynamic in nature and require immediate action by law enforcement personnel to stop the shooter.

A hostage situation is one in which a person(s) takes control over another person(s), is demanding some type of action and not allowing the person(s) being held to leave. The hostage taker is not actively killing or injuring people. The hostage taker is holding people against their will. Police will respond and attempt to communicate with the hostage taker(s).

Some Guidelines for Responding to Active Shooter

How one responds at an active shooter situation will be determined by the specific circumstances of the encounter. If you find yourself involved in an active shooter situation, try to remain calm and use the following guidelines as a strategy for survival.

If you ever find yourself in an active violence/active shooter situation, the simplest thing to remember is Run, Hide, Fight!

  • Run-Get away from the threat, leave your belongings behind.  Evacuate immediately, save yourself, and help others if possible. Call 911 when safe.​​
  • Hide-If evacuation is not possible, find a place where the active shooter is less likely to find you. If you are in a building, find a room where you can lock and barricade yourself inside using any equipment or furniture items. Silence your cell phone and remain quiet.  Call 911 to alert authorities to the situation and possibly to the active shooter's location. 
    • Think Cover vs. Concealment-Concealment may hide you but cannot stop a bullet, such as curtains.  Cover will hide you and may stop a bullet, such as concrete and steel.
  • Fight-As a last resort and only if your life is in immediate danger, should you attempt to disrupt or incapacitate the active shooter by acting as aggressively as you can.  Use any items as a makeshift weapons.  If you are with others, work together to stop the threat.  Whatever you do, commit to your actions.  

Nationally, active shooter situations do not occur often on college campuses, but we know all too well that the possibility exists and it is important to know how to respond. When an emergency happens, it's natural for people to panic, and to avoid panicking we have to have some sort of a plan. Use this information and review the video so that you can develop your plan.

What you should expect from responding law enforcement to an active shooter

  • Police are trained to proceed as quickly as possible to the sound of the gunfire; their purpose is to stop the shooter(s).
  • Officers may be in plainclothes, patrol uniforms or SWAT Uniforms armed with long rifles, shotguns and handguns.
  • Do as the officers direct you and keep your hands visible at all times.
  • If possible, tell the officers where the shooter(s) was last seen and a description of the shooter(s).
  • Also be aware that the first responding police officers will not stop to assist injured people. Others will follow to treat the injured. First responding officers are trained to proceed as quickly as possible to the gunfire and to stop the shooter(s).
  • Keep in mind that once you are in a safe location, the entire scene is a crime scene. The police usually will not let anyone leave until the situation is completely under control. Police may ask for your statement of what you heard and observed. Please cooperate with the police.

Some Guidelines for Responding to a Hostage Situation

How one responds in a hostage situation will be determined by the specific circumstances of the encounter. If you find yourself involved in such a situation, try to remain calm. It is generally recommended that you follow directions of the hostage taker.

The police response to this situation is different than an active shooter. The police will not proceed immediately into the situation but will surround the area and attempt to set up negotiations with the hostage taker. A hostage situation could last for hours or days. The ultimate goal is for the hostage taker to release all hostages and peacefully surrender to the police.

If the hostage taker begins to kill or injure people or if the negotiators believe the hostage taker is about to start killing or injuring people, police will respond as they do to an active shooter situation. The police will likely respond immediately to stop the shooter.