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Active Shooter

Incidents on the Rise

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been more than 600 active shooter incidents in the United States in just 2023 alone. Sadly, the likelihood of being caught in an active shooter situation is rising for most Americans as the incidents increase and start hitting closer to home. With the rise of potential safety threats in virtually any public space, it’s important now more than ever to stay safe and aware of your surroundings wherever you are.  

What’s 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 firearm(s) and have no pattern or method to their selection of victims, which creates an unpredictable and quickly evolving situation that can result in loss of life and injury. Other active shooter attack methods may also include bladed weapons, vehicles, and improvised explosive devices. 

Because active shooter situations are often over within 10 to 15 minutes, before law enforcement arrives on the scene, individuals can take steps to prepare mentally and physically for the possibility of this type of event occurring in order to save lives. 


Be Alert to Signs of Trouble

While people generally do not suddenly "snap," they might gradually exhibit signs of potentially violent behavior. Identifying these behaviors early on often allows for effective management and treatment.

Potential Warning Signs include:

*Note: this list of behaviors is not comprehensive, nor is it intended as a mechanism for diagnosing violent tendencies 

  • Increased use of alcohol and/or illegal drugs. 

  • Unexplained increase in absenteeism

  • Vague physical complaints. 

  • Noticeable decrease in attention to appearance and hygiene. 

  • Depression/withdrawal. 

  • Resistance/overreaction to changes in policy and procedures. 

  • Repeated violations of company policies. 

  • Increased severe mood swings. 

  • Noticeably unstable, emotional responses. 

  • Explosive outbursts of anger or rage without provocation. 

  • Suicidal; comments about “putting things in order”. 

  • Behavior which is suspect of paranoia, (“everybody is against me”). 

  • Increasingly talks of problems at home. 

  • Escalation of domestic problems into the workplace; talk of severe financial problems. 

  • Talk of earlier incidents of violence. 

  • Empathy with individuals committing violence. 

  • Increase in unsolicited comments about firearms, other dangerous weapons and violent crimes. 

In case of an active shooter attack:

  • 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 with an active shooter.

  • Keep your hands visible. 

  • Follow the instructions of any police officers. 

  • Do not attempt to move wounded people. 

  • Call 911 when you are safe. 

When Law Enforcement Arrives

Law enforcement’s purpose is to stop the active shooter as soon as possible.  Officers will proceed directly to the area in which the last shots were heard. 


What to Expect When Officers Arrive

The first officers to arrive at the scene will not stop to help injured persons.  Expect rescue teams comprised of additional officers and emergency medical personnel to follow the initial officers.  These rescue teams will treat and remove any injured persons.  They may also call on able-bodied individuals to help remove the wounded from the premises. 

  • Officers will usually arrive in teams of four (4). 

  • Officers may be wearing regular patrol uniforms, external bulletproof vests, Kevlar helmets, and other tactical equipment. 

  • Officers may be armed with rifles, shotguns, handguns. 

  • Officers may use pepper spray or tear gas to control the situation. 

  • Officers may shout commands and may push individuals to the ground for their safety. 

What to Report to Law Enforcement:

Location of the active shooter. 

Number of shooters, if more than one. 

Physical description of shooter(s). 

Number & type of weapons held by the shooter(s). 

Number of potential victims at the location. 

Reacting to Help

​Once you have reached a safe location or an assembly point, you will likely be held in that area by law enforcement until the situation is under control, and all witnesses have been identified and questioned. Do not leave until law enforcement authorities have instructed you to do so. 

  • Remain calm & follow officers’ instructions. 

  • Put down any items you may be holding (i.e., bags, jackets) 

  • Immediately raise hands & spread fingers. 

  • Keep hands visible at all times. 

  • Avoid making quick movements toward officers' such as holding on to them for safety. 

  • Avoid pointing, screaming and/or yelling. 

  • Do not stop to ask officers for help or directions when evacuating, proceed in the direction from which officers are entering the premises. 

After an Incident Occurs at Work

After the active shooter has been incapacitated and is no longer a threat, human resources and/or management should engage in post-event assessments and activities, including:  

  • An accounting of all individuals at a designated assembly point to determine who, if anyone, is missing and potentially injured. 

  • Determining a method for notifying families of individuals affected by the active shooter. 

  • Assessing the psychological state of individuals at the scene and referring them to health care specialists accordingly.  

  • Identifying and filling any critical personnel positions or operational gaps left in the organization as a result of the active shooter incident. 

Seeking Help

The psychological impacts of an active shooter incident, or other violent situations, are different for each individual. Recovery is a continuous process that occurs over short- and long-term incremental phases. If you or a loved one has been a victim or a witness in an active shooting event, please consider these resources below:  

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