An active shooter is defined by the U. S. Department of Homeland Security as an individual who is actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill others in a confined and populated area. Active shooters employ the use of firearms, improvised explosive devices (IED), and/or other weapons to cause additional harm. Typically there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims.
These situations are dynamic and evolve rapidly, demanding immediate deployment of law enforcement resources to stop the shooting and mitigate harm to innocent victims.
Hostage or barricaded subject situations often take place over a longer period of time and usually there is no ongoing injury or loss of life. These situations are often managed through the deployment of specialized units as time allows. Both hostage and barricaded subject situations can rapidly shift to active shooter situations and vice versa.
What should you do in an active shooter situation?
- RUN: If a safe path is available, run. Always try and escape or evacuate even if others insist on staying. Encourage others to leave with you but don't let the indecision of others slow down your own effort to escape. Once you are out of the line of fire, try to prevent others from walking into the danger zone and call 9-1-1.
- HIDE: If you can't get out safely, find a place to hide. When hiding, turn out lights, remember to lock the door(s), and silence your ringer and vibration mode on your cell phone.
- FIGHT: As a last resort, working together or alone, act with aggression and use improvised weapons to disarm the shooter. Commit to taking the shooter down.
Indiana University's Public Safety & IU Police Department has a number of online resources available for students, faculty, and staff including videos, blogs, and links to important information about this topic. Explore the "Responding to an Active Shooter" webpage.