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What is an Active Shooter?

An active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people, most often in populated areas. In most cases, active shooters use firearms and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims. In some cases, active shooters use improvised explosive devices to create additional victims and to impede first responders.

Active Shooter Facts

  • Fairchild AFB, Former Airman killed four and wounded 23 with a semi-automatic rifle.
  • Eglin AFB: Estranged husband confronts hospital staff with hunting rifle at spouse's work center.
  • McGuire AFB: Mentally unstable retiree kills one.
  • Moody AFB: NCO fires at wife's alleged boyfriend with handgun.
  • Fort Bragg, NCO killed one and wounded 18 with semi-automatic rifle.
  • Fort Dix, six homegrown "radical Islamist" planned to storm base with automatic rifles.
  • Fort Hood, Active Duty Major killed 14 and wounded 43 with pistol.
  • Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Headquarters: Gunman killed 12 and wounded 3 with 12 gauge shotgun.

Know the Terms

Lockdown - An announcement used on Air Force installations as a security measure to confine and restrict movement. All individuals, including military uniformed services, federal employees, contractors, dependents, or other people on an installation as a guest are required to restrict their movement when lockdown is declared. During lockdown, no person may enter or exit another area until the all clear is broadcasted; unless movement is required to escape from a dangerous place or situation.


Actions to Consider


  • Assemble an emergency supply kit for your vehicle and workplace.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and any possible dangers.
  • Determine if your community has a warning system.
  • Take note of the two nearest exits in any facility you visit.
  • Know the evacuation plan for your workplace.
  • Leave an area if you feel uncomfortable or if something does not seem right.
  • Develop a family communications plan and ensure all family members know how to use it if you were to become separated.


  • How you respond to an active shooter will be determined by the specific circumstances of the encounter. If you find yourself involved in an active shooter situation, remain calm, quickly determine the most reasonable way to protect your own life, and use these guidelines to help you survive.

Outside the Immediate Incident Area

  • Stay away from the incident area; there may be unknown dangers at or near the scene.
  • Listen to local radio, television stations, and/or the installation's warning and notification system for the latest information.
  • If announced, execute lockdown procedures at your location.
  • Do not allow individuals to enter or exit the area during lockdown until the all clear is announced. Movement within the area (e.g. inside a facility) is permitted.
  • Use phone services sparingly so they remain open for emergency responders.

Inside the Immediate Incident Area Escape

  • If an escape route is accessible, evacuate the immediate area.
  • Leave your belongings behind.
  • Help others evacuate, if possible.
  • Evacuate even if others will not agree to follow you.
  • Call 911 (or equivalent) when you are safe. Stay on the phone until the operator ends the call. Once evacuated, prevent others from entering the area.
  • Follow any law enforcement instructions.
  • If in view of or approaching law enforcement personnel, keep your hands visible.
  • Do not attempt to move wounded individuals.


  • If evacuation is not possible, find a place to create a barricade between you and the active shooter.
  • Your barricade location should be where you are less likely to be found by the active shooter, provide you protection, and not restrict your options for movement.
  • If possible, lock the door and/or block the door with heavy furniture. Turn off any lights and cover windows.
  • Remain quiet and silence any devices (e.g. a cell phone) that may give away your location.
  • If safe to do so, call 911 (or equivalent to alert law enforcement. Stay on the phone until the operator ends the call.

Fight - Take Action Against the Shooter

  • As a last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger, attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate the shooter.
  • Personnel should use whatever means possible to overpower the subject to save further lives.
  • Use the minimum force necessary to subdue the shooter, however, deadly force is authorized when an individual reasonably believes they or others in the area are in immediate danger of death or serious bodily harm.

Information to Provide to Law Enforcement or 911 (or equivalent)

  • Number of active shooters, if more than one.
  • Location of the shooter(s).
  • Physical description of shooter(s).
  • Time you observed the shooter(s).
  • Number and type of weapons held by the shooter(s).
  • Number of potential victims at the location.

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 and will not stop to help injured persons until the shooter is neutralized.
  • Remain calm and follow instructions.
  • Place any items in your hands on the ground.
  • Immediately raise your hands and spread your fingers.
  • Keep hands visible at all times.
  • Do not impede law enforcement officers’ movements, such as holding on to them for safety.
  • Provide any information that may assist them in countering the threat.
  • Avoid pointing, screaming, and/or yelling.
  • Do not stop to ask officers for help or directions when evacuating, just proceed in the direction they instruct you to go.
  • Move quickly to the assembly point.
  • Expect to stay at the assembly point until the situation is under control.
  • Know that you might be interviewed bylaw enforcement.
  • Do not leave the assembly point until instructed by law enforcement.


  • Stay away from the incident area.
  • Listen to local radio, television stations, and/or the installation's warning and notification system for the latest information.
  • Notify your friends and/or family of your condition.
  • Use phone services sparingly so they remain open for emergency responders.
  • Know and recognize the signs of incident related stress. Seek assistance as needed.

Did You Know...

The first law enforcement officers to arrive to 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 upon able-bodied individuals to assist in removing the wounded from the premises.

Contact your local or Installation's Office of Emergency Management for more information.