The National Tactical Officers Association defines an active shooter as one or more subjects who participate in a random or systematic shooting spree, demonstrating their intent to continuously harm others. An active shooter’s overriding objective appears to be that of mass murder, rather than criminal conduct such as robbery, kidnapping, etc. The definition also can also include any assault with a deadly weapon causing a mass homicide.


  • If you are in a classroom, room, or office, STAY THERE, and secure the door.
  • If the door has a lock use it. If the door opens in, barricade it closed with heavy furniture or any items located in the area. You may also use something to wedge under the door to help barricade it.
  • If the door opens out, tie a belt or other items to the door and then to a heavy piece of furniture that can not be pulled though the doorway. This will help to keep the door from being opened from the hallway. Again cover the door with furniture or other items in the area.
  • If the door has a window, cover it if you can.
  • Depending on the gunman’s location, consideration may also be made to exit through ground floor window openings. Have someone watch as you get as many people out of the windows as calmly and as quietly as possible.
  • If the windows don’t open, or you can’t break them, or you are not on a ground floor, get out of sight from the door, stay away from windows, take cover behind or under furniture, stay low, keep quiet, and act as if no one is in the room. Silence your cell phone.
  • Do not answer the door.
  • Stay calm.

Exiting the Building

  • If it is possible to exit the building safely, move away from the immediate path of danger.
  • Do not run in a straight line (zigzag).
  • Notify anyone you may encounter to exit the building immediately.
  • Do not signal an evacuation by pulling the fire alarm; this may cause those that are in secure places to exit into the view of the gunmen.

After Exiting the Building or in Open Areas

  • Try to keep as many large objects such as parked vehicles, large trees, brick walls, retaining walls, and any object which may stop firearm ammunition penetration, between you and the shooter as you run.
  • Run to a police officers, keeping your hands in the air or on you head, and follow the orders that the police give you.
  • Don’t leave the area entirely; you may have information that responding police officers will need. Once in a safe place stay put.

In Hallways, Lounge Areas, or Corridors

  • If you are in a hallway, get in a room that is not already secured and secure it.
  • Unless you are very close to an exit, don’t run through a long hall to get to one, you may encounter the gunman or hostage taker.
  • If you are trapped in these areas, do your best to hide.

In Large Rooms or Auditoriums

  • If in a gym or theater area and the gunman or hostage taker(s) are not present, move to and out the external exits.
  • If you are trapped in these areas, do your best to hide.

Trapped With the Gunman

  • If you are trapped with the gunman, don’t do anything to provoke him/her. If there is no shooting, do what the gunman says and don’t move suddenly. Only you can draw the line on what you will or will not do to preserve your life or the lives of others.
  • If you are in an area where there are victims, consider playing dead.
  • If the gunman starts shooting people, you need to make a choice. At this point, it is your choice of whether to stay still, and hope they do not shoot you, run for an exit while zigzagging, or attack the shooter. Attacking the shooter is very dangerous, but certainly no more so than doing nothing and dying in place. A moving target is much harder to hit than a stationary one and the last thing that the shooter will expect is to be attacked by an unarmed person. Any option chosen may still result in a negative consequence.
  • If fighting is your only option, fight in a group (swarm) and use any available items to attack or secure the shooter. Again this is NOT A RECOMMENDATION to attack the shooter but rather a choice to fight when there is only one other option.
  • If the shooter leaves the area, attempt to lock or barricade the door, or proceed to a safe location.

 Notifying the Police

  • Call the Valparaiso University Police Department at 911 or (219).464.5430 as soon as it is safe to do so. Stay calm and give the dispatcher as much information about the shooter(s), victim(s), and location(s) as you possibly can.

 Individuals on campus but away from the active shooter building or location

  • Take protective cover within your shelter-in-place location, staying away from windows and doors until notified otherwise.
  • Seek a location where you can secure the door by locking and/or barricading with furniture.

Valparaiso University Police are trained and equipped to respond to an incident of this nature. Obey all orders of the police. This may involve being handcuffed or told to put your hands in the air as you exit the building. This is done for your safety, the safety of others, and the safety of the police. If you have locked yourself in a safe area, wait for the police department or a campus administrator to give an all-clear directive before leaving the area.

These safety tips and guidelines are not all inclusive. No two emergency incidents are the same. The incident itself will dictate your choices to make yourself safe. Periodic reminders and training when feasible can increase your chances of surviving an active shooter incident.


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