Active Shooter | Webster University

Active Shooter

An active shooter or hostile intruder incident can occur under a variety of circumstances, so no guidelines can cover specific actions to take in every situation. Even so, being familiar with these guidelines can help you to plan your own survival strategy for a variety of incidents.

Webster University Department of Public Safety has adopted the Department of Homeland Security's recommended response to an active shooter, "Run, Hide, Fight."

RUN: if there is an acceptable escape path, attempt to evacuate the premises.

HIDE: if evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide where the shooter is less likely to find you. Lock office doors and barricade entrances if possible.

FIGHT: As a last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger, attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate the shooter. Locate potential defensive weapons in your work space, scissors, fire extinguishers, staplers, etc.

For additional information regarding the "Run, Hide, Fight" response, please view the Department of Homeland Security's video "Options for Consideration" active shooter training video.

General Procedures

An active shooter is a person who is using a firearm with the intent to injure or kill others in a populated area. The Department of Public Safety will respond to the area to assist with any immediate medical needs; assist in evacuation procedures; assist in containment and be the eyes and ears for responding law enforcement personnel. Public Safety may implement a lockdown or lockout of the campus. A campus lockdown is a form of "sheltering in place" wherein personnel on campus should proceed to an area that can be locked or the door of an office space can be barricaded. Lights should be turned off and window blinds drawn and cell phones should be silenced. A campus lockout is when exterior doors of buildings are locked and persons are prohibited from entering or exiting, if doing so will expose them to danger. In either case, Public Safety will give an "all-clear" by way of an IP phone broadcast only after it is determined that the campus is safe.

Be familiar with the 4 A's of an active shooter response:

Accept that the emergency is occurring.
Assess what you can do.
Act by Run, Hide, Fight
Alert law enforcement


Law Enforcement personnel will deploy to the area of and engage the shooter. Members of the University community (students, faculty and staff) who encounter an active shooter or hostile intruder should adhere to the following guidelines:

An Active Shooter Outside Your Building

Do not confront or try to apprehend the shooter. Assess the situation and when safe to do so, contact Public Safety to remotely initiate a building lockout. Relay your observations to the dispatcher. Note the shooter's location and clothing description and direction of travel.

If it is determined the shooter is outside your building, faculty and staff should alert others not to exit the building and immediately lock/barricade the students and themselves in their classroom. This is a form of shelter in place. If possible cover any windows or openings that have a direct line of sight into the hallway. Barricade the doors with desk, tables, etc.

If not in a room at the time, proceed to a room that can be locked. On your way to the room, alert as many people as possible to do the same.

Lock all doors and windows; close all blinds or curtains and turn off the lights. Stay away from the windows. Do not try to “see what's happening."

Do not sound the fire alarm. A fire alarm would signal the occupants to evacuate the building and thus place them in potential harm as they attempt to exit.

Call Public Safety from a cell phone and be prepared to advise the dispatcher with the following information:

  • Your location
  • Your name
  • Number of people in the room with you
  • Description and location of the shooter

Keep everyone together.

Remain in the room until advised by law enforcement personnel to exit the building. Do not respond to voice commands or fire alarms.

Active Shooter Inside Your Building

Remember to Run, Hide, Fight...

Run in the opposite direction of the threat if it is safe to do so.

If you do not feel that you can run from the situation, determine if the room you are in or near can be locked. If so, follow the procedures as indicated above.

If the room can not be locked, you have two options:

  • Locate the nearest exit and determine whether or not you can exit the building in safety.
  • If you cannot exit the building safely, lock or barricade the doors of the room you are in with desk, tables, etc. If communication is available, immediately call the Department of Public Safety at 968- 6911. Never assume that someone else has called Public Safety.
  • If you can safely leave the building, do so by following the instructions listed below under “Exiting a building safely.”

As a LAST resort fight the intruder by any means possible.

Active Shooter Enters Your Office or Classroom Space

Try to remain calm and if at all possible call 911, .

If you are unable to speak, leave the phone line open so that dispatchers can hear what is taking place.

If you cannot escape or hide, and only as a last resort, confront and attempt to incapacitate the shooter.  Use anything available as a weapon against the shooter; lap tops, fire extinguishers, scissors, staplers, etc.

Active Shooter Catches You in the Open

If for some reason you are caught in an open area such as a hallway or lounge, etc., you must decide what you are going to do.

  • Quickly assess the situation and determine if you can run to safety.  If you decide to run, do not run in a straight line.  Attempt to keep objects such as desks, cabinets, fixtures, etc. between you and the shooter.  Once outside the building, use trees, vehicles and other objects as cover.  When you are out of immediate danger, summon help and warn others any way possible.
  • You can try to hide, but make sure it is a well-hidden space or you may be found as the intruder moves through the building or area looking for victims. Take into consideration the area in which you are hiding. Will I be found here? Is this really a good spot to remain hidden?
  • Your last option if you are caught in an open area in a building may be to fight back. Depending on your situation, this could be your last option.

Exiting Building Safely

  1. Have a route planned before attempting to leave
  2. Do not attempt to carry anything with you while fleeing
  3. Move quickly and keep your hands visible as you exit the building
  4. Do not attempt to treat or remove injured people but note their locations so that you may provide that information to emergency responders.
  5. Proceed to a safe location, but do not leave campus. Keep in mind that the entire area is still a crime scene and officers will need to obtain information from you before you leave. Remain at whatever assembly area is designated until you are released.
  6. At all times, comply with commands of law enforcement officers.

What to Expect From Responding Officers

Police officers responding to an active shooter are trained to engage and eliminate the threat.  They may wear police uniforms or they may have special tactical gear that will be clearly identified as POLICE. Responding officers are trained to immediately proceed to the area where the shooting is occurring. If people are injured, the initial responding officers will not stop to assist you as they are trained to first engage the shooter. Additional officers and/or tactical medics will follow to provide medical assistance, once the threat has been eliminated. Remain calm and comply with all commands from law enforcement officers.