Shooter & Hostage Situations

This video is intended to provide guidance to faculty, staff, students, and visitors who may be caught in an active shooting or a hostage situation.

An “active shooter” is a person or persons who appear to be actively killing or attempting to kill people in a single location. These situations have happened in schools, shopping malls, businesses, streets, and other public venues. These situations are dynamic in nature and require immediate action by law enforcement personnel to stop the shooter.

A hostage situation is one in which a person(s) takes control over another person(s), is demanding some type of action and not allowing the person(s) being held to leave. The hostage taker is not actively killing or injuring people. The hostage taker is holding people against their will. Police will respond and attempt to communicate with the hostage taker(s).

Some Guidelines for Responding to Active Shooter

How one responds at an active shooter situation will be determined by the specific circumstances of the encounter. If you find yourself involved in an active shooter situation, try to remain calm and use the following guidelines as a strategy for survival.

Should you find yourself in an active shooter situation, think OUT!

  • FIGURE OUT the situation - what’s going on and where is it happening?
  • GET OUT if you can do so safely. Leave your belongings behind.
  • CALL OUT to NDSP by dialing 911 from a landline or (574) 631-5555 from your cell.
  • HIDE OUT. In some cases, you may not be able to get out safely, so find a spot to hide. Ideally you should find a room with a door that can be locked.
  • KEEP OUT. Keep out the shooter by and locking and barricading the door. If the shooter is nearby, just lock the door and be quiet; silence your cell phone. If you can do so safely, contact NDSP and give as much information as possible. Stay in your safe location until police say you can exit.
  • SPREAD OUT. Do not huddle up with others.
  • TAKE OUT. You might determine there is no other option than to take out the shooter. Consider throwing things, yelling and using improvised weapons. You will need to be more aggressive than you ever thought possible. If you are not alone, work together with others to form a team to take out the shooter.

Nationally, active shooter situations do not occur often on college campuses, but we know all too well that the possibility exists and it is important to know how to respond. When an emergency happens, it's natural for people to panic, and to avoid panicking we have to have some sort of a plan. Use this information and review the video so that you can develop your plan.

What you should expect from responding law enforcement to an active shooter

  • Police are trained to proceed as quickly as possible to the sound of the gunfire; their purpose is to stop the shooter(s).
  • Officers may be in plainclothes, patrol uniforms or SWAT Uniforms armed with long rifles, shotguns and handguns.
  • Do as the officers direct you and keep your hands visible at all times.
  • If possible, tell the officers where the shooter(s) was last seen and a description of the shooter(s).
  • Also be aware that the first responding police officers will not stop to assist injured people. Others will follow to treat the injured. First responding officers are trained to proceed as quickly as possible to the gunfire and to stop the shooter(s).
  • Keep in mind that once you are in a safe location, the entire scene is a crime scene. The police usually will not let anyone leave until the situation is completely under control. Police may ask for your statement of what you heard and observed. Please cooperate with the police.

Some Guidelines for Responding to a Hostage Situation

How one responds in a hostage situation will be determined by the specific circumstances of the encounter. If you find yourself involved in such a situation, try to remain calm. It is generally recommended that you follow directions of the hostage taker.

The police response to this situation is different than an active shooter. The police will not proceed immediately into the situation but will surround the area and attempt to set up negotiations with the hostage taker. A hostage situation could last for hours or days. The ultimate goal is for the hostage taker to release all hostages and peacefully surrender to the police.

If the hostage taker begins to kill or injure people or if the negotiators believe the hostage taker is about to start killing or injuring people, police will respond as they do to an active shooter situation. The police will likely respond immediately to stop the shooter.

Other Information Videos

Shots Fired On Campus; When Lightning Strikes

Stay Safe On Campus