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An active shooter is an individual actively engaged in attempted mass murder.

  • Victims are selected at random.
  • Event is unpredictable and evolves quickly.
  • Those in the vicinity must make a rapid decision based on the situation at hand.
  • Knowing what to do can save lives.

When an active shooter is in your vicinity you have three options: Avoid-Deny-Defend®.


Trust your instincts and don’t delay. Get away as quickly as possible.

  • Have an escape route and plan in mind.
  • Leave your belongings behind.
  • Evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow.
  • Help others escape, if possible.
  • Do not attempt to move the wounded.
  • Prevent others from entering an area where the active shooter may be.
  • Keep your hands visible.


If you can’t flee, obstruct or deny the active shooter access to your area.

  • Relocate if necessary.
  • Remain out of the shooter’s view. Lock door or block entry to your area.
  • Silence your cell phone (including vibrate mode) and remain quiet. Be prepared to defend yourself if needed.


If all else fails...

  • Fight as a last resort and only when your life is in imminent danger.
  • If others are with you, work together as a group.
  • Attempt to incapacitate the shooter.
  • Stand near the door, not in the middle of the room.
  • Act as physically aggressive as possible.
  • Improvise weapons or throw items at the active shooter.
  • Commit to your actions. Your life depends on it.

Call the University Police at 617-627-6911 as soon as it is safe to do so.

Information to Provide to Law Enforcement

  • Location of the active shooter.
  • Number of shooters.
  • Physical description of shooters.
  • Number and type of weapons held by the shooters.
  • Number of potential victims at location.

How to Respond When Law Enforcement Arrives on the Scene

  • Remain calm and follow instructions.
  • Drop items in your hands (e.g., bags, jackets).
  • Raise hands and spread fingers.
  • Keep hands visible at all times.
  • Avoid quick movements toward officers, such as holding on to them for safety.
  • Avoid pointing, screaming or yelling.
  • Do not ask questions when evacuating.

The first officers to arrive on scene will not stop to help the injured. Expect rescue teams to follow initial officers. These rescue teams will treat and remove the injured.

Once you have reached a safe location, you likely will be held in that area by law enforcement until the situation is under control and all witnesses have been identified and questioned. Do not leave the area until law enforcement authorities have instructed you to do so.

Violence Prevention

Recognizing Violent or Threatening Behavior

Violent behavior includes, but is not limited to:

  • Any physical assault, with or without weapons.
  • Behavior that a reasonable person would interpret as being potentially violent, such as throwing things, pounding on a desk or door, or destroying property.
  • Specific threats to inflict harm, such as a threat to shoot a named individual.
  • Use of any object to intimidate and/or attack another person.

Threatening behavior includes, but is not limited to:

  • Physical actions short of actual physical contact and/or injury, such as moving closer aggressively, waving arms or fists, or yelling in an aggressive or threatening manner.
  • General oral or written threats (in any medium, including email and social media) to people or property, such as, “You better watch your back” or “I’ll get you” or “I’ll ruin your car.”
  • Threats made in a “joking” manner.
  • Stalking behavior.
  • Implicit threats, such as, “You’ll be sorry” or “This isn’t over yet.”

Reporting Violent or Threatening Behavior

If you are aware of a worrisome situation like the ones listed above, please share what you know with the Tufts Threat Assessment and Management (TTAM) team at

In an emergency:

  • Get to a safe place.
  • If you are on campus, call University Police at 617-627-6911.
  • Tell police your location, the phone number you’re calling from, the nature of the emergency, and who is involved.
  • Safely notify others who might be in danger

In a non-emergency:

  • Call the University Police using the non-emergency numbers on the back cover of this guide.
    Email the TTAM team at
    Make a report online via EthicsPoint (can be made anonymously).

Avoid-Deny-Defend® is a registered trademark of the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT™) Center at Texas State University and is used with permission.