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Active Shooter

An active shooter is a person or persons who appears to be actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area. An active shooter will many times use a firearm but can also use any weapon including explosives. Please use the video resources and strategy on this page to further educate yourself on how to respond in the unlikely event you are faced with just such an emergency.


 Homeland Security Banner  UW-Madison Police Car
Watch a video from Homeland Security
Watch a video from UW-Madison Police Department

Note: A valid UWEC user name and password may be required to view this video

Click Here to download or print an active shooter reference poster

Recognizing signs of potential workplace violence

An active shooter may be a current or former employee. Aert your human resources department if you believe an employee exhibits potentially violent behavior. Indicators of potentially violent behavior may include one or more of the following:

  • Increased use of alcohol and/or illegal drugs
  • Unexplained increase in absenteeism, and/or vague physical complaints
  • Depression/Withdrawal
  • Increased severe mood swings, and noticeably unstable or emotional responses
  • Increasingly talks of problems at home
  • Increase in unsolicited comments about violence, firearms, and other dangerous weapons and violent crimes

Active Shooter Strategy: How to Respond

    • Have an escape route and plan in mind
    • Leave your belongings behind
    • Keep your hands visible
    • Hide in an area out of the active shooter’s view
    • Block entry to your hiding place and lock the doors
    • As a last resort and only when your life is in imminent danger
    • Attempt to incapacitate the active shooter
    • Act with physical aggression and throw items at the active shooter

When law enforcement arrives on the scene

  • Remain calm, and follow officers’ instructions
  • Immediately raise hands and spread fingers
  • Keep hands visible at all times
  • Avoid making quick movements toward officers such as attempting to hold on to them for safety
  • Avoid pointing, screaming and/or yelling
  • Do not stop to ask officers for help or direction when evacuating, just proceed in the direction from which officers are entering the premises

Information you should provide to law enforcement or 911 operator

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