Active Assailant

What is an active assailant situation?

An active assailant situation involves an individual in which their goal is to attempt to fatally wound as many people as possible using a firearm.

Where do active assailant situations typically occur?

According to the FBI, about 70% of active assailant situations occur in schools and places of business. However, they can occur anywhere where there is a large population of people creating a potential target for the assailant.

How frequent or common are active assailant situations?

From 2000 to 2008 there were approximately 5 active assailant situations on average in that time period. However, from 2009 to 2013 active assailant events in the United States have increased to about 16 shootings on average per year.

Is there a profile to look out for in an active assailant?

There is no specific profile for an active assailant as it could be a person from any background, gender, age, race, and ethnicity. However, it is important to note the warning signs in a person which include the following:

  • Person’s demeanor or typical behavior drastically changes
  • Threats made toward target through a social forum (Ex: Social media)
  • Someone who is removed or withdrawn from everyday life
  • Disturbing revelations revealed in work, letters, or email

What should I do if I am concerned about a person’s behavior?

If you are concerned about a student’s behavior and their potential to hurt themselves or others, please call or email the BAT Team on campus. The BAT Team connects students to resources to help them through their situation. You can contact the BAT Team by calling (940)-898-3615 or making an online referral at the TWU Student Life website.

If you are concerned about an employee’s behavior and their potential to hurt themselves or others, please call or email that individual’s supervisor. The supervisor will speak with the employee and provide them information on the Employee Assistance Program and its resources.

If you feel that you are in immediate harm due to a person’s actions or behavior, call the TWU Department of Public Safety immediately at

  • Denton: 940-898-2911
  • Dallas: 214-689-6666
  • Houston: 713-794-2222

 What should I do if an active assailant situation occurs where I am?

If you are caught in an active assailant situation you need to evaluate the situation and either Run, Hide, or Fight.

Run and get out of the building. This is the preferable option if you have a quick and clear path to an exit and the assailant is not nearby. Once you are outdoors or out of the area, find a safe place and call TWU Department of Public Safety if on campus and 911 if you are off campus. Once you call the Police, provide the specific location of the shooting and an accurate description of the shooter.

Hide in an area where the door can be locked or barricaded if an exit is not readily available and the assailant is in close proximity. Once you find a place to hide, turn out the lights and be as quiet as possible to not bring attention to your presence in the room. Also, begin planning with other people in the room on what you will do if the shooter enters your hiding spot. There will be two types of roles if the shooter enters the room:

  • Distractors: These individuals will be scattered throughout the room and will throw items toward the assailants head upon entering the room causing them hesitation in committing their act of violence.
  • Attackers: These individuals will be positioned near the entry point with an item to be used as a weapon to incapacitate the shooter as they enter (Ex: Chair). 

Fight the assailant if they enter the spot you are hiding. This is a 100% commitment; therefore, if this action is taken it has to be a full effort by you and those you are with.

What should I do if I am on campus; however, not in the building with the assailant?

If you are on campus and not in the building with the assailant, you should remain in the building and find a hiding place where you can lock and barricade the door. You will also turn out the lights and remain silent. Do not leave the building and hiding spot until you receive official work from campus authorities (Ex: Receive a Pioneer Alert) that the threat has been removed and it is safe to exit the building.

What should I do if I encounter police during this situation?

Do not run up to police if they enter an area where you are during an active assailant situation. Make sure to show and spread your hands and listen to their instructions. Remember, they have no way of knowing who is a threat; therefore, you must not present a threat to them during this situation. Also, their first priority is to neutralize the threat; therefore, they will likely be unable to provide immediate medical attention. If safe to do so, please provide basic first aid to those who are injured.

University of Alberta’s Active Shooter Video

Page last updated 1:48 PM, April 18, 2017