School shootings are intense and frightening, and they often occur without intended targets, so it is difficult to know how to respond. We are here to help, and the first step is to be prepared. Use these tips to be aware of what you should do if there is an active shooter on or near campus.
- If you are in class or on campus, and you think you hear gunshots or other weapons nearby, either GET OUT or HIDE OUT.
- If a shooter is close, it might be dangerous to evacuate, so it’s best to find a hiding place—if you are in an office or classroom, stay there and secure the door. If you are in a hallway, get into a room and lock, even block, the door. Try to find a place in the room that keeps you out of sight. Also, heavy furniture or walls might help protect you from bullets, so these are best to hide behind—as long as you’re not trapped. If you have someone else with you, it’s tempting to hide with that person, but it’s best to make a plan together and then separate to different areas of the room.
- As soon as possible, call 911—even if you are afraid to speak, you can leave the line open, and operators will
have the chance to hear the events or locate the call.
- If you can speak safely to the operator, here’s what to say:
- The building, room number, or area of the active shooter, and whether there are multiple shooters.
- Did you see what he or she looks like or what kind of weapon was used? Try to describe the person and weapon.
- Was the room or area crowded? Try to report how many other people were in the area, so we can prepare to evacuate and protect them as well as you.
- Other than calling 911, you’ll want to attract as little attention to yourself as possible, so silence your music media and turn off televisions or other noisy devices.
- But what if the shooter enters the room? You can try to defend yourself. While it’s best to stay hidden for as long as you can, if you feel exposed or targeted, it’s okay to fight back—throw things at the shooter; yell at them and yell for help; improvise weapons out of heavy or sharp items in the room; and no matter what, commit to your actions. If you move to attack the attacker, follow through with all your strength and courage. We will arrive very soon to help you and protect you.
What will emergency service personnel do upon arrival?
We will try to stop the shooter. This is most important, even before we help the injured, so there aren’t more injuries.
For us to stop the shooter, we need to know who he or she is. If you empty your hands, immediately raise and spread your fingers, and avoid quick movements after that, we’ll know that you are not threatening anyone. Then, as frightened as you may be, do your best to let us assess the situation and to follow our instructions without asking questions that might slow the evacuation.
Is there any way to prevent a school shooting?
While we can’t prevent all shootings or violent acts, there are sometimes “red flags”—indicators that something should be recognized and taken seriously. For instance, a friend might start or increase his drug or alcohol use or he might stop bathing. Or maybe a classmate gets intensely emotional in class, but starts laughing hysterically afterward. No one quality is a perfect indicator of potential violence, but being aware of some of these—and letting us decide how to respond—might prevent the person from escalating to violence. If you do notice any of the following qualities or behaviors in a person on or near campus, be sure to call us at PCC Police and Safety Services (626) 585-7484.
Indicators of Potential Violence:
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs
- Stops coming to classes without explanation, only making vague physical complaints
- Seems not to take care of hygiene or is depressed and withdrawn
- Reports paranoia—feeling like others are trying to get them in trouble or following them, especially authority figures. This might also involve resistance and overreaction to changes in school policy and procedures or violations of those policies.
- Shows unstable emotions or explosive outbursts of anger or rage without provocation
- Makes suicidal comments
- Speaks about financial problems—or violence—at home or the workplace
- Speaks about previous violent acts or refers to dangerous weapons
- Empathizes with those who have been violent—either on TV/social media or in person.
In addition to the above list, please read our resources on suspicious packages and threats for more information. Also, you can contact any of the following PCC support persons for more help or information:
- C-PART (Crisis Prevention And Response Team—through PCC Police and Safety Services) at (626) 585-7484
- Psychological Services (626) 585-7273
- Health Services (626) 585-7244
- Human Resources (626) 585-7388
- Any nearby Staff or Faculty Member