How to stay safe in the event of an active shooter incident, part 2

Editor’s note: This is part two of a two-part series on what to do during an active shooter event. In part one, published in the Jan. 20, Edition of Anza Valley Outlook and available online at, how to survive in an active shooter event was discussed. In this continuation of the story, how to react when law enforcement arrives is discussed. Thanks to Annie Ashby of the Thimble Club for sharing this vital information with the community.

You have survived an active shooting event, but what should you do when law enforcement arrives?

When law enforcement arrives, remember they do not know who is a victim and who the perpetrators are.

Your cooperation is paramount so follow these guidelines from Homeland Security.

Remain calm, and follow officers’ instructions. Put down any items in your hands (i.e., bags, jackets). Immediately raise your hands and spread your fingers. Keep your hands visible at all times and avoid making quick movements toward officers such as holding 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.

When law enforcement arrives, they will be sweeping the scene for an active shooter(s) and will not check the injured, so do not be surprised. Medics will come after the site has been secured so your cooperation is essential in order for the injured to receive necessary medical care.

Law enforcement is there to stop the active shooter as soon as possible so officers will proceed directly to the area in which the last shots were heard. They usually arrive in teams of four and may be wearing regular patrol uniforms or external bulletproof vests, Kevlar helmets and other tactical equipment. Usually officers are armed with rifles, shotguns or handguns and may use pepper spray or tear gas to control the situation. Be aware that officers may shout commands and may push individuals to the ground for their safety.

Once you have reached a safe location or an assembly point, you will likely 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 until law enforcement authorities have instructed you to do so.

Helpful things an eyewitness should notice are the same things one would need to know when giving info to a 911 operator so try to remember sequences of events such as the location of the active shooter, the number of shooters, if there is more than one, a physical description of shooter(s) and the number and type of weapons held by the shooter(s).

Businesses, schools and groups should consider “Active Shooting Training” in the workplace and with students and fellow members. The Homeland Security Booklet has detailed information and guidelines that will help with this goal.

For more information, including a full pamphlet on what to do in the event of an active shooter, visit, or send an email to

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