If someone wielding a gun walks into your building, would you try to:

  1. Get out of the building right away
  2. Find a safe place to hide
  3. Confront the person?

The correct answer actually depends on the circumstances. And key to quickly evaluating the situation and determining the best response is a survival mindset – one in which you take responsibility for your personal safety.

That’s the message officers from UNC-Chapel Hill Police are giving during training sessions to groups, departments, and residence communities throughout the campus over the past two years.

What You Should Do

  • Assess what is happening and get out of the room or area right away if you can, he said. If you are walking outside, keep walking and find protection.
  • Once out of harm’s way, call 911 to let the police know what is going on.
  • If you are unable to get out, you should hide out – but not in a place in which you could be trapped. Lock the door, be quiet and mute your cell phone.
  • Make sure you spread out so everyone is not gathered in a small space. That makes it too easy for a shooter to target a lot of people, he said.
  • If you are in the same room as a shooter, you might have to confront the person. (If you do, however, become more aggressive than ever: throw things at the shooter, yell, whatever it takes. Tell yourself, “I will survive.”
  • When law enforcement officials arrive on the scene, be compliant and calmly provide details. Raise your hands, spread your fingers and drop to the floor. Don’t run toward the police officers.
  • If you are in a hostage situation, you should not be aggressive. Instead, be patient and compliant and let the police negotiate.

The training, Shots Fired on Campus, is part of Carolina’s ongoing campus safety efforts. It is based on a DVD called “Shots Fired: When Lightning Strikes” that was produced by the Center for Personal Protection and Safety. The training is available for any campus group that requests it.

To request training from UNC Police, contact Sgt. James David at 919-966-3230 or dhjames@psafety.unc.edu.