Fight or flight: What to do in the presence of an active shooter

(FIUSM File Photo)

Jonathan Jacobskind/Staff Writer

Run, hide or fight; the three things people should do at the scene with an active shooter.

According to the University Police website, the document that shares the guidelines in the event of an active shooter highlights what University Police will do in order to stop the shooter from causing any further lethal damage as well as what students can do to save their own lives.

As mentioned on the active shooter document, an active shooter is a person vigorously attempting to kill people in populated area. Active shooters are commonly armed with guns or high-powered rifles or firearms and in most cases did not have a distinctive plan of action or specific person or people they desired to kill.

For Police Chief Alexander Casas and the rest of the FIU Police Department, their main objective when dealing with an active shooter is to, by all means, stop the shooter.

“These cases are typically resolved in 12 minutes, so you do not really have enough time for a specialized unit to show up like a SWAT team,” Casas said.” Our officers are trained to engage the active shooter as soon as we can verify that there is an active shooter.  Once the active shooter has been stopped, then we can focus on crime scene investigation and attending to the victims.”

The policy for active shooters urges that if an active shooter is within near vicinity, one must drop everything, leave their belongings behind and run. Active shooters will shoot whoever comes within their path. Therefore, it is imperative that anyone who is at risk of getting shot by an active shooter must have an escape route and plan in mind prior to an event of an active shooter and evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow.

Christian Velasco, a senior architecture major, is fully aware of what he must do if an active shooter were to wreak havoc on campus by attempting to kill innocent people.

“I was always told no matter if there is a random shooting in my neighborhood or at FIU, just to run for dear life and as far as possible from where it sounds like the bullets are coming from,” Velasco said. “ I just feel running away from someone with a gun is a natural instinct and should always be someone’s initial reaction.”

If evacuation is not possible, the policy notes that student must hide in place the shooter is less likely to attack. In order to for a person to be completely hidden from the wrath of an active shooter, he or she must lock their doors, blockade the door with heavy furniture if available, hide behind large items and stay as quiet as possible as well as shutting off any electrical items that make noise such as televisions or cell phones.

If all else fails and a person has come in contact with the active shooter, one must aggressively fight back by yelling or throwing dangerous and sharp objects at the shooter.

Despite recent cases of active shooters attacking college campus such as at Virginia Tech University as well Stony Brook Elementary, some students remain optimistic that they are in good hands with FIU Police if there were to be an active shooter on campus.

“If an active shooter came to FIU and opened fire, I think FIU Police will put him down right away,” said Jonathan Lozano, a sophomore biology major. “There’s always cops walking around campus like in Graham Center or by the library where a shooter would probably go to since there is a lot of people at those places.”