Active Shooter or Violent Individual

An “active shooter” is an individual actively engaged in shooting and attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases active shooters use firearms(s) and there is no apparent pattern or method to how they choose their victims. Active shooter events are extremely rare in Canada, but they have occurred.

Identifying an active shooter situation

If you hear sounds that you suspect may be gunfire, take action immediately following the “get out, hide, fight” response.


  • Quickly leave the area if it is safe to do so, leaving your belongings behind.
  • Warn but do not wait for others.
  • Once you are in a safe location, call 911 and then Protective Services (780-492-5050).


  • If you cannot escape, get out of sight.
  • Lock and block doors, turn out lights and silence your electronic devices.
  • Hide under a desk or behind furniture or equipment.
  • Stay silent and still, and listen.
  • If possible call 911 and then Protective Services (780-492-5050). Try to communicate silently: use text messaging, social media, or put a sign in a window.
  • Stay in your hiding place until emergency responders arrive; they will guide you and help you.


  • If you cannot escape or hide, fight. This is an extreme response and appropriate only when you are in immediate danger.
  • Commit to your actions and behave as aggressively as you can.
  • Use makeshift weapons such as furniture, backpacks and fire extinguishers.

Be prepared for an active shooter event

You can prepare simply by being aware in the places you take classes, study or work. Where are the exits? Do the doors lock? Ask yourself "What if…?" This kind of thinking is helpful in preparing for all kinds of emergencies, wherever you may go.

Take a few minutes to watch the university’s active shooter response video: Shooter on campus: Know you can survive.

In this video you will learn what to do if you ever confront the unthinkable: an individual shooting at people at random in a populated area.

View additional information on the active shooter response video.

Video content warning

The video simulates the conditions you might experience during an active shooter event. Some people might find the video disturbing. It might help to view the video with others, such as classmates, friends or colleagues, so you can talk about it after you have watched it.

If you think you need to talk to a professional, there are resources available:

  • If you are a U of A student, you can contact the University Wellness Services Mental Health Centre, located at 2-600 SUB. Call 780-492-5205 or learn more here.
  • If you are a member of U of A staff, you can contact the university's EFAP provider, Homewood Human Solutions, available 24 hours.

You also have the option of the anonymous, 24 hour support available through Alberta Health Services. Find information here about the Mental Health Help Line or call directly: 1-877-303-2642 Toll free 1-877-303-2642

Physical threats

If you are ever caught in a situation where an individual is agitated and threatens physical violence, your first priority must be to remove yourself from the situation.

  • Do not confront the violent person. Get away and go to a safe place.
  • Call 911 and then Protective Services (780-492-5050).
  • If possible, notify others in the area to leave the area if they can do so safely.

Questions about campus safety

If you have any questions about safety on U of A campuses, contact Protective Services at 780-492-5050.

Individuals who harm themselves or others often give prior indications that something is seriously wrong. Please visit Helping Individuals at Risk if you have any concerns about the behaviour of a student or a member of staff.

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