Active Shooter Incidents


The safety of students, staff, and faculty is a priority at Whittier College. Recent tragedies on school campuses make it imperative for members of the campus community to be prepared for a wide range of emergencies. As such, Whittier College’s Department of Campus Safety is committed to continuously train officers to respond to all types of critical incidents, including active shooter situations. It is equally as important to maintain our campus community aware, informed, and prepared for these situations.

If you witness any suspicious activity on campus, immediately contact Campus Safety at 562.907.4211. If you witness or find yourself in a threatening situation, dial 911.

Trust your intuition, especially when dealing with a potentially threatening situation. If you feel uneasy about what someone is doing or is saying, contact Campus Safety. If the situation is not urgent, you may call the Office of the Dean of Students at 562.907.4233, the Human Resources Office at 562.907.4208, or fill out a PEAP (Poet Early Alert Program) form. While you may feel some information is not worthy of attention, it may be critical information for others to recognize a pattern of potential threat.

There are several indicators of a potential threat which, when taken by themselves, may not be immediately obvious. Nevertheless, you may only be seeing part of what is going on, so it's very important to tell a professor, staff member, supervisor, campus resource person, or Campus Safety of any concerns that you may have. If you recognize any of these warning signs, you are encouraged to notify someone immediately.

  • Explicit statements about harming someone
  • Social isolation
  • Changes in behavior (sudden or otherwise)
  • Change in academic performance
  • Unexplained absenteeism
  • Increase in alcohol or drug use
  • Anxiety or uncertainty about family/relationships situations
  • Explicit statements about harming someone
  • Attempts to harm or kill self
  • Conflicts with others
  • Lack of energy or chronic fatigue
  • Bizarre behavior
  • Change in appearance/declining hygiene
  • Sending disturbing messages (i.e. texts, e-mails, letters) to students/staff/faculty.
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Displays paranoia
  • Alienates him/herself from others/family
  • Loss of job/income/relationship
  • Disruptive behavior/irritability/abrasive toward others
  • Coursework content that is alarming
  • Depression or nervousness
  • Identifying with other persons who engaged in past violence toward others
  • Making statements that supports the use of violence to resolve issues

Warning signs can manifest themselves in many forms: one-on-one settings, group interaction, public behavior, letters, emails, blogs, websites, social networking sites, photos, phone calls, text messages, etc. The previous list of warning signs is not intended to be comprehensive.

What is an Active Shooter Situation?

An active shooter is a person or persons who appear to be actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in populated areas on campus. In most cases, active shooters use firearm(s) and display no pattern or method for selection of their victims. In some cases, active shooters use other weapons and/or improvised explosive devices to cause additional victimization and act as an impediment to law enforcement and emergency services responders. These improvised explosive devices may detonate immediately, have delayed detonation fuses, or may detonate on contact.

How to Respond When an Active Shooter is in Your Vicinity

Quickly determine the most reasonable way to protect your own life. Students are likely to follow the lead of faculty and staff person during an active shooter situation.

A. Run

  • Have an escape route and plan in mind
  • Evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow
  • Leave your belongings behind
  • Help others escape, if possible
  • Prevent others from entering an area where the active shooter might be
  • Keep your hands visible
  • Do not attempt to move wounded victims
  • Call 911 or Campus Safety at 562.907.4211 when you are safe

B. Shelter in Place

  • Hide in an area out of the active shooter's view
  • Block entry to your hiding place with heavy furniture and lock the doors
  • Silence your cell phone
  • Turn off radios, televisions, or other equipment that produce noise
  • Remain quiet
  • Remain calm
  • Call 911 or Campus Safety at 562.907.4211, if possible, to alert law enforcement of the shooter's location. 
  • If you cannot speak, leave the line open to allow the dispatcher to listen

C. Fight

  • As a last resort and only when your life is in imminent danger
  • Attempt to incapacitate the active shooter
  • Act with physical aggression and throw items at the active shooter


How to Respond When Law Enforcement Arrives on the Scene

1. When law enforcement arrives

  • Remain calm, and follow officers' instructions
  • Immediately raise hands and spread fingers
  • Keep hands visible at all times
  • Avoid making quick movements toward officers such as attempting to hold 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

2. Information you should provide to law enforcement or 911 operator

  • Location of the active shooter
  • Number of shooters, if more than one
  • Physical description of shooter/s
  • Number and type of weapons held by the shooter/s
  • Number of potential victims at the location

Source: United States Department of Homeland Security