Active Shooter Incidents
An active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area, and recent active shooter incidents have underscored the need for a coordinated response by law enforcement and others to save lives. The FBI is committed to working with its partners to protect schools, workplaces, houses of worship, transportation centers, other public gathering sites, and communities.
Although local and state law enforcement agencies are virtually always the first ones on the scene, the FBI has played a large role in supporting the response to every major incident in recent years and has much to offer in terms of capacity, expertise, specialized capabilities, training, and resources before and after an incident occurs. The successful prevention of these active shooter incidents lies with a wide range of public and private entities all working together.
To that end, the FBI provides operational, behaviorally-based threat assessment and threat management services to help detect and prevent acts of targeted violence, helping academic, mental health, business, community, law enforcement, and government entities recognize and disrupt potential active shooters who may be on a trajectory toward violence. The Bureau also continues its research to identify indicators that could signal potential violent intent.
FBI Jurisdiction in Active Shooter Incidents
Shortly after the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012, the FBI sought ways its personnel could better assist its law enforcement partners. Two actions enhanced these efforts.
First, the Investigative Assistance for Violent Crimes Act of 2012, signed into law by the president in January 2013, permits the U.S. attorney general—at the request of appropriate state or local law enforcement personnel—to provide federal assistance during active shooter incidents and mass killings (defined by the law as three or more people) in public places. The attorney general delegated this responsibility to the FBI.
Second, working with other cabinet agencies, the FBI is finding ways to help prevent and respond to active shooters. A White House working group—consisting of the Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Homeland Security, Department of Education, and Department of Health and Human Services—is part of a broader initiative, Now is the Time, undertaken after the Sandy Hook shootings. DOJ, led by the FBI, was specifically tasked with training law enforcement and other first responders to ensure that protocols for responding to active shooter situations are consistent across the country.
ALERRT/Other Training Initiatives
In response to the Newtown, Connecticut school shootings, the FBI—with the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance—teamed up with the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) program, which was developed in Texas, supported by the state of Texas, and housed at Texas State University. ALERRT has trained more than 114,000 law enforcement first responders in a response protocol adopted by the FBI as the national standard for special agent tactical instructors. Many state and local police departments have also adopted it as a standard for active shooter response, ensuring law enforcement officers arriving on the scene understand how others are trained to respond.
Approximately 225 FBI tactical instructors from around the country were trained in the ALERRT protocols after attending its 40-hour train-the-trainer course and are using what they learned to assist with the increased demand for the training by state, local, tribal, and campus law enforcement agencies.
In addition to offering ALERRT to first responders, FBI field offices are bringing law enforcement command staff together to discuss best practices and lessons learned from prior mass shooting incidents. These two-day conferences include discussions and instructions related to specific aspects of active shooter incidents, including pre-event indicators (i.e., behavioral analysis), complex crime scene management and evidence collection, crisis management, victim assistance, media matters, and improvised explosive devices. To date, more than 64,000 police chiefs, sheriffs, and law enforcement executives from state, local, tribal, and campus law enforcement have participated in these conferences, which will be held on an ongoing basis to ensure that the law enforcement community is prepared for future threats.
FBI field offices also host tabletop exercises—focusing on how to respond and recover from an active shooter incident. These exercises bring together our partner federal agencies, state and local law enforcement, fire services, emergency medical services, federal prosecutors, and district, county, and states’ attorneys.
The FBI’s Law Enforcement Enterprise Portal (LEEP) is an important element in the effort to provide access to tools and resources for law enforcement, intelligence, and criminal justice communities by using single sign-on technology. A primary LEEP component—the Law Enforcement Online (LEO) website—offers a variety of active shooter materials for law enforcement agencies and other first responders to help ensure preparedness for these types of events, including crisis resources, law enforcement training, assistance on dealing with victims, and a directory of FBI field offices.
- Active Shooter Incidents in the United States in 2014 and 2015
- A Study of Active Shooter Incidents in the United States Between 2000 and 2013 (pdf)
- List of FBI-Identified Active Shooter Incidents Since 2000
- Active Shooter Study: Quick Reference Guide (pdf)
- Active Shooter Event: Quick Reference Guide (pdf) | Spanish version
- Law Enforcement Bulletin: Active Shooter Events: 2000-2012
- Law Enforcement Bulletin: Addressing the Problem of the Active Shooter
- Law Enforcement Bulletin: Workplace Violence Prevention
- Campus Attacks
- ALERRT Report on U.S. Active Shooter Events (pdf)
- Arapahoe High School Shooting Report (pdf)
- DHS Countering Violent Extremism/Active Shooter
- Developing Emergency Operations Plans for Schools
- Developing Emergency Plans for Institutions of Higher Learning
- Developing Emergency Plans for Houses of Worship
- FERPA Guidance (pdf) | Spanish version
- HIPAA Guidance (pdf) | Spanish version
- Planning and Response in a Health Care Setting (pdf)
- Incorporating Active Shooter Planning into Health Care Facility Emergency Plans
- Sandy Hook Advisory Commission Final Report (pdf)
The reports listed below were not authored by the FBI, but links to the reports are being provided for general public information.
- Washington, D.C. Navy Yard shootings, 9/16/13
Internal Review of the Washington Navy Yard Shooting: A Report to the Secretary of Defense, Department of Defense
- Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, Newtown, Connecticut, 12/13/12
Sandy Hook Elementary School Shootings Reports, Connecticut State Police