Active Shooter and Tools to Survive Targeted Violence

We all hope it never happens, but the campus community must recognize the potential for an active shooter or other active deadly threat to occur. UCPD Berkeley’s highest priorities include the prevention of and preparation for events involving targeted violence. Statistically, the chance for any individual to ever experience such a situation is low, but we ask everyone to be aware of warning signs, to be alert to their surroundings, and to contact the police or reach out to other appropriate resources when a concern exists.


For more information about UCPD Berkeley’s role in preventing targeted violence events, and for additional options to report threats and behavior of concern on campus (whether to police or non-police resources), please visit our Threat Assessment and Management resource page.

We also encourage you to verify that you are signed up to receive WarnMe Alerts, which is how UCPD Berkeley will quickly share information with the campus community during a crisis.

Review the sections below for information and guidance about how to prepare for and survive an act of targeted violence. 

Tools to Survive Targeted Violence

  • The first step to surviving a targeted violence event is to recognize when it is happening. If you notice unusual actions, sounds, objects, conditions or circumstances that cause you fear or concern, take a moment to evaluate and determine if they might indicate a real threat. Overcome the urge to dismiss warning signs just because they suggest an incident that seems improbable or which makes you uncomfortable.
  • If you realize a threat exists, report it as soon as possible. This means calling 911, or  warning others near you so that someone else can call. Make an effort to observe, remember and share specific facts and details - especially those having to do with identifying the level of danger and the involved persons. In a building, we advise against pulling the fire alarm, which might unintentionally place more people in harm’s way.
  • Move away from the threat if you can do so without exposing yourself to additional risk, and help others do the same. Otherwise, shelter in place - but be ready to move when an opportunity or need arises. Do your best to stay out of sight but avoid locations or positions that you are unable to maintain for a long period of time. Consider using objects to block doors and windows. Silence personal electronic devices and turn off lights, unless doing so would draw attention.
  • If directly confronted, you might have the opportunity to do something that affects the outcome. The situation is not your fault, or your responsibility to resolve. But depending on the specific circumstances and your own capacities, it is possible that your actions could make a difference. Can you distract or disorient the threatening person? Can you delay them from causing harm? Perhaps you  can mislead or deceive them to reduce the harm they cause. If attacked, you might be able to physically evade the assault or even defend yourself, when no other options are available.
  • It may take some time for the crisis to resolve. Make the best decisions you can based on your personal safety needs and specific circumstances. Pay attention to information and instructions from WarnMe, campus officials and public safety personnel. If significant time has passed without new information, check news reports, UCPD Berkeley social media, or call the police department non-emergency number. 
  • After a targeted violence event, self-care is critical. Address any medical needs without delay and let your family, friends and campus officials know you are OK. Experiencing such an event is likely to be traumatic and we encourage you to utilize campus or other resources and support options. You might have information or insights that would be useful for the investigations and assessments that are sure to follow, and we hope you participate if you are able.

A.L.I.C.E. Training

If you are interested in facilitating education and training for your organization or group about preparing for the potential of targeted violence, UCPD Berkeley suggests the A.L.I.C.E. program (produced by Navigate360, LLC), which is utilized by UC Berkeley Residential and Student Services (RSSP) and other campus departments. A.L.I.C.E. stands for:

ALERT - Alert is your first notification of danger.

Alert is when you first become aware of a threat. The sooner you understand that you’re in danger, the sooner you can save yourself. A speedy response is critical. Seconds count. 

LOCKDOWN: Barricade the room. Prepare to EVACUATE or COUNTER if needed.

If Evacuation is not a safe option, barricade entry points into your room in an effort to create a semi-secure starting point.

INFORM - Communicate the violent intruder’s location and direction in real time.

The purpose of INFORM is to continue to communicate information in as real time as possible, if it is safe to do so. Armed intruder situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly, which means that ongoing, real time information is key to making effective survival decisions. 

COUNTER - Create noise, movement, distance and distraction with the intent of reducing the shooter’s ability to shoot accurately. Counter is NOT fighting.

ALICE Training does not believe that actively confronting a violent intruder is the best method for ensuring the safety of those involved. Counter is a strategy of last resort. 

EVACUATE - When safe to do so, remove yourself from the danger zone.

ALICE provides techniques for safer and more strategic evacuations. Evacuating to a safe area takes people out of harm’s way and hopefully prevents civilians from having to come into any contact with the shooter.

For more information, please visit:

Understanding the Police Response

Police officers will respond to a targeted violence event with the highest priority, but during a critical incident like this even a few minutes can seem to take forever. 

  • UCPD call takers and dispatchers are likely to be overwhelmed and may not be able to stay on the line after gathering essential facts.
    • If you think you have new and useful information, try to call back. If you just want status updates and you have not signed up for WarnMe, check the UCPD twitter account (@UCPD_Cal) or other reliable online information sources rather than calling.
  • We expect that first responders will be challenged by the problem of limited and quickly changing information about the situation.
    • If officers encounter you at the scene, they might not immediately know you are not a suspect.
    • Keep your hands visible, avoid aggressive movements, and follow their instructions. Do not reach for or hold objects that might resemble weapons.
    • Share any new and useful information if you can.
  • The first priority of the officers is to stop the active deadly threat.
    • Triage for any injured persons will be done as soon as possible.
    • Everyone present is likely to be identified and interviewed, whether immediately or in the near future.

For additional information about UCPD Berkeley’s preparation for and response to targeted violence events, please send an email to or call the department non-emergency number at (510) 642-6760. 

Additional Resources

UC Berkeley affiliates with a CalNet ID may log in to watch “When Lightning Strikes” a video resource library produced and licensed by the Center for Personal Protection and Safety (CPPS):

Image of the button to play a video