Active Shooter or Armed Intruder

While rare, it is important to prepare for an armed intruder situation just as you prepare for other types of emergencies. An armed intruder is defined by a person actively threatening lives in a populated area. An armed intruder may be an active shooter - a person actively shooting a weapon and causing harm, or it could be an individual with a knife or other weapon.

These situations evolve very rapidly, and require individuals to make decisions very quickly. Each situation is unique, and how to best respond to an armed intruder situation will be determined by the specific circumstances at the time of the event. If you find yourself faced with an armed intruder situation, try to remain calm and use the general guidelines outlined below to help make the best plan possible.

What to Do

If you hear shots fired, see someone with a weapon, or receive an AppState ALERT about an active shooter or armed intruder, consider the following actions:


  • Move quickly - do not wait for others to validate your decision.
  • Leave your belongings behind.
  • Survival chances increase if you are not where the shooter is or if you go where the shooter can't see you.
  • Get as far as you can away from the danger area.


  • If you can't get out because the shooter is between you and the only exit then hide out.
  • Move out of the hallway and look for a well hidden and well protected room.
  • Avoid places that might trap or restrict your movement.

Call the Police

Remember - Once you are in a safe location, call the Appalachian Police by dialing 828-262-8000 or 911, or use one of the campus emergency blue light phones, campus safety app.

When Hiding, Remember to

Keep Out!

  • Try to find a room that can be locked - if the room can't be locked try to barricade or block the door with heavy furniture or other heavy objects.
  • Turn out the lights and all noise-producing devices.
  • Try to stay silent. Turn your phone to silent where it will not ring or vibrate.
  • Call the police if you can do so without alerting the shooter.

Spread Out!

  • If there are two or more of you, do not huddle together.
  • Spreading out gives you more options and makes it harder for the shooter.
  • Quietly develop a plan of action in the event the shooter enters your room.
  • Remain calm. This can have a "contagious" effect on others.
  • Stay focused on survival. Keep others focused.


  • Assume the shooter's intentions are lethal.
  • Develop a survival mindset - actively choose the position that you have what it takes to survive when your life is on the line.
  • You must be prepared to do whatever it takes to neutralize the threat.
  • Throw things, yell, or use improvised weapons.
  • If there are two or more of you, make a plan to overcome the shooter.

How to React When Law Enforcement Arrives

  • Remain calm, and follow the instructions of police officers
  • Put down any items in your hands (i.e., bags, jackets)
  • Immediately raise hands and spread fingers
  • Keep hands visible at all times
  • Avoid making quick movements toward officers. Do not try to approach them--they are focused on neutralizing the threat.
  • Avoid pointing, screaming and/or yelling
  • Do not stop to ask officers for directions when evacuating, just proceed in the direction from which officers are entering the premises

More Information



  • On-campus: Appalachian Police (828-262-8000) or 911
  • Off-campus: 911