Active shooter events occur without warning and in unexpected locations. For the purpose of this discussion, active shooter is interchangeable with active threat, active assault, or workplace violence. Yes, shooter indicates there is a gun. However, the response is similar.
The mantra of “run, hide, fight” taught by the FBI is a good starting point for discussion. But, just talking about actions will not aid in surviving an attack.
Instruction, walk-throughs, and drills, conducted on a regular basis, are the only answers for survival in a workplace violence incident.
Perpetrators of these incidents come from a wide range in age, race, and religion. The only common factor is that they are typically male. This is not a study of the mind of a mass killer. But these perpetrators do display characteristics that indicate they may be troubled and planning to do harm.
There are many subtle indicators that, if discovered, could help security managers stop an attack early in the planning phase.
Howler vs. Hunter
Howler: someone who controls the emotions of others. They typically display aggression through words. However, they rarely act on those words.
“Howlers want to be seen and heard, but they don’t necessarily want to harm others physically. Instead, they want to control their victims’ emotional state. Howlers are very overtly in your face…Their goal is to frighten you. Their behavior is identifiable and recognizable.”
Hunter: stealthy and cunning. These assailants plan, conduct surveillance, and rehearse before carrying out physical harm on others. They are difficult to detect prior to an attack. It may be subtle, but they usually let someone know their intentions prior to an attack.
“By identifying a problem individual as a hunter, the effective threat manager can use the steps along the path to intended violence to disrupt the hunter’s plans and preparations or to persuade the potential hunter to abandon his or her trek.”
–Frederick Calhoun and Stephen Weston