A-Z Index

Hostile Intruder


First and foremost, it is important to know and understand that no safety measure is 100% effective. We cannot stop violent acts from happening. There is no way to predict when or where, the date or time an active shooter event will occur. We can, however, mitigate our preparedness efforts in an attempt to save lives by having a better knowledge of our response options.

Profile of a Hostile Intruder

A hostile intruder is an individual actively engaged in killing, attempting to kill or inflicting serious bodily harm to people in a confined and populated area. In most cases, hostile intruders use firearm(s) and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims.

Hostile intruder situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. Typically, the immediate deployment of law enforcement is required to stop the shooting and mitigate harm to victims. 

Because hostile intruder situations are often over within 10 to 15 minutes, before law enforcement arrives on the scene, individuals must be prepared both mentally and physically to deal with an hostile intruder situation.

Good practices for coping with a hostile intruder situation

Call University Police when it is safe to do so!

How to Response When a Hostile Intruder is in Your Vicinity

Several recent and very tragic incidents in public spaces around the country have heightened the public’s concern and awareness about what steps to take if ever confronted with a similar situation. The Northwest Missouri State University Police Department offers the following recommendations and asks that you share them with other members of the campus community.

First, quickly determine the most reasonable way to protect your own life and those around you. Remember that students and visitors are likely to follow the lead of faculty and staff during a hostile intruder situation.

Second, if you ever find yourself in the middle of a hostile intruder event, your survival may depend on whether or not you have a plan. The plan doesn’t have to be complicated and may be as simple as three things that you can do that make a difference: 

Run.  Hide.  Fight.

    1. RUN

      When an active hostile intruder is in your vicinity and it is safe to do so:
      • Attempt to evacuate if there is an escape path
      • Evacuate whether others agree to or not
      • Leave your belongings behind
      • Help others escape if possible
      • Prevent others from entering the area
      • Call University Police at 660.562.1254 when you are safe

    2. HIDE

      If an evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide.

      • Lock and/or blockade the door with heavy furniture
      • Silence your cell phone
      • Turn off any source of noise (i.e., radios, television)
      • Hide behind large objects
      • Remain very quiet

      Your hiding place should:

      • Be out of the shooter’s view
      • Provide protection if shots are fired in your direction
      • Not trap or restrict your options for movement

  1. FIGHT

    As a last resort, and only if your life is in imminent danger:
    • Attempt to incapacitate the intruder
    • Act with physical aggression (your life depends on it!)
    • Improvise weapons (i.e., chairs, books, cell phones, computers)
    • Commit to your actions

Be aware of your environment and each facility you visit daily. Familiarize yourself with those emergency plans and always have an exit strategy.

Know that in an incident like this, victims are generally chosen randomly. These events are unpredictable and often evolve quickly. Remember, the quicker you decide to act, the greater your chances of survival should you find yourself confronted with a hostile intruder situation.

Your actions can make a difference for your safety and survival. Be aware and be prepared.

And, if you should ever find yourself faced with a hostile intruder, there are three key things you need to remember that will help you be prepared:  Run.  Hide.  Fight.

How To Response When Law Enforcement Arrives

Law enforcement’s purpose is to stop the hostile intruder as soon as possible. Officers will proceed directly to the area in which the intruder was last seen or where the last shots were heard.

The first responding officers’ priority is to make contact with the intruder and stop all aggressive behavior. These officers will not stop to help injured persons, but instead proceed forward in an attempt to engage the intruder as quickly as possible and prevent any further harm to innocent bystanders.   

When law enforcement arrives (if weapons are involved):

Information to provide to law enforcement or emergency operator:

Expect rescue teams comprised of additional officers and emergency medical personnel to follow the initial officers. These rescue teams will treat and remove any injured persons. They may also call upon able-bodied individuals to assist in removing the wounded from the premises.

Once you have reached a safe location or an assembly point, you will likely be held in that area by law enforcement until the situation is under control and all witnesses have been identified and questioned. Do not leave until law enforcement authorities have instructed you to do so.

De-escalating techniques for dealing with angry or upset individuals:

Training Staff for a Hostile Intruder Situation

To best prepare staff for a hostile intruder situation, create an Emergency Action Plan (EAP), and conduct training exercises. Together, the EAP and training exercises will prepare staff members to effectively respond and help minimize loss of life.

Components of an Emergency Action Plan (EAP)

Create the EAP with input from several stakeholders including University Police and Health and Safety.  An effective EAP includes:

Assisting Individuals with Special Needs and/or Disabilities

Components of Training Exercises

The most effective way to train staff to respond to a hostile intruder situation is to conduct mock hostile intruder training exercises. Northwest’s University Police Department is an excellent resource in designing training agendas and training exercises which could include:

Contact Information and Additional Resources

For more information, please contact:

University Police Department
Northwest Missouri State University
660.562.1254 -office

Other services provided by the University Police Department: