Survival Options:
Shooting Rampage

The seven survival options for the targets in a shooting rampage: waiting and hoping to be spared, begging, running, hiding, playing dead, being body-shielded by someone else, or... attacking the shooter. See Optimal Mindset for the attitude needed.

Colin Ferguson prowled the aisle of a Long Island Railroad commuter train on December 9, 1993, randomly shooting passengers with a handgun. He stopped to reload then resumed shooting people. When he stopped yet again to reload, several men finally attacked and disarmed him.

Why didn’t they attack him during the first reloading? They were paralyzed by the surreal horror suddenly exploding before them and watched spellbound – until one hero broke the spell and the others followed him.

The Heroes of Flight 93 Taught Us All

A shooter would likely be stopped quickly if his targets were to mob him in a frenzied swarm. For example, on 9/11, 2001, the heroes of United Airlines Flight #93 swarmed their hijackers and crashed the plane into an empty Pennsylvania field rather than a presumed Washington target – teaching an unforgettable lesson to all the world

The Airline Pilots Association says pilots need all the help they can get. If hijackers are wielding sharp-edged weapons, a passenger can grab a seat cushion as a shield or wrap a jacket around his arm and hand to deflect a blade. If you merely defend, you're likely to lose. You must attack the hijacker. Even throwing objects or hot liquids at a hijacker while others attack him in other ways can save lives. Use anything from belts used as whips to serving carts to ram him. Overwhelm him with the sheer number of passengers. See hostage escape and improvised weapons.

Before 9/11, random groups of people weren’t psychologically prepared to rise as a unified group and weren’t aware of their collective power. And the sudden, ear-splitting shock of gunfire often paralyzes people.

Shooting Rampage Survival Options

On the one hand, a single brave soul rushing the shooter might be quickly cut down, thereby discouraging others from following. On the other hand, reactive aggression by a single victim may well open the floodgates of a mob rush (from all sides) to stop the killer – as the only survival alternative to a continued massacre. A crazed gunman began shooting fellow students at Virginia Tech on April 17, 2007. He suddenly left the room for a few minutes, then tried to force his way back inside the door, but the students stopped him. A wounded student, Derek O’Dell, said, "You had to fight for your life. If you didn’t, you died."

Another student, Trey Perkins, said he was amazed at how Mr. O’Dell managed to help hold back the gunman, given his injury. "It was just amazing to me that he was still up and leaning against the door," he said. "Derek was able to hold him off while I was helping other people."


If there's a clear path, run to an exit. Leave your belongings behind.
As you escape, if possible, use a fire extinguisher to spray a dense fog to block a shooter’s view, and/or turn off the lights.
If hiding, turn off your cell phone ringer/vibrator. Stay silent.
If hiding in a room, lock and barricade the door (use furniture if possible), and turn off the lights.
If hiding in a first-floor room, barricade the door and escape through a window. If necessary, smash it open with whatever is available.
• Or... attack the shooter with utmost, do-or-die ferocity - preferably as a group. Use your bare hands or whatever is available. See improvised weapons.
• When the police arrive, stay calm, keep quiet, and keep your hands visible - best held high with palms forward - showing your "surrender."

See Active shooter training | News 4 (WOAI) San Antonio, TX | video 6m02s | It's a brief yet thorough Run Hide Fight video by police experts.

Fighting Fire With Fire

By the way, most shooting rampages take place in "gun-free" zones because the killers know the victims will be unarmed and easy prey. Anti-gun phobes never acknowledge the obvious fact that a licensed, armed citizen in the crowd is the best deterrent to a continued shooting rampage massacre (before the police finally arrive). The news media is also willfully blind to this.

Remember, in the U.S., the average 911 emergency police response-time is ELEVEN minutes. Even eleven seconds in a shooting rampage is an eternity. However, the police dispatcher will give top priority to a reported rampage.

Early-Warning Signs Ignored

Rampage shooters – whether in schools, shopping malls, a workplace, movie theater, or outdoors – usually display the same Shooting Rampage Early-Warning-Signs described in Workplace Safety - Risks & Remedies.

Crime-Safety-Security > Survival Options Overview > Shooting Rampage

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