Violent Intruder


A violent intruder is an individual actively engaged in hurting, attempting to hurt, or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area. The intruder may be using firearms, but the weapon could be a vehicle, a knife, or something else. There is no pattern or method to their selection of victims.


  • Violent intruder situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. Typically, the immediate deployment of law enforcement is required to stop the violence and mitigate harm to victims. Because these incidents are often over within 10 to 15 minutes— perhaps before law enforcement has arrived on the scene—others must also be prepared, mentally and physically, to deal with a traumatic or even tragic situation.

For this discussion, we will use the Department of Homeland Security guidelines for an active shooter situation.


  • RUN—Get out of the immediate area. Help others to escape. Leave belongings behind. Remain calm and stay together. Contact the authorities via 911 once you are relatively safe.
  • HIDE—If evacuation is not an option, find a place to hide (concealment) where the intruder cannot find you. Lock or barricade doors. Move away from windows. Hide behind something substantial. Remain calm and quiet. Silence electronics. Contact the authorities via 911 once you are relatively safe, and do not hang up. If for any reason you can’t talk, allow the line to remain open so the dispatcher can listen to what is happening.
    — If you are caught in the open and able to move, seek cover. Try to put a barrier between you and the intruder. If you are unable to move, play dead, and the intruder may ignore you.
    Cover means protection from the intruder. Concealment means protection from observation.
  • FIGHT—Do this only as a last resort when you are in immediate danger and cannot run. Act as aggressively as possible. Use common items to fight (chair, book, fire extinguisher, sticks, etc.). If people who are under threat outnumber the intruder, use those numbers to your advantage.


  • Authorities will immediately be focused on containing the situation. Stay calm and follow ALL of their directions. Keep everyone together and render first aid.


  • Once the situation is under the authorities’ control and the threat no longer exists, post-event activities become the priority.
    — Everyone present is accountable for determining if anyone is missing or injured.
    — Coordinate with first responders to account for those who were injured and evacuated, or injured and not evacuated, and those who require definitive or specialized medical attention.
    — Activate the communications plan to notify Scout leadership and families.
    — Assess the psychological state of individuals at the scene, and provide assistance accordingly.
    — In the aftermath of such an event, reach out to your council for additional support and resources.

These types of events can be tremendously intense and violent. Good planning, training, and communications can and will save lives. Be prepared. Look, observe, and be aware of your surroundings. If an event occurs—act! Once the event is over, it is important to be together, support each other, and communicate.