© 2023 Milwaukee Public Media is a service of UW-Milwaukee's College of Letters & Science
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

What To Do If There's An Active Shooter


On Wednesday, a shooter in Middleton injured three people at the software company where he worked, before officers fatally shot him.

There have been over 250 active shooter incidents throughout the United States since 2000: in schools, places of worship and entertainment, workplaces and elsewhere.

Matt Magolan, a police officer with the city of Madison police department, is part of a group of six officers who train citizens on how to respond to active shooter events. And he says that an active shooter situation is a low probability event with a high impact that citizens can do something about.

“There are some very simple tools you can learn to maximize your chances of survival if you ever do find yourself in one of these situations,” he says.

Magolan suggests three ways to respond to increase your survival during an active shooter incident.

1. AVOID the shooter

He says, “You want to go in the opposite direction, you want to break out a window and get out of the building. You want to just move away from where the shooting is coming from.”

2. DENY access to the shooter

If you can’t get away from the shooter, “create a situation where you’re barricaded in a room or an area of a building where the shooter can’t get to you, cannot access you,” Magolan says.

3. DEFEND yourself

“This is a shift for a lot of people because most people don’t want to use violence in our communities. However, legally, morally and ethically, if someone is using violence against you, you have a right to defend yourself,” he explains.

Magolan notes that, at times, it’s safer defend yourself against the shooter than it is to run away.

He says to go for the weapon because that levels the playing field since most shooters use easy to conceal handguns.

“You move toward the shooter, and you grab over the top of the slide of a handgun, with a c-grip, and you basically induce a malfunction in the fire arm because the slide, the top of the handgun, must cycle in order for the gun to function properly,” Magolan explains.

Editor's note: The audio and text in a previous version of this story incorrectly stated there have been over 250 active shooter incidents throughout the United States since 2010. It is actually since 2000. The story has been updated.

Maayan Silver is a WUWM news reporter.
Lauren Sigfusson
Lauren became WUWM's digital producer in July 2018.