Active Shooter Events and Response: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Active Shooter Events and Response

1st Edition

By John P. Blair, Terry Nichols, David Burns, John R. Curnutt

CRC Press

264 pages | 38 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781466512290
pub: 2013-06-12
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780429253546
pub: 2013-06-12
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The Columbine tragedy on April 20, 1999 began a new era in law enforcement as it became apparent that the police response to such mass shootings must be drastically altered. By the time the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting occurred on December 14, 2012, outdated police response strategies had been replaced with new, aggressive tactics used by the first officers on the scene. The frequency with which these events occur remind us time and again about the importance of training and preparing for these critical situations before they occur in our own backyards.

Active Shooter Events and Response is one of the first attempts to not only discuss historic active shooter events, but also to actually dissect some of them—empowering law enforcement professionals by leveraging the essential knowledge and experience of those who have gone before us. The book also offers insight into the training methodologies and strategies used to prepare our nation’s first responders to address the active shooter threat. In addition, the authors discuss the clear and present threat of terrorist organizations using these mass shooter tactics on American soil—similar to the attacks in Beslan, Russia and Mumbai, India.

Written by members of the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Center at Texas State University, this book is the culmination of more than a decade’s worth of training and research into active shooter events and represents state-of-the-art, evidence-based best practices.


"This important and authoritative book provides a highly useful and well-written overview of significant active shooter events … . Based on the authors’ extensive experience in training and research into active shooter events, the information presented in this book truly is, as they claim, "state-of-the-art, evidence-based best practices."

International Association for Counterterrorism & Security Professionals Reader’s Lounge

Table of Contents

Historical Perspective of Active Shooter Events

Specialization of the Police

The Turning Point

New Response Protocols

Increased Complexity of Events

The Terrorist Active Shooter Threat

Beslan, Russia

Mumbai, India


The Mexico Threat

Active Shooter Events in the United States from 2000 to 2010, WITH M. HUNTER MARTAINDALE


Search Strategy




Characteristics of the Events

The Shooter

Resolution of Event

Preparing for the Event

Primary Goals of the Active Shooter Response

Stop the Killing

Stop the Dying

Concept and Principle-Based Training

General Training Philosophy

Concept and Principle-Based Training

The Mind-Set of the Modern First Responder

The Law Enforcement Warrior

On-Scene Leadership and the Active Shooter Response


En Route and Actions Outside the Building

En Route

Priorities of Work

Gather Intelligence

Arrival on Scene

Outside the Building

Approaching the Crisis Site

Breaching into the Crisis Site

A Final Note on Breaching into a Crisis Site

Entry and Confronting the Threat

Concepts and Principles of Team Movement inside a Structure

Stay Together as Much as Possible

540° Cover around the Team


Cover the Angles

Threshold Evaluation

Speed of Movement

Room Entry

Keys to Effective Room Entry

The Room Entry Process

Improvised Explosive Devices

Effects of an Explosion on the Human Body

Refuge from an Explosive Device (Distance, Angles, and Air Gaps)

Three Rules for Dealing with Explosives

Common Types of Detonators Used with IEDs

Hand-Delivered Devices Used against the Team

Bomb Cover and Bomb Go

Postengagement Priorities of Work


Immediate Action Plan


Tactical Emergency Casualty Care

CCP Location

A Note on Blast Injuries

Linkup Procedures

Priorities for Incident Commanders during the "Stop the Dying" Phase of Response

Provide Security and Quick Reaction Force

Clear Evacuation Route for Victims

Establish a Casualty Collection Point

Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events

The Role of Civilians during Active Shooter Events

Disaster Response



The Decisive Moment

Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events


Deliberation and the Decisive Moment

What to Expect When the Police Arrive




About the Authors

J. Pete Blair is an associate professor of criminal justice at Texas State University and the director of research for ALERRT. Dr. Blair earned his PhD in criminal justice from Michigan State University and his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in law enforcement and justice administration from Western Illinois University. His current research is focused on active shooter events and best practices. He has published research on a variety of policing issues in numerous journal articles and book chapters.

David Burns has been a deputy sheriff in Texas since 1995 and is one of the founding members of the ALERRT program. He also currently serves as a SWAT team leader, where he has been assigned since 1997. Prior to law enforcement, he served for seven years with the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and is a veteran of the Persian Gulf War.

Terry Nichols is the assistant director of the ALERRT Center at Texas State University-San Marcos. He retired from the San Marcos Police Department at the rank of commander in January 2010 after serving over 21 years with the department. His last assignment included commanding the Criminal Investigation Division as well as the Hays County SWAT team, where he served for over ten years. Terry worked numerous assignments for the department over his career, including patrol, narcotics, training, and administration. During his tenure in the Training Division, he led the development and creation of the ALERRT Center in San Marcos. He has a BS degree (1991) and an MS degree (1997) from Southwest Texas State University.

John Curnutt has been a police officer in Texas since 1995 and is the director of training for ALERRT. John has been with the training program since the beginning. He is also a SWAT team leader with over 14 years of experience on the team. John’s past assignments with his agency include working as a School Resource Officer (SRO) in the patrol division. Prior to law enforcement, he studied criminal justice at Texas State University-San Marcos after serving in the US Army’s Arctic Light Infantry immediately after high school.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / Forensic Science
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / Terrorism