FBI Report: “A Study of Active Shooter Incidents in the United States between 2000 and 2013”


On September 24, 2014, the FBI released a study of 160 active shooter incidents that occurred between 2000 and 2013 throughout the United States.

The information contained in this study can benefit anyone who could potentially be in an active shooter situation—like emergency personnel, educators, students, employees of retail corporations and other businesses, government and military personnel, members of the general public, by giving a better understanding of how these incidents play out.

The full report can be downloaded at www.fbi.gov.


A special acknowledgements is extended to Lt. Joe Hendry of the Kent State Police Department who provided research and writing assistance.

1. Law enforcement is often not present until after the incident has ended.

“A total of 60% of the incidents ended before police arrived.”

[Pg. 6] “When the duration of the incident could be ascertained, 69% of the incidents lasted 5 minutes or less with 36% of those ending in 2 minutes or less.” [Pg. 8]

2. Unarmed citizens, staff and students have safely and successfully restrained shooters prior to law enforcement arrival.

“In 13.1% of incidents, the situation ended after unarmed citizens safely and successfully restrained the shooter. In 52% of those incidents, unarmed principals, teachers, other school staff and students confronted the shooters to end the threat. In 48% of those incidents, citizens, working or shopping when the shootings began, successfully restrained shooters until police could arrive. These actions likely saved the lives of students and others present.” [Pg. 21] “Both law enforcement personnel and citizens have the potential to affect the outcome of the (active shooter) event based upon their response.” [Pg. 4]

“The study identified 13.1% of 160 incidents where unarmed citizens made the selfless and deeply personal choices to face the danger of an active shooter. In those instances, the citizens safely and successfully disrupted the shootings. “[Pg. 21]

3. Citizens should be trained in their options to respond.

“Even when law enforcement was present or able to respond within minutes, civilians often had to make life and death decisions, and therefore, should be engaged in training and discussions on decisions they may face.”[Pg. 8] Special Agent Katherine Schweit, who heads the FBI’s Active Shooter Initiative, says she hopes the study “demonstrates the need not only for enhanced preparation on the part of law enforcement and other first responders, but also for civilians to be engaged in discussions and training on decisions they’d have to make in an active shooter situation.”

“Recognizing the increased active shooter threat and the swiftness with which active shooter incidents unfold, this study results support the importance of training and exercises— not only for law enforcement but also for citizens.” [Pg. 21] “It is important, too, that training and exercises include not only an understanding of the threats faced but also the risks and options available in active shooter incidents.” [Pg. 21]

4. Active shooter incidents are happening with increased frequency.

“An average of 6.4 incidents occurred in the first 7 years studied, and an average of 16.4 occurred in the last 7 years studied.” [Pg. 6]

5. No law enforcement officers have been killed when responding to school incidents.

“Study results provided added clarity on instances where law enforcement appeared to be most at risk when responding to the scene. For example, though law enforcement responded to a large number of school incidents, no law enforcement officers were killed or wounded when responding to a school incident.” [Pg. 20]

6. Active shooter incidents DO NOT just take place in classrooms.

“Where shootings occurred inside buildings, 52% took place in school classrooms and hallways, 11% in the school cafeteria , 7% in school administrative offices, 7% in school board meeting rooms, and 7% in the school when no classes were in session. An additional 15% of the incidents were initiated outside including 7% where the shooters were in vehicles.” [Pg. 16]

7. Hiding staff and students under desks is not lowering casualty counts.

“Incidents in educational facilities account for some of the higher casualty counts.” [Pg. 15] “As the FBI continues to study the active shooter phenomenon, the Bureau remains committed to assist state, local, tribal, and campus law enforcement in developing better prevention, response, and recovery practices involving active shooter incidents.” [Pg. 21]

8. Most high school and middle school shooters are students and are already in the building thereby limiting the effectiveness of physical security measures.

“86% of shooters in high school shootings were students at the schools, and 83% of shooters at middle schools were students at the schools.” [Pg. 20]. The shooters ages ranged from 14 to 19. All but 2 shooters were current students at the affected school; one was a former student and the other was a high school student at another school. [Pg. 17]

9. Business and areas of commerce are at risk.

The study results identified 45.6% incidents that occurred in areas of commerce. These included businesses open to pedestrian traffic 27.5%, businesses closed to pedestrian traffic 14.3%, and malls 3.8%. These distinctions were made in order to determine whether the public was more at risk in areas where pedestrian traffic was likely.” [Pg. 13]

10. Since no location is immune to active shooter incidents, it becomes important to train civilians in options that they can apply in any circumstance, not just in a single location.

“The study results identified 46% of incidents that occurred in areas of commerce. These included businesses open to pedestrian traffic 27.5%, businesses closed to pedestrian traffic 14.3%, and malls 3.8%. These distinctions were made in order to determine whether the public was more at risk in areas where pedestrian traffic was likely. Educational environments were identified as the second-largest location grouping 24.4%. [Pg. 13]

Download PDF copy