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Students Told to ‘Run. Hide. Fight’ in Shooting Situation

Students get directions from police on the campus of Michigan State University after a shelter in place order was lifted early Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023, in East Lansing, Michigan. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
Students Told to ‘Run. Hide. Fight’ in Shooting Situation
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As a gunman opened fire inside school buildings at Michigan State University on Monday night, students received an alert on their phones. It read: “Run. Hide. Fight.”

The students broke windows to escape. They blocked doors and hid under blankets for safety. Others turned their phones to silence, afraid to make any noise.

The gunman, a 43-year-old man, killed three students and seriously wounded five others. The incident ended three hours later when the gunman killed himself.

Jaqueline Matthews is an international law student at Michigan State. More than 10 years ago, she was a sixth-grade student in Newtown, Connecticut, when a gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed 26 people. Matthews injured her back while hiding in a corner during the incident.

The 21-year-old student said she was shocked to find herself in another mass shooting situation.

“The fact that this is the second mass shooting that I have now lived through is incomprehensible,” Matthews said in a TikTok video. “We can no longer allow this to happen. We can no longer be complacent.” To be complacent means to be satisfied with how things are and not wanting to change them.

Matthews was not the only MSU student who had already lived through a school shooting. Jennifer Mancini’s daughter is a first-year student at Michigan State. She told the Detroit Free Press newspaper that her daughter also had survived the November 2021 shooting that left four students dead at Oxford High School in southeastern Michigan.

“I can’t believe this is happening again,” said Mancini, who did not want her daughter’s name used.

Run. Hide. Fight

For students like Matthews and Mancini’s daughter, the plan of “Run. Hide. Fight” in an active shooter situation is becoming familiar.

As active shooter incidents increased, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) produced a training video called “Run. Hide. Fight.” It shows three actions that people can do to keep themselves and others safe in an active shooter situation.

When a shooter is nearby, the video says, people should run or hide. They should “fight only as a last resort.” When fighting the attacker, it advises working with others and using available objects as weapons.

Many colleges and schools now follow the practice under different names. But the message is the same: Get out of harm’s way, hide or barricade, and, if an attacker finds you, take action.

Supporters say it gives individuals a list of actions that go beyond the traditional lockdown method.

But critics say it is misguided to teach students, especially younger ones, to fight back. Some school safety experts say it needlessly puts students in danger. Opponents are pushing for stronger lockdown policies and better training for school safety officials.

Joseph Erardi was head of the school system in Newtown, Connecticut, which included Sandy Hook Elementary School. In 2019, after a series of school shootings, Erardi said: “What we’ve learned over time is to provide staff and students with as many options as possible in the moment."

In the last few years, several schools in the U.S. have added panic buttons and live-stream cameras so that police officers can see inside classrooms in real time if a gunman enters a school.

And across the nation, 911 emergency call centers have added a texting option so that people in an active shooter situation can quietly provide information to police.

I’m Ashley Thompson.

Hai Do adapted this story for Learning English based on reports from The Associated Press and the FBI.


Words in This Story

alert - n. something (such as a message or loud sound) that tells people there is some danger or problem : an alarm or signal of danger

incomprehensible - adj. impossible to understand

allow - v. permit, let

complacent - adj. satisfied with how things are and not wanting to change them

last resort - n. something to do because no other choices are possible

lockdown - n. limited movement in the interest of public safety

option - n. choice or possibility

panic button - n. a button that a person can press to call for help