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Empowering communities to prevent future tragedies by learning from the past.

For decades, active shooter events have occurred all over the country, leaving a trail of destruction and loss in their wake.

Despite progress, our nation's response to active shooter events is regressing, resulting in unnecessary loss of life. Delay in response is a growing concern, and it's time for a change in approach. Take proactive measures to prepare and join us in making a difference. Review past events and engage in the conversation on prevention and preparation.

Together, the Active Shooter Prevention Project and the community can work towards a safer future for all.

Columbine High School Shooting
April 20, 1999
Littleton, Colorado

Time to Respond: 45 minutes

The tragic shooting at Columbine High School in 1999 was a turning point in the way law enforcement responds to active shooter situations. During the incident, police arrived on the scene but waited 45 minutes before entering the school to confront the shooters. This delay in response was heavily criticized and led to a shift in police protocol, with a greater emphasis on immediate action and the use of specialized units like SWAT teams.

This incident served as a wake-up call for law enforcement agencies across the country. It highlighted the need for better training, equipment, and tactics to effectively respond to active shooter situations and minimize the loss of life. As a result, law enforcement agencies now prioritize getting officers on the scene as quickly as possible and moving to confront the shooter without waiting for SWAT teams to arrive.

KEY Takeaway
Traditional police response tactics were inadequate for active shooter situations, as officers waited 45 minutes to enter the school, highlighting the need for improved training and protocol for immediate engagement. Officers cannot wait for the SWAT team to arrive. They must engage.

Virginia Tech Shooting
April 16, 2007
Blacksburg, Virginia

Time to Respond: 4 hours 45 minutes

The Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 was a watershed moment in the way police and emergency responders approached incident management and coordination. Prior to this tragedy, the standard protocol for responding to a shooting was to secure the immediate area and then declare the incident over. However, the Virginia Tech shooting revealed the flaw in this approach when the shooter, who had already killed 32 people, was able to start a second wave of attacks because the police and emergency responders believed the incident was over.

This tragic event highlighted the need for a more thorough and coordinated approach to incident management, one that considers the possibility of multiple attackers and multiple locations. It also emphasized the importance of continuing to search and secure an area until it is entirely safe, rather than assuming the incident is over based on initial reports.

KEY Takeaway
Assume Nothing. This shooting incident changed the way emergency responders and police approach incident management and coordination. It highlighted the importance of thoroughly searching and securing an area to ensure the safety of all, and the need for a coordinated response in the event of multiple attackers and multiple locations. This event also led to law enforcement having helmets, heavy vests, and rifles in their vehicles always.

Fort Hood Shooting
November 5, 2009
Killeen, Texas

Time to Respond: 10 minutes

The Fort Hood shooting in 2009 was a watershed moment for active shooter prevention and emergency response. The incident, which resulted in the deaths of 13 people and the injury of 32 others, highlighted the importance of recognizing and addressing warning signs before an event occurs. The shooting occurred in a military base, which was believed to be a secure location.

KEY Takeaway
The Fort Hood shooting serves as a reminder that these types of events can happen anywhere and everywhere, and it is crucial for organizations to have the necessary protocols in place to prevent and respond to active shooter incidents. This tragedy underlines the importance of implementing proactive measures to identify and address potential threats, rather than relying solely on reactive measures.

Sandy Hook
Elementary School Shooting
December 14, 2012
Newton, Connecticut

Time to Respond: 20 minutes

The tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012 was a turning point in the way law enforcement responds to active shooter situations. In response to this tragedy, the ALERRT center in San Marcos was established to provide training for police officers on how to effectively respond to active shooter situations. Through their train-the-trainer program, they have trained over 120,000 officers to date, with funding from the Department of Justice.

The goal is to provide a standard response protocol for all officers, including arriving on scene, prioritizing the stopping of the shooter, and providing real-time advice to incident commanders. However, one major challenge that emerged from this incident is the need for officers to be able to simultaneously engage in a foot pursuit of the shooter, conduct a hostage rescue, and serve as incident commanders.

KEY Takeaway
The importance of standardizing active shooter response for law enforcement is crucial. We also need officers to be able to effectively multitask in high-stress situations, such as being able to pursue the shooter, rescue hostages, and manage the incident all at the same time. We also identified the need to report leakage. If you see something or hear something that isn’t quite right, say something.

Pulse Nightclub Shooting
June 12, 2016
Orlando, Florida

Time to Respond: 3 hours 51 minutes

This incident highlighted the importance of proper incident management and command training for police officers, as well as the need for officers to be able to take immediate action in the event of a crisis, rather than waiting for specialized units to arrive. This tragedy also showed how crucial it is for police commanders to make quick and effective decisions in high-stress situations. This shooting also highlighted the importance of emergency preparedness and response for the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalized groups who may be targeted in a mass shooting.

KEY Takeaway
This incident reinforced the need for police commanders to be trained as if they were first responders, to effectively handle active shooter situations and minimize loss of life. The police were there in 30 seconds, but they were told to withdraw and wait for SWAT. Active Shooter Events need to be addressed immediately. Don’t wait, respond instantly.

Stoneman Douglas
High School Shooting
February 14, 2018
Parkland, Florida

Time to Respond: 9 minutes

The Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland highlighted the importance of not just training, but also the willingness and ability of first responders to take action in active shooter situations. The failure of officer Peterson to respond despite being on the scene at the time of the first shot, resulted in 17 innocent lives being lost and 17 more being injured. This serves as a reminder that training and preparation must go hand in hand with the determination and capability to act to effectively prevent and respond to active shooter incidents.

KEY Takeaway
There is a critical need for not only training, but also the willingness and capability of first responders to take action in active shooter situations. Officer Peterson’s failure to respond, despite being present at the start of the shooting, resulted in 17 deaths and 17 injuries. This serves as a reminder that training and preparation must be accompanied by the determination and ability to take action in order to effectively prevent and respond to active shooter incidents. Police have the ability to be a first responder. Unfortunately, they often do not have a desire.

Rob Elementary School Shooting
May 24, 2022
Uvalde, Texas

Time to Respond: 1 Hour 17 minutes

The Uvalde shooting was a tragedy that highlighted the need for effective active shooter response among first responders. Despite the presence of 376 officers on scene, many armed with long guns and shields, the shooter was able to kill 19 kids and 2 teachers before being stopped by a lone border patrol officer. The incident led to a false finding by the ALERRT center, which was later corrected by the Governor’s office, and ultimately resulted in the discontinuation of the ALERRT method and the creation of a 1.2-billion-dollar training center for Texas.

KEY Takeaway
Prevention needs to start with the people present at the event, and that empowering them to be ready and hardening each location is key to preventing future tragedies.

Chris Grollnek on Vigilance

Being paranoid and being vigilant are not the same. Vigilance means being alert to potential dangers, and it’s crucial in today’s evolving threats.

Understanding the difference between the two is essential, as paranoia can lead to unnecessary fear. At ASPP, we evaluated past events to maintain vigilance, and it’s important to stay informed, educated, and take appropriate precautions to mitigate risks.

Being on the ASPP team means committing for life to find solutions and serving the community by stopping active shooters and protecting the public.

Accept Our Challenge

Despite past failures, we challenge those seeking to improve active shooter resistance solutions. Examine past failures and bring new ideas that can change the trajectory of this issue.

Chris Grollnek, active shooter expert-prevention-Active-Shooter-Prevention-Project-training

Train to control triggers, adapt to chaos, and be present. Don’t let lack of preparation be an excuse for past failures in gunfights, as perpetrators may also lack experience.

Can you bring new solutions to the table? We want to hear from you!

Don't miss your opportunity to invite ASPP to speak at your next event.