Surviving an Active Killer Attack

On February 13, 2023, a mass shooting occurred on the campus of Michigan State University (MSU) in East Lansing, Michigan. Three students were killed, and five others were injured. Claudia Chisholm, President of Kingport Industries LLC, maker of Gun Tote’n Mamas, asked what college students could do to survive an active killer attack.

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Run. Hide. Fight

Run, hide and fight are three tactics to keep yourself safe and increase your chance of surviving an active killer attack. These are not in any order. During an attack, you need to decide what action you should take. Sometimes you may need to use more than one. 


  • Have an escape route in mind (always know where exits are located)
  • Evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow
  • Prevent others from entering the area
  • Keep your hands visible
  • Call 911 once you are safe
Run Surviving an Active Killer Attack


  • Find an area out of the shooter’s view
  • Lock the doors or block the entry as much as possible
  • Silence your cell phone (including vibrate mode)
  • Remain quiet
hide Surviving an Active Killer Attack


  • Make every effort to incapacitate the shooter
  • Act with as much physical aggression as possible
  • Improvise weapons or throw items at the killer
fight Surviving an Active Killer Attack

Training Techniques

Over the years, I’ve worked with Andrew Blubaugh, a full-time police officer with more than 25 years of military, private security and law enforcement experience. He owns APEX Shooting and Tactics based in northeast Ohio, where he conducts numerous types of classes: firearms, tactical skills, medical/trauma, active killer and FASTER Saves Lives. He also is involved in staff training at his local school district. I’ve learned the following three techniques (in no particular order) from him that may help someone involved in an active killer situation. 

Swarm Surviving an Active Killer Attack

1. Swarming is an easy and effective way to subdue an aggressive threat. With two or three other people, grab and hang onto the killer’s limbs using all your weight, pulling him to the ground. Once on the ground, continue to hold his limbs using your body weight, knees and elbows, whatever is necessary. If the four of you are the only people in the room, yell for help and alert others, let them know you have him subdued. Ask them to call 911. Stay on him until the police arrive.

improvised weapon

2. Look for improvised weapons in the classroom. Some things that may work are heavy coffee cups, fire extinguishers (you can spray them and then use them as a bludgeoning weapon), heavy books and broom handles. You get the picture. 

1 minute drill imagine

3. Every day, when you walk through a building or are sitting in a classroom, take a minute and imagine you encounter an active killer. Think about how you should respond. Consider how you might escape. Look for places to hide. Remember, the body won’t go where the mind’s never been. 

What to Carry

Carrying a firearm or knife may not be an option in your school. If you’re allowed to have pepper spray, I strongly suggest getting the proper training. You must know how to use it and at what distance it is effective. I also recommend purchasing an inert canister of the same brand so you can practice deploying it. 

Mace and flashlight

Another option, often overlooked, is a tactical flashlight. These flashlights are usually brighter and made from higher-grade aluminum with a serrated edge. They are small enough to fit inside most purses or in your pocket. Use the bright light (or strobe if it has it) to blind the killer. Then, strike, puncture and tear his skin with the serrated edge until the attack ends. 

Mini BOHO pepper spray

Gun Tote’n Mamas’ purses offer a perfect place to store your flashlight or pepper spray. Simply wrap the device in the hook side of a hook and loop fastener and store it in the gun compartment. As with any personal protection device, practice removing it from your purse.

What Next?

Hopefully, someone has already called 911, and the police are on their way. Remember, they are walking into an unknown situation. They do not know who the killer is and who is involved. Here are a few tips to consider when first responders arrive:

  • Greet them with empty hands raised in the air. 
  • Remain calm and follow their commands.
  • Avoid any quick movements.
  • Don’t scream or point. 
  • When evacuating, do not ask questions. 
hands up

These are just a few things you might do to survive an active killer attack. Pay attention to your surroundings at all times. Keep your eyes and ears open.  

  • About Michelle Cerino

    Michelle Cerino, aka Princess Gunslinger, first entered the firearms industry in 2011 as co-owner, president and trainer at a national training company. She immediately began competing in both 3-Gun and NRA Action Pistol, becoming a sponsored shooter. Michelle is currently a columnist and Managing Editor of Women’s Outdoor News, as well as owner of Pervenio LLC. She also manages social media for Vera Koo and FASTER Saves Lives. Michelle encourages others to step out of the comforts of home and explore.