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Tips to protect yourself in a mall shooting


Linda Geist
University of Missouri Extension
Phone: 573-882-9185
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Published: Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013

Story source:

John Worden, 573-882-6851

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Run, hide or fight.

Those are the three options, in order of preference, to protect yourself in the unlikely event of an active shooting at a shopping mall this holiday season, says John Worden, director of University of Missouri Extension’s Law Enforcement Training Institute in Columbia.


Run if a shooter begins firing while you are in a mall, Worden says. Run in a zigzag pattern because a moving target is harder to shoot. Once you are out of the line of fire, alert others who might be in danger and call 911.


If you cannot get out safely, find a hiding place. The best option is a store that has a pull-down gate that can secure the area. Turn off lights and switch your cellphone to silent. Remain quiet. Avoid areas behind hollow doors and drywall. Choose a place you can lock from the inside. Cover windows and move away from them.

Leave belongings behind. “Sometimes we value our stuff to the detriment of our health,” says Worden.

Also, don’t slow down to help others. Even though this may sound selfish, do not risk your own safety because of someone else’s indecision, Worden says. Do warn others not to enter an area where a shooter may be.


The last option is to fight, Worden says. “Is there a group of individuals who can overwhelm and disarm the shooter?” Don’t try to talk to or reason with the shooter. “The shooter isn’t there to talk,” he warns.

Remember that first responders are there to take out the shooter. To avoid becoming collateral damage, stay out of the way and keep your hands visible.

Worden recommends a short video, “Run, Hide, Fight: Surviving an Active Shooter Event,” produced by the City of Houston Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security. It is available at