A computer model of the Columbine school shooting: simulating how to survive in an active shooter situation

An image to illustrate the computer model of the active shooter situation
© Eric Dietz/Purdue University

A team at Purdue University has used a computer model to analyse the active shooter situation inside the library at Columbine on the day of the shooting in 1999.

The team simulated multiple different outcomes to determine the likely number of victims and survivors based on different actions. The computer model tests how well “run, hide, fight” work in an active shooter situation. According to Purdue University, the idea behind this method of acting during an active shooter situation is to escape the situation or protect oneself, and counter the gunman only as a last resort.

Why has the computer model been created?

According to Purdue, the computer model is intended to provide better training for schools and other organisations.

Eric Dietz, director of the Purdue Homeland Security Institute and a professor of computer and information technology in the Purdue Polytechnic Institute notes: “We obviously hope these tragedies are avoided, but we want to provide information that those caught in active shooter situations can use to survive and potentially help others make it out alive.”

What is the best model for survival in an active shooter situation?

Dietz explained: “We find that the number of casualties is higher in situations like Columbine when more people try to hide instead of run. That’s not to say it is the best action every single time, but rather we want to use our model and some of our research to better inform schools on active shooter training and survival information. Running from the situation is often linked to the best outcomes.”

The team has released a video with more detail on the Columbine computer model.

Dietz and his team at the Purdue Homeland Security Institute are working on a number of public safety projects. According to Purdue, they have also worked with the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization on patenting some of their tech.

Source: Purdue University

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