June 2, 2023

Important Message from Chief Mike Hall: When Tragedy Strikes a Community

The following is a message is from Campus Police Chief Mike Hall:

When Tragedy Strikes a Community

At the University of Mary Washington, we share common characteristics and hold on to what is good in a community.

When tragedy strikes other communities, we share their grief through a strong communion.  Unfortunately, we are seeing more communities devastated through acts of violence.

Last week, we witnessed yet another community disrupted through a horrific act of violence.

All community members share the responsibilities for safety. As members of the University of Mary Washington community, your colleagues in the Police Department have a true passion to protect and educate our community against violent acts.

Below are guidelines about what to do in the rare event that an active shooter were to disrupt our community, including a video and written recommendations. This information is also available on the UMW Police Department website.

Below is a training video of an Active Shooter in the work place.

This video depicts a fictional representation of an active shooter scenario and includes very realistic imagery and content. Please be aware that watching this video could elicit personal feelings and reactions, which is a normal response to such content. The Talley Center is available to the UMW community to provide support to those with any questions or concerns. It is important that as a community we support one another and respect everyone’s feelings and responses to such tragic events. You may choose not to watch the video at this time. That is fine. Written tips follow the link.


If you choose not to view the video, we suggest the following safety tips in the case of an active shooter. First, you should try to escape; if that’s not possible, shelter place. The option of absolute last resort is to fight.

  • Escape:If possible, evacuate the area where the threat is present. Have a plan in mind and be aware of all possible escape routes. Leave all property behind. If the doors are locked shut be prepared to break out the glass, or reroute around the area. If you encounter the suspect, run in the opposite direction. If you are close enough to the ground floor, consider going through a window if possible. If the window will not open, break it out. If an incident is taking place outside, run in the opposite direction from the gun fire. Call police as soon as you are in a safe area.
  • Shelter in Place:If escape is not possible, shelter in place. Shut and lock the doors. Pile large heavy objects in front of the doors. Stay away from the doors and walls closest to the hallway.  Shut the lights off in the room and turn your cell phone to vibrate. Do not open the door for anyone but law enforcement. If you are in a large open area, shelter behind large structures like concrete walls or buildings. Call the police when you feel that it is safe.
    • Fight:This is a last resort decision. If you are stuck in a location that the suspect is about to enter and you know that a confrontation is imminent, find objects that you can use as weapons or heavy objects to throw at the suspect. If you decide to fight, commit yourself to this action. Once the subject is down, escape from the area as rapidly as possible.

Whatever option you choose, first and foremost,  do not panic. It is a normal human behavior to become frightened during a stressful event. Making plans in advance and keeping your mind active will help you avoid a condition that causes you to freeze.

When you speak to law enforcement officials or to a dispatch center, let them know the location in which the event is taking place, any information about the suspect (such as his/her last known location, physical description, and whether or not he/she is armed).  Let them know if there are any explosives present and if there are any other law enforcement officials on the scene.

We also encourage members of the University community to download the new

Rave Guardian Campus Safety Mobile App (UMW Guardian Eagle Watch)


To download the RAVE Guardian app, go to the Apple Store (iPhone users) or Google Play (Android users).

As always should you have questions or concerns, please contact UMW Police or Emergency Management and Safety at 540-654-1025.