How to identify the signs of a would-be shooter; steps to stay alive

How to identify the signs of a would-be shooter; steps to stay alive »Play Video
This is a still from a public service video called "Run, Hide, Fight." The video is intended to teach people the steps they can take to increase their chances of survival if they find themselves in the midst of an "active shooter."

PORTLAND, Ore. - After a mass shooting people who know the shooter talk about the signs that something was wrong.

For example, people who knew Wade Michael Page, accused in the shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin on Aug. 5, talked about how he changed into an angry person. Now law enforcement says it's time to change the way we think to stop these shooters before they pull the trigger.

There are five stages of an active shooter, according to law enforcement officials. They hope understanding the five stages will help us learn to identify the danger around us.

No. 1 – The Fantasy Stage: This is where the shooter is daydreaming about the shooting, fantasizing about the news coverage and idolizing other shooters.

In the past you might have dismissed this stage as "just" fantasy. Nothing more. But law enforcement officials say you should believe the fantasies and contact them so there can be an intervention.

No. 2 – The Planning Stage: This is when the shooter is deciding who and how to kill. The shooter may still talk about his plans.

No. 3 – The Preparation Stage: The shooter obtains weapons and ammunition and then practices how to use them.

No. 4 – The Approach Stage: In the final moments before a shooting the shooter will walk or drive by the target location with weapons in hand. Someone may still notice something suspicious and call police.

No. 5 – The Implementation Stage: The shooting starts and it’s too late to stop the violence.

Right now some people hesitate to try to intervene, thinking that the person may just be talking about wanting to kill people and wouldn't do it. But it may be time for a shift in our thinking like when we stopped joking about bombs at airports and started noticing abandoned briefcases.

Three steps to know that may save your life in an attack

What would you do if someone opened fire where you are? Law enforcement officials say there are steps you can take to increase your chances of surviving. Even though thinking about an attack may be disturbing, law enforcement officials say they want you to think, plan and act.

No. 1 – Run: "If you can get out, do. Always try and escape or evacuate, even when others insist on staying ... encourage others to leave with you, but don't let them slow you down with indecision," a voice over announcer says during a public service video called "Run, Hide, Fight." The video was funded by a grant from the Department of Homeland Security.

No. 2 – If you can't run, hide: "Act quickly and quietly. Try to secure your hiding place the best you can," the announcer in the video says. "Turn out the lights and, if possible, remember to lock doors, silence your ringer and vibration mode on your cell phone."

No. 3 – As a last resort, fight: "Act with aggression. Improvise weapons. Disarm him and commit to taking the shooter down, no matter what," the announcer says.

Other survival steps: When the first responders show up, remember they are there to stop the shooter first not to help injured people. Keep your hands visible so you don't get hurt and avoid pointing or yelling.

Learn the five stages of an active shooter (Source: Washington County Sheriff's Office)

Watch the public service video: