When the Columbine High School massacre took place in 1999 (opens in new tab) it was seen as a watershed second within the United States — the worst mass taking pictures at a school within the nation’s historical past.
Now, it ranks fourth. The three school shootings to surpass its dying toll of 13 — 12 college students, one instructor — have all taken place inside the final decade: 2012’s Sandy Hook Elementary attack (opens in new tab), wherein a gunman killed 26 kids and school employees; the 2018 taking pictures at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which claimed the lives of 17 people (opens in new tab); and now the Robb Elementary School assault in Uvalde, Texas (opens in new tab), the place on May 24, 2022, not less than 19 kids and two adults have been murdered.
We are criminologists who examine life histories of public mass shooters within the U.S. As a part of that analysis, we constructed a comprehensive database (opens in new tab) of mass public shootings utilizing public knowledge, with the shooters coded on over 200 completely different variables, together with location and racial profile. For the needs of our database, mass public shootings are outlined as incidents wherein 4 or extra victims are murdered with not less than a type of homicides happening in a public location and with no connection to underlying legal exercise, equivalent to gangs or medicine.
Our database reveals that since 1966, when our database timeline begins, there have been 13 such shootings at colleges throughout the U.S — the primary in Stockton, California (opens in new tab), in 1989.
Four of these shootings — together with the one at Robb Elementary School — concerned a killing at one other location, at all times a member of the family at a residence. The most up-to-date perpetrator shot his grandmother previous to going to the school in Uvalde.
The majority of mass school shootings have been carried out by a lone gunman, with simply two — Columbine and the 1998 shooting at Westside School in Jonesboro (opens in new tab), Arkansas — carried out by two gunmen. In all, some 146 folks have been killed within the assaults and not less than 182 victims injured.
The selection of “gunmen” to explain the perpetrators is correct — the entire mass school shootings in our database have been carried out by males or boys. And the common age of these concerned in finishing up the assaults was 18.
This matches with the image that has emerged of the shooter within the Robb Elementary School assault. He turned 18 simply days in the past and reportedly bought two military-style weapons. It is believed that the shooter used one military-style weapon within the assault, authorities mentioned May 25, 2022.
Police have yet to release key information (opens in new tab) on the shooter, together with what motivated him to kill the youngsters and adults at Robb Elementary School. The image of the shooter that has emerged conforms to the profile now we have constructed up from previous perpetrators in some methods, however diverges in others.
We know that the majority school shooters have a connection to the school they aim. Twelve of the 14 school shooters in our database previous to the newest assault in Texas have been both present or former college students of the school. Any prior connection between the newest shooter and Robb Elementary School has not been launched to the general public.
Our analysis and dozens of interviews (opens in new tab) with incarcerated perpetrators of mass shootings means that for many perpetrators, the mass taking pictures occasion is meant to be a remaining act. The majority of school mass shooters die within the assault. Of the 15 mass school shooters in our database, simply seven have been apprehended. The relaxation died on the scene, practically all by suicide — the lone exception being the Robb Elementary shooter, who was shot lifeless by police.
And school shooters are likely to preempt their assaults by leaving posts, messages or movies warning of their intent.
Inspired by previous school shooters, some perpetrators are seeking fame and notoriety (opens in new tab). However, most school shooters are motivated by a generalized anger. Their path to violence includes self-hate and despair turned outward on the world, and our analysis finds they usually talk their intent to do hurt prematurely as a remaining, determined cry for help (opens in new tab). The key to stopping these tragedies is for society to be alert to these warning signs (opens in new tab) and act on them instantly.
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