AP Photograph/Dario Lopez-Mills
When the Columbine Excessive Faculty bloodbath passed off in 1999 it was seen as a watershed second in america – the worst mass taking pictures at a college within the nation’s historical past.
Now, it ranks fourth. The three college shootings to surpass its demise toll of 13 – 12 college students, one instructor – have all taken place throughout the final decade: 2012’s Sandy Hook Elementary assault, by which a gunman killed 26 kids and college employees; the 2018 taking pictures at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Excessive Faculty in Parkland, Florida, which claimed the lives of 17 folks; and now the Robb Elementary Faculty assault in Uvalde, Texas, the place on Could 24, 2022, at the very least 19 kids and two adults had been murdered.
We’re criminologists who research the life histories of public mass shooters within the U.S. As a part of that analysis, we constructed a complete database of mass public shootings utilizing public knowledge, with the shooters coded on over 200 totally different variables, together with location and racial profile. For the needs of our database, mass public shootings are outlined as incidents by which 4 or extra victims are murdered with at the very least a kind of homicides happening in a public location and with no connection to underlying legal exercise, corresponding to gangs or medicine.
Our database reveals that since 1966, when our database timeline begins, there have been 13 such shootings at faculties throughout the U.S – the primary in Stockton, California, in 1989.
4 of these shootings – together with the one at Robb Elementary Faculty – concerned a killing at one other location, at all times a member of the family at a residence. The newest perpetrator shot his grandmother previous to going to the college in Uvalde.
The vast majority of mass college shootings had been carried out by a lone gunman, with simply two – Columbine and the 1998 taking pictures at Westside Faculty in Jonesboro, Arkansas – carried out by two gunmen. In all, some 146 folks had been killed within the assaults and at the very least 182 victims injured.
The selection of “gunmen” to explain the perpetrators is correct – the entire mass college shootings in our database had been carried out by males or boys. And the typical age of these concerned in finishing up the assaults was 18.
This suits with the image that has emerged of the shooter within the Robb Elementary Faculty assault. He turned 18 simply days in the past and reportedly bought two military-style weapons. It’s believed that the shooter used one miltary-style weapon within the assault, authorities stated Could 25, 2022.
Police have but to launch key info on the shooter, together with what motivated him to kill the youngsters and adults at Robb Elementary Faculty. The image of the shooter that has emerged conforms to the profile we have now constructed up from previous perpetrators in some methods, however diverges in others.
We all know that the majority college shooters have a connection to the college they aim. Twelve of the 14 college shooters in our database previous to the newest assault in Texas had been both present or former college students of the college. Any prior connection between the most recent shooter and Robb Elementary Faculty has not been launched to the general public.
Our analysis and dozens of interviews with incarcerated perpetrators of mass shootings means that for many perpetrators, the mass taking pictures occasion is meant to be a remaining act. The vast majority of college mass shooters die within the assault. Of the 15 mass college shooters in our database, simply seven had been apprehended. The remainder died on the scene, almost all by suicide – the lone exception being the Robb Elementary shooter, who was shot useless by police.
And college shooters are likely to preempt their assaults by leaving posts, messages or movies warning of their intent.
Impressed by previous college shooters, some perpetrators are looking for fame and notoriety. Nevertheless, most college 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 typically talk their intent to do hurt prematurely as a remaining, determined cry for assist. The important thing to stopping these tragedies is for society to be alert to those warning indicators and act on them instantly.
Editor’s observe: This text has been up to date to right the yr of the 1998 taking pictures at Westside Faculty in Jonesboro, Arkansas
James Densley receives funding from the Nationwide Institute of Justice.
Jillian Peterson receives funding from the Nationwide Institute of Justice