Santa Fe and Domestic Violence Shooters

As I sat down to write this week’s blog, I reflected on the school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas last week. I am asking all of my readers to remember to pray for everyone involved in that incident. From the students and teachers that were attacked, the family members of those attacked, the police, firefighters, and EMS personnel, and yes, the shooter too. We also need to pray that potential future events might stopped before they occur so that there is not another senseless loss of life. Details are still coming in, and the underlying factors to this horrible event are still emerging. No matter what the underlying factors are, I believe that we all can agree that this was a horrible and irrational shooting incident.

Part of preventing an incident is knowing the signs before an incident occurs. By knowing the underlying motivations and the warning signs, we are better prepared to stop it before it occurs. My research has identified five different types of mass shooters. They are:

  • Terrorist shooter
  • PTSD Shooter
  • Domestic spillover shooter
  • Mental health shooter
  • Fame and recognition shooter

While I could go in the order they are posted, I feel it would be better to start with the most prevalent. That means I will start with the Domestic Spillover Shooter. Anyone that has ever had their heart broken by a domestic partner will know that domestic issues can be devastating. Relationship problems can cause grief, anger, disappointment, shock, denial, fear, and many other feelings. To list all of the feelings that an individual could go through would be nearly impossible, but these emotions are real to the person who is suffering from a break-up. Sometimes these emotions overcome individuals to the point that they do irrational things. Whether a lapse in judgement, an uncontrolled temper, or a mental health issue, the actions that some take are frightening, and can even deadly. Watching and knowing key signs may assist the church in pre-identifying those that may act out.

It is important to note that according to statistics by the National Domestic Violence Hotline (n.d.), 24% of women and 14% of men (over the age 18) in the United States will suffer severe physical violence in their lifetime. Domestic violence affects over 12 million people per year. More frightening is that 48% of all women and men have suffered psychological abuse from their domestic partner. Additionally, 16% of women and 5% of men will be the victim of stalking in their lifetime (National Domestic Violence Hotline, n.d.).

One method of identifying whether past or current domestic abuse occurred, is to look for specific warning signs in the person who you suspect is being abused. Those signs can include physical signs of injury (such as bruising and welts), low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. You may also notice that they tend to stay isolated from family, friends, and their church family. If their abuser is present, they will tend to stay close by, so not to anger them. They may not take pride in themselves or their children, including their (or their children) physical appearance being unkempt. You may even suspect drug or alcohol abuse.

If you are looking for signs in the potential abuser, those signs can be controlling or unpredictable behavior, extreme jealousy, unrealistic expectations, or they may be verbally abusive to the victim or their children. This abuser will usually isolate their victims from others and/or make sure they are present any time the victims is near someone else. They may suffer sudden mood swings, and they may be cruel to children and/or animals. Many times, they will threaten violence to solve any problems they have, or they may blame others for their problems. In some instances, you may feel that they are a ticking time bomb, ready to go off.

When there is a break-up, or sometimes even a proposed break-up, the domestic aggressor may act out. Their targets might be those they believe led to the break-up, the victim, or the victims’ children, family, and/or friends may be their target. They may act out of anger, impulse, revenge, or from a mental breakdown. Sometimes, these individuals have the mentality “If I can’t have them, then nobody will have them”. Other times, they blame others for splitting the couple up or their domestic problems. If they mentally work themselves up, they might act out and become a mass shooter.

The common weapons used by these individuals are guns and knives. In most instances, they want to see the damage being done. This is why they will usually inflict the damage themselves. While the aggressor can be male or female, men are typically the perpetrator of mass shootings, while women typically harm or kill the individual they have an issue with. This is not to say that a woman could not, or would not, perpetrate a mass shooting, but statistically speaking they are less likely than men to commit a mass shooting.

If you see the signs of domestic abuse, or you have been told by an individual that they are being abused, you should immediately involve law enforcement. A mass shooting could occur even if they are not splitting up! The aggressor may be upset because the abused person is attending church, or even talking to someone about the couple’s problems. If you are aware of or suspect abuse and there is a split-up, then the church should be hypervigilant in watching for the abuser. It does not even matter if the abused is in hiding, the abuser may associate, even if untrue, that the church or someone in the church is responsible for the break-up.

Next week, I will discuss the Mental Health Shooter, and things to watch for with them. Until next week, be vigilant and maintain a strong situational awareness, … Mark

 

References

National Domestic Violence Hotline (n.d.). Get the facts & figures. Retrieved on May 23, 2018 from: http://www.thehotline.org/resources/statistics/

Please read this blog from beginning to end today because there is some very important information. There will be three things covered: a school shooting that was averted, my research on frequency of mass shootings, and the five types of mass shooters. The types of mass shooters will become five separate weeks of helping you to identify those that may be a threat to your church.

I am sure that most of you have heard by now that a school shooting was stopped before anyone was killed. Yesterday (5/16/2018), in the Dixon, IL, High School, shots rang out in a hallway near the gymnasium. Fortunately, nobody was shot except for the victim. Thanks to a quick acting School Resource Officer (SRO) who was near the gym at that time, this incident did not turn out tragically. Upon hearing the shots, the SRO rushed towards the shooter. According to reports, when the suspect saw the officer running towards him, he began to run away from the SRO. While running away, he turned and fired several shots at the officer. The officer returned fire and shot the suspect in the shoulder. Whether the intention was to shoot the suspect in the shoulder was on purpose or not is unknown, however it should be noted that no lives were lost at all. We thank God for this outcome, and please pray for this officer. Any time an officer has to shoot someone, it can be emotionally traumatic. He needs our prayers and God’s peace.

I also wanted to point out that I was off by a few days in predicting this shooting. The data showed that it should have happened late last week or early this week. I will be investigating why the data was off by these two days, as this may be important. Also, just for informational purposes, I will be investigating whether summer vacations at schools change the frequency of mass shootings. This research is all part of understanding the big picture when it comes to mass shootings.

Starting next week, I will be releasing some of my recent research on mass shooters through this blog. Some may wonder what this has to do with keeping churches safe, and I have an answer. By understanding who mass shooters are, and what their motivations are, we can begin to get a better insight into how to prevent mass shootings. My research has revealed five (5) distinct types of mass shooters. They are:

  • Terrorist shooters
  • PTSD shooters
  • Domestic spillover shooters
  • Mental health shooters
  • Fame and recognition shooters

Knowing what the motivation or underlying causes can help the church (and other organizations) understand what to look for. We can gain insight that someone may become a mass shooter based on specific characteristics of the suspect, or the difficulties they are facing in their life. While these are the five main categories, there can be overlap between two or more. The Venn Diagram below will help to understand the crossover.

Stay tuned to this blog for the next five weeks so that you can learn more. Until next week, stay safe and alert, … Mark

Public Safety Graduates and (separately) mass shootings in 2017

As many of you know, I teach at the graduate level for Tennessee Tech University. Last weekend, we had several students graduate with a Master of Science in Public Safety. Any time this happens, I have hope for the future. I have hope that the young students will be able to identify gaps in public safety, and because they have never been or only recently started working in the field, they will think of ways to protect the public that us old crusty’s don’t think of (because of the constraints we often see). I also am hopeful that the adult graduates who have been in the field will take the information they learned from us, and think of innovative ways to find, and mitigate, the issues that we see in public safety. These people are the future of public safety. While myself or someone else may come up with a few pieces of the puzzle, these graduates may be able to finish the puzzle on a specific issue. Seeing how bright these students are, gives me more hope for the safety of our children and grandchildren!

If you have read my blog before, you know I am a data guy. I usually dislike collecting data, but I love to look at data for insight and anomalies. While many people look at the big picture, I prefer to look at the little pieces that make up a more complete picture. I have learned that the little pieces can reveal things that we were not aware of, or that has slipped under the radar because it seemed insignificant.

Recently, the FBI came out with a not-so-surprising report on the number of mass shootings that occurred in 2016-2017, and for the most part, it is portion of the larger narrative on mass shootings. If we look over the statistics from 2016 and 2017, then compare them to the statistics of previous years, we can see a stark increase in mass shootings which are up 34%. For those of us that are daily working on this problem, or even the common person monitoring the mass shooting problem, it should be no major surprise!

The FBI began collecting data on mass shooters in 2000 and has kept track of data since. Some key takeaways from the most recent 2017 report are:

  • 50 mass shooting incidents occurred in 50 different states
  • 221 people were killed by mass shooters in 2017
  • 722 people were injured by mass shooters
  • 13 law enforcement officers were killed by mass shooters in 2017
  • 20 law enforcement officers were injured
  • All 50 of the mass shooters in 2017 were male
  • 13 mass shooters committed suicide
  • 11 were killed by police
  • 8 shooters were stopped by citizens

Of course, there is a lot more data in this report, but I think you get the idea. 2017 is acknowledged as the deadliest year of mass shootings since data has been collected. In full disclosure, some of this death and injury toll can be attributed to two major mass shooting incidents; the Las Vegas Shooting and the Sutherland Springs church shooting.

While I could go on and on about the statistics, one key statistic sticks out: Citizen intervention. It appears that in 10 of the incidents, citizens determined that they were not going down without a fight. Of those 10 incidents, four individuals without a firearm confronted or persuaded the mass shooter to stop the killing. In four incidents, individuals with firearms engaged the shooter and stopped the shooter. In the two unsuccessful attempts, one citizen with a valid firearm permit attempted to engage the shooter and died, and one who engaged the shooter with a firearm caused the shooter to go to another location.

In closing, let me remind everyone that they should maintain situational awareness at all times. Seeing that little thing that is out of place, or not quite right might save your life or many others. It might also allow you to intervene and stop the shooter before they ever start, much like is shown in this video.

Be vigilant this week, because according to statistics, another mass shooting is about to occur. Until next week, be safe and aware, … Mark