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

Creating a culture

Let me start off by stating that according to the statistics, there should not be a mass shooting this week, but there is a strong possibility that one will occur next week or early in the following week. I literally hate predicting these shootings, but I feel it is more important to hate it and possibly save lives, than it is to ignore it and let people not be prepared. Now on to this weeks information!

I sometimes feel like some of my readers think that my blog is a broken record. I imagine some of them read “Blah, blah, blah, blah!”. To be honest, I do repeat many of the same themes over and over again, but I do this because so many people hear the information but it do  not out it into actions. Much like the broken record of the past, I am going to be discussing two themes that I have shared in previous blogs; “See something-Say something” and the detrimental effects that media can have on mass shootings. Instead of these being (only) my words , I am going to provide hyperlinks so that you can see with your own eyes what I am talking about.

In looking at the “See something-Say something” realm of mass shootings, many people fail to recognize the importance of saying something.  Too many times, something doesn’t seem quite right about someone, and nothing is said. Inaction in this area can lead to death and destruction! We need to make a concerted effort to report anything that does not seem kosher with the way someone is acting.

A good friend of mine, who is also a law enforcement officer in Tennessee, has a funny name for these individuals. He calls them “squirrels”. My friend Jeremy can spot a squirrel quicker than most, and he takes the appropriate actions. Even when he is acting as a law enforcement officer, he lets others in law enforcement know that he has a suspicion that one individual may become a mass shooter. This leads me to ask the question that if law enforcement shares this information when they know it, why shouldn’t we?

To show you how effective this can be, I would like to direct you to a story about two teens that stopped a school shooting.  As you might guess, I have multiple news feeds that keep me informed about mass shootings. Please read this story so you can see how the “See something-say something” campaign can prevent mass shootings.

The second issue I want to talk about is the “Contagion Effect for Mass Shooters”. I was working on a research project this past week, when I ran across a video. This video discusses the role that the media plays in mass shooters. The interview is with the researcher that undertook this research project. Please view this 24-minute long video, and become more educated on the Contagion Effect of Mass Shooters.

Until next week; humbly yours, … Mark