School Shooters Exhibited Unreported Warning Signs, Secret Service Study Finds

November 8, 2019 by Dan McCue
Students are evacuated by police out of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland after the shooting.

WASHINGTON – Students who have committed deadly school shootings in recent years exhibited worrisome warning signs that went unreported to authorities, a U.S. Secret Service study released Thursday says.

The report, “Protecting America’s Schools: A U.S. Secret Service Analysis of Targeted School Violence,” is the result of 20 years of analysis of these tragedies conducted by the Secret Services’ National Threat Assessment Center.

Researchers examined 41 school attacks from 2008 through 2017, and had unprecedented access to a trove of sensitive data from law enforcement including police reports, investigative files and nonpublic records.

While the center found there is no single profile that defines a student attacker or the type of school that has been targeted, it did find some commonalities.

For instance, many of the student shooters were badly bullied and had a history of disciplinary trouble.

Most bracingly however, all of the young people who carried out the 41 attacks exhibited concerning behaviors that someone observed but did not report, either out of fear, misjudging the immediacy of the situation, or believing they had dissuaded the attacker.

In most cases, the attackers communicated a prior threat to their target or communicated their intentions to carry out an attack.

In at least four cases, attackers wanted to emulate other school shootings, including those at Columbine High School in Colorado, Virginia Tech University and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

“While communities can advance many school safety measures on their own, our experience tells us that keeping schools safe requires a team effort and the combined resources of the federal, state, and local governments; school boards; law enforcement; and the public,” said Secret Service Director James Murray in the forward to the report.

“With this study, the Secret Service provides an unprecedented base of facts about school violence, as well as an updated methodology and practical guidelines for prevention,” he said. “We encourage all of our public safety partners and education partners to review the information within, and to use it to guide the best practices for maintaining a safe learning environment for all children.”

The information gleaned through the research will now be used to help train school officials and law enforcement on how to better identify students who may be planning an attack and how to stop them before they strike.

“School safety is our collective responsibility as a nation and we must remain one step ahead of tragedy,” said Dr. Lina Alathari, chief of the National Threat Assessment Center, in a written statement. “The Secret Service mission uniquely positions the agency to equip our schools with the most comprehensive intelligence in the development of prevention and threat assessment programs.”

The Center has already scheduled dozens of training sessions and presentations of the new research in communities across the country, including Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami.

The outreach is similar to the effort the Secret Service carried out following the publication of the agency’s school threat assessment model last year.

In The News

Justice Ginsburg to Lie in Repose at Supreme Court, Wednesday and Thursday
In The News
Justice Ginsburg to Lie in Repose at Supreme Court, Wednesday and Thursday
September 21, 2020
by Dan McCue

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's casket will arrive in front of the court just before 9:30 a.m. Wednesday morning and a private ceremony will take place inside the Great Hall of the court shortly thereafter. Following the private ceremony inside, Justice Ginsburg will lie in repose under... Read More

Fortune Magazine Highlights 50 Companies Changing the World
Business
Fortune Magazine Highlights 50 Companies Changing the World
September 21, 2020
by Sara Wilkerson

Fortune Magazine announced its annual “Changing the World” list of 50 companies that have tackled society’s most pressing needs and have made a positive and innovative social impact on the world. The 2020 “Changing the World” list marks Fortune’s sixth iteration of the annual list.  According... Read More

Comcast Gives Pennsylvania School Surprise Virtual Learning Boost
Education
Comcast Gives Pennsylvania School Surprise Virtual Learning Boost
September 21, 2020
by Dan McCue

Comcast gave students and teachers in a Pennsylvania school district a big surprise last week -- free Dell Laptops and a year of internet access to support virtual learning and help them overcome the coronavirus pandemic. The city of McKeesport, Pa., was recently ranked the fourth... Read More

Substitute Teachers Are in High Demand for School Districts Trying to Fill Vacancies in a Pandemic
Education
Substitute Teachers Are in High Demand for School Districts Trying to Fill Vacancies in a Pandemic

PHILADELPHIA — Dawn Pittman retired from teaching in 2013 after more than three decades. But Pittman has no plans to give up her passion — even in a pandemic. When Camden resumes in-person learning, possibly in January, she hopes to answer the call as a substitute.... Read More

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Death Will Drive Voter Turnout. Which Side Does That Help?
2020 Elections
Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Death Will Drive Voter Turnout. Which Side Does That Help?

A presidential contest that had largely been a referendum on President Trump and, in particular, his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has suddenly broadened into something more: a fight over control of the Supreme Court. Both sides claim their base will be more energized than ever... Read More

Most Americans Say Wait for Election to Replace Ginsburg
Opinion Polls
Most Americans Say Wait for Election to Replace Ginsburg

The majority of Americans, including many Republicans, said the appointment of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s successor to the U.S. Supreme Court should be left to the winner of the November presidential election, Reuters reported, citing the Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Sunday. A survey conducted Sept. 19-20 after... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top