On February 14, 2018, fourteen students and three staff members at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida were fatally shot and seventeen others were wounded, in one of the deadliest school massacres in United States’ history. The gunman Nikolas Cruz, age 19 at the time of the incident, was a former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Cruz was a troubled child and young adult who displayed aggressive and violent tendencies as early as 3-years-old. Cruz struggled in academics and attended several schools. There are reports of behavioral issues at all of the schools he attended. He was under the care of mental health professionals from age 11 until he turned age 18 and refused further services. At 2:19 p.m. on February 14, 2018, Cruz exited an Uber ride sharing service at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School armed with a rifle and several hundred rounds of ammunition concealed in a rifle bag. He entered the school through an unstaffed gate that had been opened for school dismissal and made his way towards building 12 on the North side of campus. He entered the east side of building 12 through an unlocked and unstaffed door. He made his way through all three floors firing into classrooms and hallways and killing or wounding 34 individuals. He exited building 12 and ran across campus, blending in with students evacuating. Cruz was apprehended approximately 1 hour and 16 minutes after the first shots and charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder.
Over the past few years, there has been a definitive rise in school shooting incidents – specifically ‘Active Shooter’ or ‘Rampage Shooting’ events – but while the motives may have evolved, school violence is anything but new. With captive targets, a predictable attack environment, and little to no security hurdles, schools have long been a lucrative environment for violence. Recently though, the violent trend seems to be more popular amongst those with erroneous notions of vengeance, mental instability, and those seeking copycat infamy more than the staunch ideologist typically seen in other types of violent extremism. With that in mind, this joint Washington State Fusion Center (WSFC) and Oregon TITAN Fusion Center (TITAN) assessment intends to aid law enforcement and private and public sector security in understanding the various intricacies of the new-aged active or rampage shooter, how to recognize the signs, and what current measures are being taken to help mitigate the threat.
In the year since Sandy Hook, there have been a combined total of 22 actual school attacks and disrupted plots nationwide with some of the attacks resulting in the deaths of students and school personnel. The New Jersey Regional Operations Intelligence Center (ROIC) has examined recent reporting on the Sandy Hook attack and the incidents over the last year and provides the following analysis to law enforcement, school resource officers (SROs), and administrators to assist in school security planning efforts.
A statistical analysis of school shootings released in August by the Los Angeles Joint Regional Intelligence Center (LAJRIC) studied school shootings throughout the U.S. from January 2008 to August 2013. In that five-year span, there were 85 school shootings that took place in 29 states, a majority of the country, with most states experiencing between one and three incidents over the last five years. California ranked highest with 18 incidents, followed by Michigan and Tennessee. The majority of school shootings, about 52%, took place at high schools, with the rest equally distributed between colleges/universities and elementary/middle schools.
From January 2008 to August 2013, 85 school shootings took place across the United States involving 97 attackers. Incidents analyzed met the definition of targeted school violence, including gang‐related shootings. “Targeted violence” is any incident of violence where an attacker selects a particular target prior to the violent attack. The number of incidents peaked at 29 in 2009 and have decreased to an average of 14 per year; two incidents have occurred this year to date.
The Commonwealth Critical Infrastructure Program (CCIP) analyzed school shooting incidents from 1992-2012 to identify patterns in attacker backgrounds or tactics which could assist officials. Observations are presented in summary format to allow officials to draw their own conclusions. Mitigation steps included in this document are presented to facilitate discussion and are not comprehensive or prescriptive.
This report attempts to analyze the indicators and commonalities of recent school shootings in an effort to inform public safety officials and assist in the detection and prevention of potential school shooter plots or attacks. All incidents included in this assessment occurred in the United States while classes were in session. Domestic violence shootings and gang violence were not included in an effort to differentiate between “active shooter” incidents and other acts of violence. DHS defines an “active shooter” as an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.
Some of the most tragic events in our country’s recent history have been episodes where a deviant has carried out shootings in public places. These killings take place for no other reason than to harm as many innocent people as possible. They are often unpredictable and strike in places dear to us, such as our schools, churches, and places of work. They also can occur in random public settings. The definition of an active shooter incident is when one or more subjects participate in a shooting spree, random or systematic, with intent to continuously harm others. Active shooter scenarios are incredibly dangerous and difficult because there is no criminal objective (robbery, hostagetaking) involved other than mass murder.
The purpose of this report is to provide information as it relates to the phenomenon of school firearms violence. This report provides an overview of school firearms violence, and through the examination of ATF case information, attempts have been made to possibly identify the kinds of individuals who are most likely to commit and/or plan a school firearms violence incident.
# Many offenders experienced a significant personal loss in the months leading up to the attack, such as a death, breakup, or divorce in the family.
# Many offenders engaged in repetitive viewing of violent media and were often fascinated with previous school shootings. Repeated viewing of movies depicting school shootings, such as “Zero Day” and “Elephant,” may indicate a fascination with campus attacks.
# Be aware of the subject’s online videos, blogs, and social networking activities.