The Profile of a Mass Shooter: Warning Signs

I travel all over the United States speaking at conferences, training staff at schools and working with local law enforcement agencies. I also meet with politicians in hopes of changing policy to keep our schools safer and help ensure our educators, counselors and first responders know how to recognize the signs of a mass shooter before it happens.

How we define a mass shooting is:

  • Incidents occurring in relatively public places
  • Involving four or more deaths—not including the shooter(s)
  • Gunmen who select victims somewhat indiscriminately
  • The violence is not a means to an end—the gunmen do not pursue criminal profit or kill in the name of terrorist ideologies

Although profiling them can be a lengthy process, here are some warning signs to look out for:

  • Consumed with rage/envy
  • Past violent tendencies (people or animals)
  • Over controlling or absent parents
  • Self-centered/lack of compassion/apathetic
  • Intelligent/quietly manipulative
  • 50% have IEP/504 plan
  • 90% male
  • Obsessed with violent movies or video games

Escalated WARNING sings include:

  • Obsession with weapons—posting on social media
  • Warrior mentality
  • Change in appearance (black clothing, trench coat, withdrawn)
  • An event that has triggered them

So you know a friend, classmate, student or family member who may be displaying some of these warning signs and behaviors, but you don’t want to cause any alarm—what do you do?

Document what you see and how you feel when they are around (remember—trust your instincts!!). Be willing to contact the parent to see if anything is going on at home. You can also confidentially call CPS or your local non-emergency law enforcement and let them know what you have observed. Just do something!

If you are an educator, tell the principal or school counselor.

If you are a concerned citizen feel free to call us at TLS anytime. This is what we do and we are happy to come out and train, assess or help in any way.

If you are a parent and your child is newly on an SSRI (anti-depressant) and they are acting more violent, have suicidal or homicidal thoughts, or are more depressed or violent on the new medication, then your child may be COMT positive and need a blood test and a new prescription. Ask your doctor to have him/her tested and do not ignore these symptoms.

Whatever you encounter or feel instinctively, do not ignore it. The parents and educators I talk to that have been involved in mass shooting scenarios all say these individuals showed signs, but they did not know what to do or who to call. In the least, call me. I can direct you to the right place and get that student or individual the help they need and possibly save lives. It only takes one person to be the difference.

If you are interested in us coming to your group, school, church or organization to present our full 90-minute presentation on “The Profile of a Mass Shooter”, do not hesitate to call or email.

It truly takes a community and we are here to serve. Keep fighting the good fight!

–Dr. B

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