«A Study of Active Shooter Incidents in the United States Between 2000 and 2013 September 16, 2013 Washington Navy Yard, Unclassified Washington, D.C. ...»
U.S. Department of Justice
Federal Bureau of Investigation
A Study of Active Shooter
Incidents in the United States
Between 2000 and 2013
September 16, 2013
Washington Navy Yard,
Unclassified Washington, D.C.
This publication is in the public domain. Authorization to reproduce this publication in whole or in part is granted. While
permission to reprint is not necessary, the citation should be: Blair, J. Pete, and Schweit, Katherine W. (2014). A Study of Active Shooter Incidents, 2000 - 2013. Texas State University and Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington D.C. 2014.
Special Acknowledgments are extended to several individuals who provided research and editing assistance. Particular appreciation is extended to the primary research team of Lieutenant Commander David Knoff of the California Highway Patrol, Deputy Dennis Jahnke of the Hennepin County (Minnesota) Sheriff’s Office, FBI Honors Intern Jessica Seay, and FBI Supervisory Intelligence Analyst Deborah Cryan. M. Hunter Martaindale, M.S., of the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center at Texas State University (TXST) provided critical analysis as part of the primary research team, contributing input that assisted the team in understanding the purposes and research parameters used in a previously published active shooter study released by TXST. In addition, the following employees of the FBI are recognized for their research assistance: LaTasha Houston, Della Mays-Prince, Alvin Thibodeaux, Stephanie Preshlock, and Kerry Riley. Appreciation also is extended to FBI employees Kathryn Crotts and Brian Jackson, and to Jeffrey R. McCrehan and Andrew C.
Ames for their final editing expertise.
Unclassified 2 Unclassified A Study of Active Shooter Incidents in the United States between 2000 and 2013 Acknowledgments
Law Enforcement/Security Personnel Casualties
Breakdown by location:
Military and Other Government Properties
Houses of Worship
Health Care Facilities
On the cover: An FBI evidence response team collects evidence at Building 197 at the Washington Navy Yard. A gunman killed 12 people at the base Sept. 16, 2013.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Pedro A. Rodriguez/Released)
The agreed-upon definition of an active shooter by U.S. government agencies—including the White House, U.S. Department of Justice/FBI, U.S. Department of Education, and U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency—is “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.”3 Implicit in this definition is that the subject’s criminal actions involve the use of firearms.4 For purposes of its study, the FBI extended this definition to include individuals, because some incidents involved two or more shooters. Though the federal definition includes the word “confined,” the FBI excluded this word in its study, as the term confined could omit incidents that occurred outside a building.
Whether inside or out, these incidents still posed a threat to both law enforcement and the citizens they seek to protect.5 This is not a study of mass killings or mass shootings, but rather a study of a specific type of shooting situation law enforcement and the public may face. Incidents identified in this study do not encompass all gun-related situations; therefore caution should be taken when using this information without placing it in context. Specifically, shootings that resulted from gang or drug violence—pervasive, long-tracked, criminal acts that could also affect the public— were not included in this study. In addition, other gun-related shootings were not included when those incidents appeared generally not to have put others in peril (e.g., the accidental discharge of a firearm in a school building or a person who chose to publicly commit suicide in a parking lot). The study does not encompass all mass killings or shootings in public places and therefore is limited in its scope.6 Nonetheless, it was undertaken to provide clarity and data of value to both law enforcement and citizens as they seek to stop these threats and save lives during active shooter incidents.7 As a result, the FBI identified 160 active shooter incidents that occurred in the United States between 2000 and 2013.8 Though additional active shooter incidents may have occurred during this time period, the FBI is confident this research captured the vast majority of incidents falling within the search criteria. To gather information for this study, researchers relied on official police records (where available), FBI records, and open sources.9 The time span researched was intended to provide substantive results to aid in preparedness and response efforts. This study is not intended to explore all facets of active shooter incidents, but rather is intended to provide a baseline to guide federal, state, tribal, and campus law enforcement along with other first responders, corporations, educators, and the general public to a better understanding of active shooter incidents.
3 White House, http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/developing_eops_for_houses_of_worship_final.pdf; Department of Justice/ FBI, http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cirg/active-shooter-and-mass-casualty-incidents; Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency, http://www.dhs.gov/active-shooter-preparedness and http://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/33597; Department of Education, http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oese/oshs/rems-k-12-guide.pdf.
4 Incidents involving only knives, vehicles, and other weapons were not part of this study.
5 See Appendix B for the full methodology used to select incidents.
6 Other private and public entities have studied mass casualty incidents, murder rates, and school or workplace violence. (e.g., Campus Attacks:
Targeted Violence Affecting Institutions of Higher Education, a joint publication of U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Department of Education, and Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2010, http://rems.ed.gov/docs/CampusAttacks_201004.pdf).
7 Limited details on the shooters are included in this study. In 2015, the FBI Behavioral Threat Assessment Center will research shooter pre-attack behavioral indicators with a focus on findings that will enhance prevention methods.
8 See Appendix A for a summary of incidents examined in this study.
9 Researchers relied on 104 police department records, after action reports, shooting commission reports, open sources, and FBI resources.
A handful of those identified as “wounded” were not injured by gunfire but rather suffered injuries incidental to the event, such as being hit by flying objects/shattered glass or * falling while running. This does not account for all those wounded in this fashion or any mental or emotional trauma that resulted in potential medical treatment.
10 All percentages are rounded to the nearest tenth
CASUALTIES■ Casualties (victims killed and wounded) totaled 1,043. The individual shooters are not included in this total.
■ A total of 486 individuals were killed.
■ A total of 557 individuals were wounded.11 ■ In 64 incidents (40.0%), the crime would have fallen within the federal definition of “mass killing”—defined as “three or more” killed—under the new federal statute.
INCIDENTS WITH THE HIGHEST CASUALTY COUNTS:■ Cinemark Century 16 Theater in Aurora, Colorado:
70 (12 killed, 58 wounded), July 20, 2012.
■ Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia:
49 (32 killed, 17 wounded), April 16, 2007.12 ■ Ft. Hood Soldier Readiness Processing Center in Ft. Hood, Texas:
45 (13 killed, 32 wounded), November 5, 2009.
■ Sandy Hook Elementary School and a residence in Newtown, Connecticut:
29 (27 killed, 2 wounded), December 14, 2012.
SHOOTERS■ All but 2 incidents involved a single shooter.13 ■ In at least 9 incidents, the shooter first shot and killed a family member(s) in a residence before moving to a more public location to continue shooting.14 ■ In at least 6 incidents, the shooters were female.15 ■ In 64 incidents (40.0%), the shooters committed suicide; 54 shooters did so at the scene of the crime.
■ At least 5 shooters from 4 incidents remain at large.16 11 A handful of those counted as wounded were not injured by gunfire but rather suffered injuries incidental to the event, such as being hit by flying objects/shattered glass, or falling while running. These were included in the casualty count when research may not have easily allowed for the type of injury to be discerned. This does not account for all those wounded in this fashion, to include those suffering any mental or emotional trauma that resulted in potential medical treatment.
12 Six additional students were injured after they climbed out of a second floor window in Norris Hall but are not included in the study’s tally of those wounded because they could be easily discerned from those wounded by the shooter.
13 House Party in South Jamaica, New York, August 27, 2011; Streets of Tulsa, Oklahoma, April 6, 2012. (See Appendix A).
14 Amko Trading Store, January 9, 2001; Red Lake High School, March 21, 2005; Orange High School and Residence, August 30 2006; Residence, Latah County Courthouse, and First Presbyterian Church, May 19, 2007; Coffee and Geneva Counties, Alabama, March 10, 2009; Gainesville, Florida, October 4, 2010; Sandy Hook Elementary School and Residence, December 14, 2012; Jacksonville, North Carolina, and Brady, Texas, May 26, 2013; Santa Monica College and Residence, June 7, 2013.
15 Laidlaw Transit Services Maintenance Yard, April 23, 2001; Santa Barbara U.S. Postal Processing and Distribution Center, January 30, 2006; Louisiana Technical College, February 8, 2008; Shelby Center, University of Alabama, February 12, 2010; Publix Super Market, March 30, 2010; Kraft Foods Factory, September 9, 2010.
16 Burger King and Huddle House, November 22, 2005; Club LT Tranz, July 25, 2009; Washington, D.C. Department of Public Works, October 13, 2010;
House Party in South Jamaica, New York, August 27, 2011.
Unclassified 7 Unclassified Findings In this study, the FBI identified 160 active shooter incidents, noting they occurred in small and large towns, in urban and rural areas, and in 40 of 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Though incidents occurred primarily in commerce and educational environments (70.0%), they also occurred on city streets, on military and other government properties, and in private residences, health care facilities, and houses of worship. The shooters victimized young and old, male and female, family members, and people of all races, cultures, and religions.
The findings establish an increasing frequency of incidents annually. During the first 7 years included in the study, an average of 6.4 incidents occurred annually. In the last 7 years of the study, that average increased to 16.4 incidents annually. This trend reinforces the need to remain vigilant regarding prevention efforts and for law enforcement to aggressively train to better respond to—and help communities recover from—active shooter incidents.
The findings also reflect the damage that can occur in a matter of minutes. In 63 incidents where the duration of the incident could be ascertained, 44 (70%) of 63 incidents ended in 5 minutes or less, with 23 ending in 2 minutes or less. Even when law enforcement was present or able to respond within minutes, civilians often had to make life and death decisions, and, therefore, should be engaged in training and discussions on decisions they may face.17 17 In 6 incidents (and, in addition, at least 4 schools), officers were on the scene when the shooting began.
As expected, therefore, many incidents ended before police arrived.18 Of the 160 incidents, at least 107 (66.9%) ended before police arrived and could engage the shooter, either because a citizen intervened, the shooter fled, or the shooter committed suicide or was killed by someone at the scene.
Casualties A total of 1,043 casualties occurred during the incidents included in this study (486 killed, 557 wounded). If a shooter died as a result of the incident, that individual was not included in the casualty totals. In addition, a small number of those identified as wounded were not injured by gunfire but rather suffered injuries incidental to the event, such as being hit by flying objects/shattered glass or falling while running. For the purposes of this study, the FBI did not seek to isolate the exact number of individuals that fell into this category, when research did not allow for that type of injury to be easily discerned.
The median number of individuals killed in each incident was 2, and the median number of individuals wounded in each incident was 2.
The FBI found that 64 incidents (40.0%) would have been categorized as falling within the new federal definition of “mass killing,” which is defined as “three or more killings in a single incident.”19 18 According to the 2007 National Crime Victimization Survey, 53.4% of the time, law enforcement was able to respond to a reported violent crime in less than 10 minutes. Bureau of Justice, National Crime Victimization Survey, Criminal Victimization in the United States, 2007 Statistical Tables, February 2010.
19 Investigative Assistance for Violent Crimes Act of 2012, 28 USC 530C(b)(1)(M)(i).
Unclassified 9 Unclassified At least 25 (15.6%) of the 160 incidents involved shootings at more than one location.