Monthly Archives: April 2019

NEW A Comprehensive Review Of 30 Years of School Shootings

National School Safety Taskforce

A comprehensive review of nearly three dozen mass shootings, including Columbine, reveals some notable similarities

School shooters typically plan their attacks weeks or months in advance, usually telling someone or hinting at coming violence. Most feel bullied or left out and are seeking revenge. Many have easy access to guns and are fascinated by mass shooters. Many are suicidal or ready to die during their attacks.

Those are the findings of a Wall Street Journal analysis of information about nearly three dozen mass shootings that have taken place at schools since 1990. The deadly shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado, which occurred 20 years ago Saturday, was one of them.

School Shooters

Exhibit Similar

Behavior Displayed trait 

Did not display trait

PLANNED IN ADVANCE, BULLIED, SOUGHT REVENGE, EASY ACCESS TO GUNS, TOLD SOMEONE, SUICIDAL SHARED

5 TRAITS Eric Harris Dylan Klebold Caleb Sharpe James Rouse Jesse Osborne Thomas Solomon Jr. Eric Houston Evan Ramsey Charles Williams Jaylen Fryberg

SHARED 4 TRAITS Mitchell Johnson Andrew Golden Barry Loukaitis Luke Woodham Jose Reyes Asa Coon Charles Roberts Kipland Kinkel Jeffrey Weise

SHARED 3 TRAITS Gabriel Parker Jason Hoffman Adam Lanza Nikolas Cruz Dimitrios Pagourtzis Kenneth Bartley Jr. Kevin Janson Neal Keith A. Ledeger

SHARED 2 TRAITS Thomas Lane III Michael Carneal Steven Williams James Tate Cedric Anderson Kevin Newman

SHARED 1 TRAIT Kenneth Wolford unnamed 15-year-old unnamed 16-year-old

NO DATA AVAILABLE unnamed 12-year-old Dedrick Dashaun Nelson Rakish Jenkins

The Journal reviewed information made public by courts or law-enforcement agencies about school shootings that left three or more victims killed or injured. The material included 22 hours of video, 108 minutes of audio and about 10,000 pages of documents—text messages, journals, court records and transcripts of police interviews.

The shooters, 39 in all, left 116 dead and 229 injured. Last year, 77 people in the U.S. died or were injured in mass school shootings that left three or more victims, more than in any other year in the Center for Homeland Defense and Security’s statistics, which go back to 1970.

The Journal’s analysis of information about the 39 shooters revealed many common elements.

At least 34 of 39planned the attack in advance

In the days before 15-year-old Jaylen Fryberg killed four students at Marysville Pilchuck High School in Marysville, Wash., on Oct. 24, 2014, he engaged in ominous text-message exchanges with an ex-girlfriend.

Text messages between Jaylen Fryberg and his ex-girlfriend

  • Just please talk me out of this…
  • The guns in my hand..
  • Please….

Jaylen

  • Jay

Jaylen’s ex-girlfriend

  • What.

Jaylen

Source: Snohomish County Multiple Agency Response Team

Two days before the rampage, he texted her: “I set the date.”

Moments before the first shot, he sent a message to members of his family with details for his funeral and an apology to some parents of students he planned to kill. “I want to be fully dressed in Camo in my casket,” it said in part.

Within two minutes, the first 911 calls come from the school. Fryberg had invited three friends and two of his cousins to sit with him at a table in the lunchroom. He shot each of them in the head. Four of them died. Then he killed himself.

There is considerable evidence that Nikolas Cruz, too, did a lot of planning before the school shooting on Feb. 14, 2018, that left 17 dead in Parkland, Fla.

“Hello. My name is Nick and I’m gonna be the next school shooter of 2018,” he said in a cellphone video three days before the attack. “My goal is at least 20 people with an AR-15 and a couple tracer rounds.”“It’s gonna be a big event. You’re all going to die.”—Nikolas Cruz

Source: 17th Judicial Circuit Court, Broward County, Fla.

Cruz’s cellphone content and search history indicate he researched shooting people months before the attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. The month before the shooting, he made a cellphone note to himself about a “basketball court full of targets.” One day later, he said in another note, “Everything and everyone is happy except for me I want to kill people but I don’t know how I can do it.” The day of the shooting, his internet activity included a search on “school shooter.”

More than a month before the shooting, an unidentified woman had called an FBI tip line to warn about Cruz’s professed desire to kill people and his disturbing social-media posts, saying she worried he would shoot up a school. The FBI didn’t follow up on the tip.“I just want to, you know, get it off my chest in case something does happen and I do believe something’s going to happen, but…—unidentified woman tipping off the FBI about Nikolas Cruz

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation

A state safety commission later found that at least 30 people knew of Cruz’s troubling behavior before the shooting, and they either didn’t report it or their reports weren’t acted upon.

Writings by school shooters recovered by law-enforcement officials.

Source: Courts, law enforcement agencies

At least 21 of 39 felt bullied

Twelve-year-old Jose Reyes left behind two letters in his backpack after a 2013 attack at Sparks Middle School in Sparks, Nev., that left two students injured and a teacher dead. He also killed himself.

In a letter to teachers and students, he said he was seeking revenge for the mean things they had said, and that “today is the day when I kill you.”

Source: Sparks Police Department, Sparks, Nev.

TRANSCRIPTION

Dear teachers and students today is the day
when I kill you bastards for the embarressment
that you did. You say mean things in school.
That I’m gay, that I’m lazy. Stupid, idiot,
and also say that I pee my pants and also
stealing my money. Well that all ends.
Today I will get revenage on the students and
teachers for ruinning my life. Today I will
bring a god damn pistol and rifle to shoot you
and see how you like it when someone making
fun of you. Once I kill you your life will
be noting but nightmare and bad dreams.
I don’t care if I have alots of bullets to
shoot all of you cause I’m going to die tring on
my last stand. And right now this school will
now come to an end and your death will
be rising when I shoot you. Have a great
death at school.

In 1997, 16-year-old Evan Ramsey entered Bethel Regional High School in Bethel, Alaska, with a shotgun hidden under his jacket. He walked into a common area and opened fire, killing one student and injuring two others. He continued on to the main office, where he shot the principal, Ronald Edwards, who died in his office.

A note found in his bedroom after the attack indicated he was seeking revenge against the principal and others. It said he believed he would die after the attack. He lived.

A note found in school shooter Evan Ramsey’s bedroom.

Source: Court of Appeals, State of Alaska

At least 22 of 39told someone or hinted at plans

Many of the shooters told someone or hinted at their plans, either in conversations with friends or in online communications, in some cases in an effort to keep friends safe. In 1998, 13-year-old Mitchell Johnson and 11-year-old Andrew Golden killed five and injured 10 at Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Ark. In a later deposition, Johnson said he had warned a couple of people the day before the shooting “please don’t come to school” the next day.

In 2016, 14-year-old home-schooler Jesse Osborne took a gun from his father’s nightstand and shot him dead. Then, after kissing his pets, he drove his father’s truck to Townville Elementary School in Townville, S.C., where he killed one person and injured three.

He told the police that a group of people from various countries had encouraged his plan in Instagram exchanges.

Instagram exchange between school shooter Jesse Osborne and an unnamed person.

  • Should i shoot up my elementary school or my middle school
  • The middle school has tons of cops
  • The elementry doesnt
  • And the elementry school is 4 mins away from my house
  • The middle schools 1 hr away
  • Elementary those **** are just disgusting little kids who grow up to be little **** when they’re older
  • Yep thats what i was thinking
  • And yeah it’s easier to go to the closest

Source: WYFF-TV, Greenville, S.C.

At least 26 of 39had easy access to guns

The Journal analysis found school shooters mostly used guns owned by family members.

Police found a large number of firearms in the home that Adam Lanza shared with his mother, whom he killed before killing 26 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in 2012. The socially isolated 20-year-old, who had been diagnosed with mental illness, had spent time online researching school shootings, including downloading the investigation of the Columbine attack. He kept a detailed spreadsheet on killers, sorted in order of the number killed.

School shooter Adam Lanza kept a spreadsheet of mass killers.

Source: Connecticut State Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection

In the home where Kipland Kinkel lived with his parents, police found a large collection of guns and knives, and ingredients for making explosive devices. The 15-year-old, who was diagnosed with mental-health problems, first killed his parents, then killed two people and injured 26 in a rampage at Thurston High School in Springfield, Ore., in May 1998.

In an interview with a police detective after the shooting, he said that he got his weapons from home.

Kipland Kinkel’s Confession to Police

  • Okay….So your dad has guns, right?
  • Yes.
  • And where does he keep his guns?
  • He usually keeps them in his tennis locker at the swim and tennis club. But we could always shoot it once in awhile and so they were home

Source: Springfield Police Department, Springfield, Ore.

At least 22 of 39felt suicidal

Eric Houston knew it was possible he would die in a 1992 attack on his former school, Lindhurst High School in Olivehurst, Calif. A note was found in the 20-year-old’s bedroom after he stormed the school, killing four and wounding several others. “If I die today please bury me somewhere beautiful,” he wrote. He lived, as did 72% of shooters in the incidents reviewed by the Journal.

In February 2012, Thomas Lane, then 17, went on a shooting rampage in the cafeteria of Chardon High School in Chardon, Ohio, killing three students and injuring three others. Afterward, he sat in a ditch about a mile away and loaded a gun to kill himself. He didn’t do it.

Nick Walczak had limped from the cafeteria with three gunshot wounds, only to be chased down by Lane and shot in the back. The last shot left him paralyzed.

“None of us were ever mean to him,” Mr. Walczak says of the shooter. “If you had asked me a day before, I would have told you that he’s a good kid.”

Methodology: Planned in advance indicates the shooter planned the attack well in advance, including plotting to get weapons, researching other shooters, setting a date for the attack or writing a letter explaining the motive for the attack. Bullied, sought revenge indicates the shooter felt bullied or sought revenge for a perceived wrong. Easy access to guns indicates the shooter knew where unsecured guns were in the house, had access to home gun safes or purchased the guns themselves. Told someone indicates the shooter told at least one person about the coming attack, or alluded to it, verbally or in writings, text messages, video recordings or on social media. Suicidal indicates the shooter planned to commit suicide after the attack or be killed by police.

By Tawnell D. Hobbs WSJ

The truth about the ‘global white extremist threat’

No Jews

Last week, The New York Times featured an illustrated timeline of “white extremist” killings over the last nine years. According to the Times, the record shows “an informal global network of white extremists whose violent attacks are occurring with greater frequency in the West.”

The idea that white supremacist violence is a growing global threat has gained more currency recently, notably in the wake of the ghastly Christchurch mosque massacre. New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for instance, asserted that “White supremacists committed the largest # of extremist killings in 2017.”

No one will deny that people who kill in the name of white supremacy commit evil, but is it true that white extremists are sowing a growing amount of worldwide mayhem? The evidence suggests otherwise.

Even a superficial glance at the record indicates that of the nearly 20,000 people killed in thousands of extremist killings in 2017, white supremacists were responsible for very few.

The worst terrorist event of 2017, according to the State Department, was the explosion of a truck bomb in Somalia, which killed more than 580 people. This act is believed to have been the work of Al-Shabaab, which was responsible for 97 percent of the 370 instances of extremist killings in Somalia in 2017, accounting for about 1,400 deaths.

The deadliest extremist attack in Egypt’s history took place in 2017, when ISIS-Sinai terrorists converged on a mosque and slaughtered 312 people when they came outside.

White nationalists committed none of the above violent acts, and that’s nothing remarkable: Almost all the world’s extremist violence is concentrated in a handful of regions, where very few white people live. In areas where whites do live (America, Canada, Europe and Australia/New Zealand), white nationalists do indeed perpetrate a significant proportion of the relatively uncommon acts of extremist violence.

Again, this is unsurprising, because whites make up the overwhelming majority of the population there.

The New York Times timeline of “white extremist” murders covers nine years and 15 incidents, bookended by the heinous and indisputably racist attacks in Norway (in 2011) and Christchurch. Some of the most prominent killings among the remaining 13 incidents, though, resist categorization as acts of white racial terror.

Ali Sonboly, the son of Iranian Shiite Muslim immigrants and visibly a racial minority, carried out the 2016 Munich mall shooting. The 2016 Umpqua Community College shooting was carried out by a self-identified “mixed-race” man, as was the 2014 Isla Vista massacre, whose perpetrator believed that being half-Chinese made him unattractive to women.

The 2018 Toronto van massacre was perpetrated by a white man who declared that he was part of an “Incel Rebellion” against the “Chads and Stacys” of the world — in other words, he was angry that he could not get a girlfriend and was committed to overthrowing the “beautiful people.” The Times’ inclusion of these four incidents calls into question the value of its diagnosis of “white extremist killers.”

When Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that white supremacists were responsible for the most extremist killings of 2017, she was obviously wrong (if she meant worldwide, which is unclear from her tweet). There were at least 8,500 such incidents worldwide that year, and white supremacists accounted for perhaps 15 or 20 of them, depending how you count.

Perhaps Ocasio-Cortez was thinking of the US and relying on an Anti-Defamation League report, “Murder and Extremism in the United States in 2017.” According to the ADL, 34 people were killed as a result of extremist violence that year in the United States, eight of them by Sayfullo Saipov on Halloween in lower Manhattan. Another victim was Heather Heyer, who was run over by James Fields during the Charlottesville protests.

Heyer’s killing can legitimately be labeled an act of white-nationalist violence, as Fields was an open admirer of Hitler and the Confederacy. But the other murders that the ADL counts as “extremist-related” are fuzzy, even by the ADL’s standards.

For instance, Frank Ancona, a Klan member from Missouri, was killed in a domestic dispute by his wife, also a Klan member.

The Wall Street Journal, citing the US Extremist Crime Database, reports that the frequency of violent hate crime in the United States has been about the same for 50 years.

White supremacy is insane and immoral, and it may be a significant threat. But it doesn’t account for anywhere near the preponderance of global extremist violence, though one might get a different impression from recent coverage.

Seth Barron is associate editor of the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal, from which this column is adapted.

Are Far-Right Extremist Crimes Rising? No

Truth Hate Crimes in the U.S.

Recently, President Trump said he doesn’t believe white nationalism is a growing problem—and at home in the U.S., he’s right.

The problem isn’t growing. It’s never subsided.

“There has been a steady rate of far-right extreme crimes since at least 1970, when we started collecting data,” said Michael Jensen, a senior researcher at START, the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland.  “What has changed is the emphasis on reporting far-right extremism. It produces the perception that there is a new increase. It’s not true.”

Strictly speaking, far-right terrorism has gone up, Dr. Jensen said—eight fatal attacks occurred in 2014 and seven in 2017 after decades of no more than three a year—but the broader class of extremist crimes, which includes terrorism, hate crimes and mixed motive crimes, has not.

START’s Global Terrorism Database, used to produce the State Department’s annual terrorism report for Congress, documents 180,000 attacks world-wide from 1970 forward.

Because it includes only premeditated attacks committed with the explicit purpose of promoting an ideology, its numbers are smaller than some other data sets.

One of the most sweeping is the U.S. Extremist Crime Database, a collection of violent and financial crimes committed by political extremists in the U.S. from 1990 forward—and it’s the persistence of far-right ideology this data reflects that alarms experts.

“The most striking thing is the resilience of the threat,” said Joshua D. Freilich, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York and co-director of the Extremist Crime Database. “It’s consistent in terms of the level of activity.”

Since 1990, far-right extremists have killed 477 people in 214 attacks in the U.S., according to the crime data. A majority of the assaults targeted minorities, with 241 people dying in 170 attacks. (In the same period, the Global Terrorism Database records 31 far-right attacks with one or more deaths.)History of Violence Fatal events in the U.S., by attacker typeSource: Joshua D. Freilich, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

“We haven’t seen a year since 1990 with no far-right homicides,” said Jeff Gruenewald, a professor at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis who studies domestic terrorism and extremism.

U.S. crimes by Islamist extremists have tended to be deadlier than far-right crimes, but they have also been more sporadic. Since 1990, Islamist extremists have conducted 50 assaults killing 3,148 people, a figure that includes 2,997 9/11 victims.

Homicides by far-left extremists, whose attacks peaked in the 1970s, are now uncommon.

The crime database, which is funded by the Department of Homeland Security, assembles records from legal documents, news accounts, watchdog groups and other publicly available sources. To be included, the crimes must have been committed for ideological reasons.

The database defines far-right extremists as fiercely nationalistic; anti-global; suspicious of federal authority; reverent of individual liberties, especially the right to own guns and be free of taxes; believing in conspiracy theories; and, in some cases, antagonistic toward specific racial or religious groups. The mainstream conservative movement and the mainstream Christian right are not included.

Islamist extremists are defined as rejecting the traditional Muslim respect for Christians and Jews; believing Islamic law should be forcibly implemented; believing the U.S. supports the humiliation of Islam; holding all Americans responsible for government actions; and endorsing violence against those they deem corrupt.

Based on these definitions, the crime database includes the 2015 San Bernardino, Calif., shooting, where a married couple killed 14 county employees at a holiday gathering after one spouse pledged allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State terrorist group on Facebook.

It also includes the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that occurred when an antigovernment militant detonated a truck packed with explosives outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, killing 168 people.

But it excludes the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, where a gunman killed 58 people at an outdoor music festival, because there was no clear evidence that ideology motivated the killer.

The Global Terrorism Database treats each of these events the same way. But it leaves out unpremeditated hate crimes such as the 1998 murder of James Byrd Jr., a black man who was chained behind a truck and dragged for 2 miles by three white supremacists.

A third data set, Profiles of Individual Radicalization in the United States, or PIRUS, examines extremists in an effort to deduce when, and how, they were radicalized.

The data, which is also assembled by START, includes 2,148 violent and nonviolent individuals who committed ideologically motivated crimes in the U.S. or who associated with domestic or foreign extremist organizations from 1948 through 2017.

Far-right extremists are the largest ideological group in the database, accounting for 43% of the entries. Islamists account for 23%.

PIRUS shows radicalization occurring in waves. The latest wave of far-right radicalization began in the 1980s and continues today.

“It’s not a brand new thing,” Dr. Jensen said. “It’s certainly a very real national security concern right now, but it’s something we’ve dealt with for quite some time.”

By Jo Craven McGinty