The FBI's just-released “Study of Active Shooter Incidents in the United States Between 2000 and 2013” reports that active shooter incidents are becoming more frequent. The first seven years of the study show an average of 6.4 incidents annually, while the last seven years show 16.4 incidents annually.
The Bureau released a study of 160 active shooter incidents that occurred between 2000 and 2013 throughout the U.S. These incidents resulted in a total of 1,043 casualties (486 killed, 557 wounded—excluding the shooters).
An active shooter incident is when an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area. Implicit in this definition is that the subject’s criminal actions involve the use of firearms (excluding shootings related to gang or drug violence).
The report includes the shootings that occurred at Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook Elementary School, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Fort Hood, the Aurora (Colorado) Cinemark Century 16 movie theater, the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, and the Washington Navy Yard, as well as numerous other tragic shootings.
- All but six of the 160 incidents involved male shooters (and only two involved more than one shooter).
- More than half of the incidents—90 shootings—ended on the shooter’s initiative (i.e., suicide, fleeing), while 21 incidents ended after unarmed citizens successfully restrained the shooter.
- In 21 of the 45 incidents where law enforcement had to engage the shooter to end the threat, nine officers were killed and 28 were wounded.
- The largest percentage of incidents—45.6 percent—took place in a commercial environment (73 incidents), followed by 24.3 percent that took place in an educational environment (39 incidents). The remaining incidents occurred at the other location types specified in the study—open spaces, military and other government properties, residential properties, houses of worship, and health care facilities.
The information contained in this study can benefit anyone who could potentially be in an active shooter situation—like emergency personnel, employees of retail corporations and other businesses, educators and students, government and military personnel and members of the general public—by giving them a better understanding of how these incidents play out.
The FBI researched possible active shooter incidents in the U.S. using official police records, after action reports, and shooting commission documents as well as FBI resources and open source information.
Because so many of these incidents unfold so rapidly, Special Agent Katherine Schweit—who heads the FBI’s Active Shooter Initiative—says she hopes the study “demonstrates the need not only for enhanced preparation on the part of law enforcement and other first responders, but also for civilians to be engaged in discussions and training on decisions they’d have to make in an active shooter situation.”
Using the results of this study, the Bureau’s behavioral analysis experts will now delve deeper into why these shooters did what they did in an effort to help strengthen prevention efforts around the country.