Most abusers suffer major life challenge in year before mass violence, study finds

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Attackers who commit mass violence often engage in threatening or violent behavior long before an incident and often experience a major setback in the year before an attack, according to a recently released analysis from the US Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment. Centre.

“The analysis found that most abusers had experienced a significant stressor in the year following their assault, including financial, family and health issues, and that half of abusers were motivated at least in part by grievances, including problems at work , alleged personal wrongdoing, and national issues,” the report said.

Analysts from the National Center for Threat Assessment examined 173 high-casualty incidents between 2016 and 2020 that killed or injured three or more people in public or semi-public places such as places of worship, businesses and schools.

In attacks involving the use of firearms, more than 75% of perpetrators used legally obtained firearms, while nearly a quarter of those attacks involved at least one illegally obtained firearm, the report said. either through theft, straw buyers or private sellers.

The report states that while approximately 57% of abusers were white and 34% black, there is no standard demographic profile for a potential abuser, but the behavior of those prone to violence is remarkably similar.

Most of the attackers were men and had made others concerned, either through threats or distressing communications they made, changes in behavior, or acts of violence.

“Nearly half of the abusers were found to have a history of domestic violence, misogynistic behavior, or both,” the report said.

The recent shootings in California, which left 18 dead in just three days, highlight the variety of attackers and motives. The alleged shooters were 66- and 72-year-old Asian males, who would be considered outliers, according to the NTAC report.

“Community members should be encouraged to report behaviors that cause them concern for their safety or the safety of others,” the report says, noting “the increased need for community resources to address mental health needs, social isolation, substance abuse and individuals ” . crisis.”

The analysis found that most abusers had faced significant personal challenge in the year prior to their attack, including financial, family and health issues. Half of the abusers were motivated, at least in part, by grievances, including workplace issues, perceived personal wrongdoing, and domestic problems.

“Extreme or hate-based views played a prominent role in motivating one-fifth of attacks,” said the report, targeting women, police, as well as racial, religious and political groups, among others.

According to the analysis, nearly two-thirds of offenders had a criminal history, with more than a third having previously been charged with violent crimes and 41% having committed at least one incident of domestic violence.

Dr. Lina Alathari, director of the National Center for Threat Assessment, said the data from the report is crucial as communities and businesses seek ways to effectively stop mass violence.

She noted that NTAC training draws tens of thousands of participants ranging from local law enforcement to professional sports leagues and teams.

Despite clear evidence that patterns of behavior are shared and escalations are predictable, Alathari said she regularly hears about barriers to effective policy-making.

“I think we really see the challenges in terms of empowering communities with resources and also having programs in place that keep information from slipping through the cracks.” she declared.

Alathari stressed that buy-in from high-level leaders – from politicians to business owners – and the resources to respond to them is essential.

“It’s not just one person’s responsibility. In fact, the number one best practice we recommend – much of our training – involves multidisciplinary behavioral threat assessment.

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