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What We Have Learned From School Shootings: Behavioral Indicators Of Violent Offenders & How To React To These Incidents Thomas A. Petee Auburn University.

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Presentation on theme: "What We Have Learned From School Shootings: Behavioral Indicators Of Violent Offenders & How To React To These Incidents Thomas A. Petee Auburn University."— Presentation transcript:

1 What We Have Learned From School Shootings: Behavioral Indicators Of Violent Offenders & How To React To These Incidents Thomas A. Petee Auburn University Montgomery Center for Government & Public Affairs


3  Incidents are not random  Most offenders contemplate, plan, and prepare for their attacks  Most offenders discuss their plans with others before the attack


5 False: A violent outburst can be better characterized as the result of a “slow burn”… an accumulation of unresolved personal problems that can or have gone on for years.

6 Ideation Planning Acquisition Implementation Adapted from Deisinger


8  Expressing a desire or intent to harm others  Open disobedience of policies & procedures  Sending violent notes  Making suicidal threats/gestures  Acting out anger such as shouting, throwing or pushing objects, slamming doors, punching walls


10 In terms of immediate danger, a threat usually indicates a choice on the part of the perpetrator not to take direct violent action -- however, it does not discount future violent behavior

11 EXTERNALINTERNAL  Spillover Crime  Terrorism  Predator  Deranged Stranger  Students  Disgruntled Faculty/Staff  Parent  Affiliated Others

12 External threats are varied in terms of motivation, characteristics, and circumstances. Consequently, they are harder to anticipate and predict.


14  Lack of flexibility  Chronic anger issues  History of depression  Awareness of and identification with other violent offenders  Feared by students  Prior history of bullying/ or being bullied  Poor self-image  Blaming others  Weapons orientation  Responds poorly to criticism  Unreasonable expectations  Recent events of public violence in the media (copycat)

15  Threats by a disgruntled employee are very similar to other volatile social situations  Disgruntled employees often have similar problems outside of the work environment  Loss of dignity by the disgruntled employee may result in violence

16  Tend to be mission-focused  May be targeted at individuals or more generically at places  Almost always involve firearms, maybe multiple firearms  Offender usually has no plans to escape Adapted from Douglas, Burgess, Burgess & Ressler; Petee, Padgett & York

17 How Can Violence Be Prevented?

18  An offender motivated to take violent action  The vulnerability of the target toward such action  An environment that enables violence (usually passively)  Other events that might trigger violent reactions Adapted from Deisinger; Felson & Cohen A product of:



21 Shots fired in your school…… the last thing you would expect to hear. The odds of being involved in a situation like this are similar to your chances of being struck by lightning. The possibility of being involved in an active shooter incident on the school campus may be remote, but the consequences can be catastrophic. That’s why it makes good sense to spend time now thinking and preparing for it.

22 Sandy Hook

23  Desire is to kill and seriously injure without concern for his safety or threat of capture  Normally has intended victims and will seek them out  Accepts targets of opportunity while searching for or after finding intended victims  Will continue to move throughout building/area until stopped by law enforcement, suicide, or other intervention

24 Developing a survival mindset Take direct responsibility for your personal safety and security. A survival mindset is a “protective shield” comprised of three components: Awareness Preparation Rehearsal

25 Awareness Have you ever heard a gun shot? People typically do not recognize a noise as a gun shot thinking it’s like what they have seen in the movies or on television. Be aware of your surroundings… know your environment, and what is out of place in your environment.

26 Preparation Asking the “what if” questions. Look at the campus through a “survival lens.” Survivors prepare themselves both mentally and emotionally to do whatever it takes to make it through a situation.

27 Rehearsal The “what if” plan means rehearsing your plan to reduce your response time and build your confidence. It is important to understand that any action taken or not taken during an active shooter situation may involve life- threatening risk.


29 Get out fast. Leave your belongings behind. The best way to survive an active shooter situation is to not be where the shooter is and not go where he can see you. If you decide to flee, make sure you can do it safely and have an escape route and plan in mind.


31 Call 911. Do not assume someone else has called the police you may be the first report. Be persistent in calling because the phone lines may be jammed.

32 If you cannot “Get Out, ” you should “Hide Out” Get everyone to lie down away from windows of “Fields of Fire.” Silence cell phones, close blinds, turn off lights, stay on floor, and do not peek out doors or windows. If in a hallway, look for an unlocked room or closet to hide in.

33 Turn out lights. Do not pull fire alarms or evacuate rooms or buildings…unless directed by emergency responders. If you cannot find a secure area, make use of whatever barrier you can place between yourself and the shooter. Lock classroom doors if possible. If doors cannot be locked, barricade with desks or tables.


35 Avoid huddling together for mutual protection and moral support. Spread out to make for a harder target for the shooter. If safe to do so, talk about what to do if the shooter enters the room.

36 Help others escape as you go. Help prevent others from entering the danger area. If someone near you has a life-threatening injury, and it is possible to provide first- aid to keep them alive, then do so.

37 If in a secured area, consider the risk exposure created by opening that secured area. Attempts to rescue people should only be made if it can be done without further endangering the people inside the secured area.

38 Keep in mind that as events unfold, you must continue to pay attention to what is happening so you can figure out what to do next and adjust your actions accordingly.

39 If there is absolutely no other opportunity for escape or survival. You must be committed to this action. The shooter’s very presence is a threat to your life. Be prepared to do whatever it takes to neutralize the threat.

40 This is not a time to throw up your hands and resist passively. See your decision through. To do so you will have to become more aggressive than you ever thought possible. Throw things Used improvised weapons Fight to live


42 Active Shooter in School SUMMARY FOR SURVIVAL “GET OUT” of the area if you can do so safely “CALL OUT” to police authorities “HIDE OUT” to avoid being seen by the shooter “KEEP OUT” the perpetrator “SPREAD OUT” to avoid becoming an easy target “HELP OUT” by aiding others who need assistance “FIGURE OUT” what needs to happen next “TAKE OUT” the shooter as a last resort

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