weather icon Partly Cloudy
RJ App
Vegas News, Alerts, ePaper

America’s mass killers in 2017 had at least 1 thing in common, report says

Updated March 29, 2018 - 7:40 pm

WASHINGTON — A profile of people responsible for 28 mass attacks last year — including the Las Vegas shooting — found that most were motivated by grievances, a majority had mental health symptoms and all were men, according to a U.S. Secret Service report released Thursday.

The report and analysis by the Secret Service Threat Assessment Center also found that all the attackers had a significant stress trigger within the last five years, and more than half had indications of financial instability.

Most of the men who carried out the attacks also made concerning communications or caused others to be concerned beforehand, according to the seven-page report.

The Secret Service conducted the research to establish best practices in gauging threat and potential risk assessment when conducting a comprehensive investigation into a person’s background.

“Our behavioral research on incidents of targeted violence has shaped how we conduct threat assessments as an agency,” said Frederick Sellers, assistant director of the Secret Service’s Office of Strategic Intelligence and Information.

“We use multiple sources to gather and analyze information to assess concerning behaviors and identify mitigation strategies in support of our protective mission,” Sellers said.

The 28 attacks the study reviewed resulted in 147 deaths and injured hundreds of people.

The weapons

Firearms were used in 82 percent of the attacks, the report found. Vehicles were used in 11 percent, and knives were used in 7 percent.

Of the 23 men who used firearms, at least 10 possessed those weapons illegally. Two of the shooters were minors, and most of the others were either felons or had some other factor that should have prohibited them from owning a gun.

Eight of the attackers committed suicide, and four were killed by law enforcement. Nine were taken into custody at the scene, and seven were arrested at another location.

Around 54 percent of the attackers had a history of drug or substances abuse, and about 71 percent had histories of criminal charges beyond minor traffic violations.

Nearly two-thirds of the attackers experienced some sort of mental symptoms ahead of their attacks, though only 25 percent had been hospitalized or prescribed medication.

Paddock’s behavior

Stephen Paddock, 64, the gunman responsible for the Oct. 1 shooting at the Route 91 Harvest festival, fit into some of the profile categories but not others.

Paddock used his 32nd-floor Mandalay Bay suite to fire 1,100 rounds into the festival crowd, killing 58 and wounding hundreds more. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot when law enforcement approached his room during the 10-minute assault, the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

A preliminary investigative report released Jan. 18 by the Metropolitan Police Department detailed a physician’s observation that Paddock was “odd” in behavior and may have suffered from a bipolar disorder, although he was only prescribed medicine for anxiety. All his gun purchases were legal.

Paddock did not have a criminal record or a history of substance abuse or domestic violence, the Metro report said. But he was known to be a heavy gambler. He had recently lost large sums of money, and his girlfriend was reportedly concerned about his behavior.

MGM Resorts released video footage last week of Paddock interacting with employees and gambling at video machines at Mandalay Bay in the days prior to the attack.

In a statement, an MGM spokeswoman said the video clips show the company and Mandalay Bay “could not reasonably foresee that a long-time guest with no known history of threats or violence and behaving in a manner that appeared outwardly normal, would carry out such an inexplicably evil, violent and deadly act.”

MGM and Mandalay Bay are named in lawsuits that were filed after the mass shooting.

The Secret Service report said the 28 mass attacks last year were carried out at 31 sites, including businesses, open spaces, schools and churches. More than half the attacks occurred between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m.

The Secret Service defined mass attacks as intentional acts of violence in public places that caused significant harm to three or more people. Criminal acts, like drug and gang violence, were excluded.

Contact Gary Martin at gmartin@reviewjournal.com or 202-662-7390. Follow @garymartindc on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.