Active shooter incidents/domestic terrorist attacks carried out by an individual have become the rule, not the exception. These types of cases are often referred to as “lone wolf attacks”, and they are only accelerating in number.
Here are the facts:
- There have been 98 lone wolf attacks between 1980 and 2013
- 45 of these cases have taken place since 9/11
Why can’t we prevent the lone wolf from attacking?
Although these lone wolf attackers are not new perpetrators of violence against innocent people, warning signs are readily available in our technological world. But, first it is important to understand the behavioral characteristics of a potential lone wolf.
What came first, the chicken or the egg? Some lone wolf attackers are radicalized, but some are subject to mental illness that intensifies any type of perceived wrong or injustice they cling to as a trigger for violence. The important thing to note is that lone wolf attackers do not necessarily come from the same social economic background or utilize the same type of weapon.
- 65% are white males
- 49% are anti-government, 51% are hate crimes
- 59% use firearms, 25% use explosives, 5% use both
However, lone wolf attackers often share the same personality profile.
- Like to act alone
- Like to take risks
- Lack guilt and/or remorse
- Often possess antisocial personality disorders
The key to stopping the lone wolf resides with the people who are closest to them either intimately or peripherally. The lone wolf’s social circle and day-to-day environment (including local law enforcement) is usually privy to their aberrant thoughts and behavior. Therefore, everyone must take their heads out of the sand and pay attention to those around us. Otherwise, someone’s “personal problem” may end up causing the death of innocent people. We must all see something, say something.
Hello, is Anyone Listening?
Eighty percent of lone wolf attackers communicate their beliefs to their social circle. However, people either ignore or do not believe what the individual is saying. This is the root of the problem. Individual attackers do not plan and carry out the attack “all of a sudden”; there are warning signs to watch for including:
- Crazy or hate-filled rants on social media channels (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat)
- Excessive purchases/possession of firearms/weapons
- Lack of remorse for the welfare of people/animals
- Pointed threats online or in person toward members of races, nationalities and/or sexual orientations
The red flag to identify, however, is when the “public facing” behavior stops, and the individual starts to isolate themselves. This is a dangerous sign indicating that they are prepared to act.
Next, our law enforcement must readily share information.
Sharing is Caring
Although gun control is a viable argument for prevention, it will not eliminate the problem alone. The lone wolf attacker can be anyone, using anything deemed a weapon to harm or kill innocent people. Law enforcement should work together to prevent tragedy.
We should never hear that the FBI knew about the threat, but the local authorities were not alerted (e.g. the FBI had investigated the Boston Bomber and the Orlando Shooter but did not alert the local authorities). This is the source of a much-heated debate, however, is it worth losing lives over?
Overall, the problem is not whether the lone wolf presents behavioral warning signs publicly. The problem is that these warning signs are not being effectively noted, alerted and shared across proper authority channels who have the power to prevent the moment — “thought becomes action”.
We must take a vested interest in those around us and our law enforcement agencies must share information with one another to prevent lone wolf attacks in the United States.
Want to Learn More About the Lone Wolf?
Take action and learn how to detect, report and stop lone wolf attacks in America with Tim Dimoff’s presentation Lone Wolf…Increasing Danger in America. As a former law enforcement officer, Tim provides unique insight to understand the profile a potential lone wolf will present to family, friends, colleagues and law enforcement. Contact Tim to schedule your presentation today.