Active Shooters in Our Schools

active shooters, school active shooter, guns


In 2023, 38 school shootings resulted in injuries or deaths, a decrease from the 51 school shootings with similar outcomes in 2022, which was the highest number recorded since tracking began in 2018. A total of 63 people were killed or injured in these incidents, including 21 deaths (15 students or children and six school employees or adults) and 42 injuries.

Moreover, from the 2000–01 to the 2021–22 school years, the United States witnessed 1,375 school shootings at public and private elementary and secondary schools, resulting in 515 deaths and 1,161 injuries. The 2021–22 school year saw the highest number of school shootings and casualties during this period, with 327 incidents leading to 81 deaths and 269 injuries, underscoring a disturbing trend in the frequency and impact of such events.

These statistics call for a multidimensional approach to prevention, emphasizing not just gun control and mental health services but also addressing the broader societal issues that contribute to such acts of violence. The role of social media, bullying, CAP laws, and the pressures of real-time society need to be considered in developing comprehensive strategies to protect schools and communities.

School Active Shooter Profile

The profile of a school active shooter can be complex, as individuals who commit these acts come from various backgrounds and have different motivations. However, research and analyses of past incidents have identified some common traits and warning signs among individuals who carry out school shootings. It’s important to note that these characteristics alone do not predict violent behavior; not every individual displaying them will become an active shooter. Here’s a general profile based on findings from various studies and reports:

  1. Demographics: Most school shooters have been male, have access to guns, and are students or former students of the school they target. The ages vary but are typically in the 14-26 years range.
  1. Psychological Factors: Many have shown signs of psychological distress or have had a history of mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, or severe emotional disturbances. It’s crucial to understand that not all individuals with mental health challenges are violent; in fact, they are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators.
  1. Behavioral Indicators: Warning signs can include a fascination with weapons or violence, significant changes in behavior, expressions of hopelessness or rage, threatening behavior, and making explicit threats.
  1. Social Dynamics: Social isolation, difficulty with peer relationships, and feelings of being bullied or persecuted are common among some individuals who have engaged in school shootings.
  1. Grievances and Ideation: Many shooters have grievances against individuals, groups, or schools. Some have been motivated by a desire for revenge, recognition, or to express ideological beliefs.
  1. Leakage of Intent: This communication of intent to harm others usually happens before the act occurs. This can be statements made to peers, writings, drawings, or social media posts.
  1. Interest in Past Shootings: An intense interest in previous mass shootings or mass shooters, often studying them to plan their acts.

Effective prevention strategies involve a combination of supportive interventions for individuals showing signs of distress, a strong community and school support system, and policies aimed at reducing access to weapons by those who pose a risk to themselves or others. Multi-disciplinary threat assessment teams in schools can help identify, assess, and manage potential threats before they escalate into violence.

Learn More about School Active Shooters

“In the majority of the School Active Shooter Incidents, the plans of the shooter(s) have not been kept a secret, and many times the shooter has revealed their plans to others…see or hear something, say something!” emphasizes Tim Dimoff.

Does your organization need active shooter training?  Contact Tim to schedule The Various Profiles of an Active Shooter and Active Shooter Prevention and Response presentations.