Most mass shooters show a change in behavior before acting. Here’s how to report it.
While mass shootings have sadly become commonplace across the country, efforts are being made to prevent more of them, and you can help in this effort.
As more and more details surface about the gunman who gunned down parade-goers in a Chicago suburb, a mass shooting analysis expert says there are several warning signs leading to the fatal incident.
“He was posting tons of really graphic and violent content online, [and] The family reported behavioral changes that they noticed he was getting darker,” Jill Peterson said. Peterson is an Associate Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Hamline University and holds a Ph.D. in psychology and social behavior. She is also co-author of “The Violence Project: Mass Shooting Data & Research”.
“Those would be all the warning signs that you want to think, ‘What’s going on here? How do we intervene?'” Peterson said.
This intervention, Peterson said, is critical to curbing these tragedies. She describes her book and her work on The Violence Project as “a nonpartisan, nonprofit research center focused on using data to reduce violence.”
In analyzing mass shooting investigations, contacting witnesses and even talking to the shooters themselves, the patterns and warning signs are one of the key points highlighted in their findings.
“We know most authors tell people they’re thinking about it,” Peterson said.
“Over 80% have a noticeable change in their behavior,” Peterson noted. “They act differently, people around them realize that – sometimes it’s as explicit as posting it online or writing it in newspapers, and so we have to take that seriously.”
The problem at this point, according to Peterson, is that many people don’t know who to contact to report behavior.
Fortunately for Minnesotans, by law every county must have a mobile crisis team ready to respond and handle crises at all stages.
No matter where you are in the state, dialing **274747 will connect you with mental health professionals. You can also text ‘MN’ to 741741 for assistance.
Hennepin County calls its crisis team “Cope” and says its lines are open 24/7.
“The first step is just to call,” said Jihan Ali, Hennepin County Cope team administrative manager.
To make this process easier for people – whether someone is calling about a self-crisis or reporting warning signs of another – no commitments need to be made and personal information has no no need to be shared.
Ali also said that there are resources available in multiple languages.