Late last year, the FBI released its long-anticipated study of active shooter incidents. The first-of its-kind study looked at incidents that occurred between 2000 and 2013, and contains concrete data that puts to bed many popularly held beliefs. The findings and conclusions can be particularly jarring for companies who, as morbid as it may be, must consider potential civil exposure for failing to safeguard against these incidents. Seventy percent of the active shooter incidents during the subject period occurred at a commercial business or an educational institution. Employers simply cannot ignore improving safety, security and training to minimize risk.
The FBI study was limited to “active shooter” incidents, which it defined as occasions where an individual with a firearm actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in confined areas inside buildings. The FBI found 160 active shooter incidents meeting its criteria, with an average of 11.4 incidents annually. In the last seven years of the study, that number increased to 16.4 incidents annually. The incidents occurred across 40 states and the District of Columbia. Readers need no reminding of the most heinous we have seen over that period of time.
In the vast majority of incidents, shooters were solo acting young males. Only two incidents involved multiple shooters, and only six incidents involved female shooters. Forty percent of the shooters committed suicide at the scene or shortly after, suggesting they had been suffering from suicidal thoughts prior to their attack. The study concluded that the shootings happened extremely quickly, with nearly 70 percent ending in five minutes or less; nearly half ended in less than two minutes.
The FBI discovered that the most likely place for an active shooting incident was in an area of commercial business. In the majority of cases involving businesses open to the public, the shooters were not employed at the location of the attack. Most attacks occurred on Tuesdays and Fridays. However, for businesses not open to the public, the danger was internal, with all but one of 23 active shooters being a current or former employee.
Institutions such as schools and universities have been grappling with taking steps to address the risks highlighted by these statistics. Businesses must join them to be pro-active by implementing the following:
- Conduct comprehensive safety and security audits of the workplace.
- Conduct fire-drill type exercises for an active shooter incident.
- Develop and implement emergency protocols to respond to acts of violence.
- Train personnel on how to respond to incidents of violence, not limited to firearms.
- Train personnel to identify risk factors leading to violent conflict in the workplace.
Patrick Mincey is a trial lawyer in Wilmington, where he founded the Criminal Defense Group at Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog LLP. His criminal practice ranges from representing individuals and corporate clients who are targets, subjects or witnesses in federal and state white collar proceedings to “blue collar” defendants charged with murder, drug conspiracies and assaults. To contact Patrick Mincey, call (910) 777-6017 or email him at [email protected].