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Secret Service Report Investigates Mass Violence in U.S.

February 02, 2023

Most attackers who commit mass violence exhibited concerning behavior to family members, friends, neighbors, classmates, co-workers, and others, according to a new report released this month.

The report from the Secret Service aims to prevent mass-violence events and reviews U.S. trends from 2016 to 2020. It also focuses on the role the community plays in violence prevention.

“The prevention of mass violence in America remains as critical as ever,” U.S. Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle said in a statement. “Far too often, communities and families have been devastated by the impact of these tragedies, and public safety professionals continue to work toward preventing future attacks.”

Among the report’s key takeaways:

  • Background:  The agency studied 173 attacks that occurred in a variety of locations, including businesses and workplaces, schools, houses of worship, military bases, residential complexes, and other areas.
  • Motivations:  Half of the attackers were motivated by grievances, and were retaliating for perceived wrongs related to personal, domestic, or workplace issues.
  • Mental health:  More than half of the attackers experienced mental health symptoms prior to or at the time of their attacks.
  • Sources:  About 75 percent of the attacks involved the use of one or more firearms. Bladed weapons and vehicles were the next common weapons used in these attacks.
  • Next steps:  The report recommends organizations implement behavioral threat assessments to support their efforts to identify and intervene long before an incident occurs.

“Everyone in the community plays a role in violence prevention,” said Dr. Lina Alathari, chief of the National Threat Assessment Center. “The latest NTAC report provides an unprecedented analysis to support our public safety partners and affirms that targeted violence is preventable if communities have the right information and resources to recognize warning signs and intervene.”

Pennsylvania hospitals continue to focus on initiatives to address gun violence in their communities. This includes a commitment to hospital-based intervention programs that can make a difference and new approaches focused on prevention.

The report is available to review online.

For more information about emergency preparedness, Christopher Chamberlain, MS, RN, CHEP, vice president, emergency management.