Half of America’s mass attacks from 2016-2020 were sparked by personal, domestic or workplace grievances, a new US Secret Service report that urges people to keep an eye out for potential killers has found.
The attackers were overwhelmingly men, often with histories of mental health issues, financial problems or domestic abuse, says the National Threat Assessment Center report. Guns were typically the weapon of choice.
The report comes days after two mass shootings in California took the lives of 18 people and as authorities searched for motives in the attacks, both linked to older men with grievances.
In Monterey Park, gunman Hu Can Tran opened fire with an illegal semi-automatic pistol at the Star Dance Studio during Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations on Saturday. He killed 10 people, and another died in hospital earlier this week.
Attackers are overwhelmingly men, often with histories of mental health issues, financial problems or domestic abuse, says the US Secret Service
In Monterey Park, gunman Hu Can Tran opened fire with an illegal semi-automatic pistol at the Star Dance Studio during Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations on Saturday. He killed 10 people, and another died in hospital earlier this week
The motive for the shooting is still unclear, but Tran’s ex-wife confirmed he used to teach lessons at the studio and was quick to anger.
Days later, Chunli Zhao, 67, a veteran farm worker, allegedly opened fire and killed seven Chinese agricultural laborers in what is being described as a workplace dispute.
These attacks are part of a wider problem – within the first 24 days of this year, 70 people have been killed and 167 injured in 39 mass shootings, according to the Gun Violence Archive, an institute tracking shootings in the country.
Such attacks have become alarmingly coming, but politicians remain divided on the solutions. Democrats seek tighter gun controls, while Republicans focus on mental health and increased security.
‘It’s just happening way too often,’ said Lina Alathari, the National Threat Assessment Center’s director, adding that the California killings showcased recurring themes in American mass attacks.
The 70-page report, issued on Wednesday, studied 173 mass attacks in which three or more people were harmed, not including the attacker.
Almost all the attacks were carried out by one person, 96 percent of attackers were men, and they ranged in age from 14 to 87.
Residents leave flowers outside the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, California, where multiple people were killed late Saturday night during Lunar New Years celebrations
A woman holds candles at a makeshift memorial to honor mass shooting victims on January 24, in Half Moon Bay, California, where seven people were killed and one critically wounded in shootings at two locations
They targeted public or semi-public places such as businesses, schools, churches, public transport, and military bases, among other places, killing 513 people and injuring 1,234.
Attackers often had a prior relationship with the business they decided to target, as an employee, a customer or a former employer — and often one with a grievance.
Nearly two-thirds of attackers had exhibited behaviors or communications ‘that were so concerning, they should have been met with an immediate response,’ the report said.
Alathari urged the public to look out for warning signs and alert the authorities.
‘Interest in violence, interest in previous mass attackers, posting about them, talking to people about them, bringing a weapon to [their] workplace, bringing a weapon to school, coworkers fearing them, grievances,’ she said.
‘These are themes that we do see over and over again.’
Researchers also called for more focus on domestic abuse and misogyny, noting that nearly half of the attackers studied had a history of domestic violence, misogynistic behavior or both.
Firearms were used in 73 percent of incidents, including by some prohibited from owning them, researchers found.
State-level ‘red flag laws’ that allow for the court-ordered removal of guns from someone presenting a risk could limit such attacks, the report said.
Within the first 24 days of this year, 70 people have been killed and 167 injured in 39 mass shootings, according to the Gun Violence Archive, an institute tracking shootings in the country.
Police cordon off the parking lot of a San Mateo County Sheriff’s substation in Half Moon Bay, California, site of a recent mass killing
Agencies contributed to this report.