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Active shooters caused nearly 750 casualties in 2017

M. Hunter Martaindale, director of research at the ALERRT Center, said it isn’t clear yet whether the recent surge in incidents and deaths means active shootings will continue to go up.

“If it stays this way, it goes from anomaly to more of a trend,” he said. Prior to last year, he noted, the number of yearly incidents appeared to be leveling off after increasing steadily since the start of the 2000s.

The FBI’s first active shooter study started out as Martaindale’s master thesis. After the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, the FBI teamed up with Texas State University to begin tracking and analyzing active shooter events.

The relative rarity of active-shooter incidents makes analyzing trends in the data difficult, Martaindale said. But certain patterns are clear: 96 percent of the shooters since 2000 were male, and nearly two-thirds of all incidents happened in businesses and schools.

Of the 27 documented school shootings that were carried out by minors (younger than age 18), more than half were halted by unarmed teachers, students, or other school staff. In several cases, school authorities ended the violence by merely ordering the shooters to put down their guns. One school shooting was prevented by an armed adult who wasn’t a police officer.

More than half of active shootings were resolved in some way before police arrived on the scene. Of these, a quarter of the shooters committed suicide. Another 12 percent fled the scene. Four percent of shooters were stopped by armed citizens, including security guards. Twelve percent were stopped by unarmed citizens.

“What a civilian does has a very large impact on how these events unfold and how they end,” said Martaindale. “When the civilians get involved and fight back, they can end pretty quick.”

However, the FBI and ALERRT say that people in an active shooting situation should run away if possible, find a safe place to hide and barricade themselves if escaping the scene isn’t an option, and confront the shooter as a last resort.

In nearly 15 percent of the incidents tracked by researchers, police officers were either wounded or killed.

“It’s the most dangerous call a law enforcement officer can go on,” Martaindale said.

This article is published courtesy of The Trace