Rave blog Post

60% of Active Shooter Incidents in 2018 Occurred in Businesses

The FBI’s recently-released “Active Shooter Incidents in the United States in 2018” report reveals that, of twenty-seven events designated active shooter incidents in 2018, sixteen occurred in businesses - the highest proportion of business-related incidents since the FBI defined it classification criteria.
According to the FBI’s criteria, there were twenty-seven active shooter incidents last year accounting for 85 deaths and 127 injuries. Naturally the incidents that received the highest profiles were the tragic events at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the Santa Fe High School, and the Tree of Life Synagogue. However, active shooter incidents at schools and houses of worship were thankfully rare.

A much higher proportion of active shooter incidents occurred in businesses -almost 60% according to the FBI ́s classification of a business shooting. This rate of business shootings is much higher than when the FBI compiled its first active shooter report covering the years 2000 to 2013, and two subsequent reports covering 2014/15 and 2016/17. Our table below illustrates this steep increase.

Year # of Active Shooter Events # in Business Category Percentage
2000-2013 160 (13 year total) 73 (13 year total) 45%
2014 20 6 30%
2015 20 9 45%
2016 20 7 35%
2017 30 10 33%
2018 27 16 59%


The Underlying Statistics are Cause for Concern

In its most recent reports, the FBI has distinguished between business shootings that occurred in environments generally open to the public (stores, malls, gas stations, etc.), and environments generally closed to pedestrian traffic (offices, factories, etc.). An analysis of this distinction reveals a slight trend of more active shooter incidents occurring in “closed” business premises.

Year # of Open Business Shootings # of Closed Business Shootings % Closed
2000 - 2013 n/a n/a n/a
2014 4 2 33%
2015 6 3 33%
2016 4 3 42%
2017 6 4 40%
2018 9 7 44%

The reason for this trend being concerning is that the perpetrator in closed-environment business shootings was often an employee or former employee who demonstrated “observable pre-attack behaviors” in the period prior to the incident. Had these characteristics been recognized and reported by colleagues - and employers acted on the information - the incidents may have been avoided.

Observable Pre-Attack Behaviors Identified by the FBI

In 2018, the FBI conducted a study assessing the pre-attack behaviors of shooters between 2000 and 2013 (PDF). The study found that only 25% of active shooter incidents were perpetrated by an individual with a diagnosed mental health issue; and, although the mental health of the individual was considered a factor, it was only one of “4 to 5” observable pre-attack behaviors.

In respect of closed-environment business shootings, the FBI identified eleven of twenty-four active shooters who were employed at the business where they committed their offenses had suffered a noticeable deterioration of their work performance. In ten of the cases studied, there had been an “adverse employment action” (i.e. disciplinary action or firing) before the event. Other factors included:

  • Deterioration of interpersonal interactions
  • The leakage of violent intent
  • Quality of thinking or communication suffers
  • Anger and physical aggression
  • Deterioration of physical health
  • Increased drug or alcohol abuse

The Reluctance to Report Co-Workers is an Issue

In the workplace, employees are often reluctant to report their co-workers. The 2018 Global Business Ethics Report (registration required) claimed reporting rates for “interpersonal misconduct” ranged between 30% (sexual misconduct) and 36% (discrimination). The report supports previous studies showing a reluctance to report co-workers for a range of topics from fraud to physical abuse.

The reasons why employees are reluctant to report co-workers vary from fear of retaliation, to concerns they will be regarded as the office snitch, to the belief management won´t take any action against the offender. These reasons are often justified. The Global Business Ethics Report claims 40% of employees experience retaliation after reporting misconduct, while HR Magazine reported last year that only half of reports concerning racial discrimination are dealt with effectively.

Solutions for Businesses to Prevent Active Shooter Events

It is very difficult for businesses to prevent active shooter events in environments open to the public - although solutions such as Rave Panic Button and Rave Alert can accelerate emergency response and provide timely warnings for employees in order to mitigate the impact of an active shooter incident.  However, for closed-environment businesses, a solution such as Rave Eyewitness can help prevent active shooter events by empowering employees to report pre-attack behaviors anonymously.

Anonymous tip texting services have proven to be successful when used by law enforcement agencies and university campuses, and they could be equally as successful in preventing active shooter incidents in closed-environment businesses. Employees simply send an anonymized SMS message to HR and, through the Rave Eyewitness dashboard, HR can identify developing trends and intervene to address the issues causing concern - whether they relate to pre-attack behaviors or any other type of misconduct.

Because tips are anonymized, the employee sending the tip cannot be identified and retaliated against. This will encourage further employees to submit tips when they observe pre-attack behavior, which in turn will help HR identify trends faster and act more swiftly. Furthermore, because anonymous texts are recorded in the Rave Eyewitness database, there is a level of accountability to increase employee confidence their tips will be acted on.

Find Out More about Anonymous Tip Texting from Rave Mobile Safety

No matter what criteria is used to produce the statistics, 2018 was a horrific year for active shooter incidents. In relation to closed-environment business shootings, fourteen people lost their lives and seventeen were seriously injured - deaths and injuries that could have been avoided if the perpetrators´ pre-attack behavior had been recognized, reported, and acted on.

Businesses have a duty of care to provide employees with a safe working environment in which measures are taken to reduce preventable risks to the minimum possible. Certainly the implementation of an anonymous tip texting service such as Rave Eyewitness can help minimize the risk of a closed-environment business shooting and the financial losses attributable to active shooter incidents.

To find out more about mitigating the risks of closed-environment active shooter incidents, do not hesitate to get in touch. Our team of security experts will be happy to answer your questions and explain how our solutions for businesses to prevent active shooter events work. They will also be able to organize a free demonstration of Rave Eyewitness in action tailored to your specific requirements.

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Andrea Lebron
Andrea Lebron

Andrea is Rave's Director of Digital Marketing, a master brainstormer and avid coffee drinker. Andrea joined Rave in August 2017, after 10 years of proposal and corporate marketing at an environmental engineering firm. You'll find her working with her amazing team in writing and producing blogs like this one, improving your journey to and through our website, and serving you up the best email content. When she's not in front of a keyboard, she's chasing after her three daughters or indulging in her husband's latest recipe. Andrea has a Bachelor's degree in Marketing/Management from Northeastern University and an MBA from Curry College.

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