Why We Should Say Something
With the recent spate of shootings in the workplace or on school campuses this year from Parkland, FL to Annapolis, MD, each of the killers has revealed more than once leading up to the shooting incident what potentially was to come. On numerous occasions, the killers, either among those which they lived or socialized with or had communicated via some media platform or through acting out in the workplace or school campus a light, even vengeful and aggressive level of anger. Whether it was vocalized or written or both, their messages were abusive and at times violent, eventually evolving into retaliatory anger directed at specific parties for some perceived wrong committed by the victim or victims. The killers saw their intended victim(s) as the offender. Revenge was the end game. Clearly, in some of this year’s shootings, the killer reached a level of constant anger that had created an adverse effect on their emotional well-being. However, what is not clear is why this unhealthy behavior in whatever form it was displayed or delivered had not been noted and then acted upon.
There were apparent prior indicators in several of these incidents and nothing actionable was done. From February 14 in Parkland, FL where 17 were killed to the 10 killed on May 18 in Sante Fe, TX to the five killed in Orlando, FL on June 5 or recently the five lives were taken in Annapolis, MD on June 28, evidence of threats, harassment or intimidation existed and all or some of the intended victims knew the source. The expressed threats and /or harassment were conveyed on Twitter, via email or text, by U.S Mail, on Facebook, presented to social workers or school counselors or delivered in person, or passed to law enforcement for investigation. In the Parkland, FL incident both federal and local law enforcement agencies were made aware of the expressed threats by the killer well in advance of the shooting and they did not follow up. This latter failure happened last year in the Sutherland Springs, TX shooting at the First Baptist Church in that community. The killer, a former US Air Force (USAF) enlisted man, was court-martialed for and had been bad conduct discharged for domestic violence, and after serving 12 months in a military prison was released without conditions on purchasing firearms. USAF authorities did not report to the FBI’s NCIS, as required, which ultimately would have flagged and prevented the shooter from legally purchasing firearms anywhere in the U.S. There were also known systematic acts of annoying conduct---harassment---involving blatant directed personal malice towards some victim(s), leaving them to feel anxious or in fear of harm. With some of these occurrences, there were declarations of intent to inflict injury in retaliation for perceived wrongs by the victims. The Annapolis, MD incident bore evidence of such declarations. Even menacing and inducement of fear occurred. But nothing was done to prevent the outcomes.
There have been more than 160 incidents of mass violence this year alone! At this writing that is almost as many days in this current year. What constructive action has taken place to prevent these mass shootings? Funerals for the victims of the Annapolis shooting are now wrapping up in the nine days since. How many more funerals for mass shooting victims is enough? What is clear is that some of the killers meet the various levels of angry behaviors mentioned above. They lived, worked, interacted with, and were known by their victims and authorities. What will it take to get actionable movement to confront these angry, unstable individuals? How many more times will it take before a potential victim, friend, co-worker, employer or representative, counselor or social worker, family member, a media platform chat contact or roommate reports what they saw or know or were reliably told, and report it to law enforcement authorities?
In closing I ask this: Why should we say something when we see or know something of potential harm to be inflicted? It just might save you or someone you know---even loves dearly.