Offender and Offence Characteristics of School Shooting Incidents

F.J. Gerard, K.C. Whitfield, L.E. Porter, K.D. Browne

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    School shootings are a concern due to their impact in the local community. This paper aimed to (a) establish frequent characteristics of the offender and offence, (b) explore the differences between offenders who are over the age of 18 years and those who are younger, and (c) consider the underlying themes of the offence characteristics. Data were collected on 28 cases through accessing resources such as West Law and case studies. The majority of the offenders were Caucasian and US citizens and suffered from depression. Their offences were primarily well planned, involved more than three deaths, and resulted in the offender committing suicide. Pearson's chi-square test and Fisher's exact test identified significant differences between the two age groups. Offenders who were 18 years of age or under were more likely to experience depression, be US citizens and be linked to the school. Additionally, offenders who were 18 years of age or under were more likely to have stolen their weapons and made threats prior to the incident. Smallest space analysis revealed four thematic regions in relation to the offence characteristics: making an impact, delivering a message, doing unrestrained activity, and targeting specific individuals. These findings have implications for risk assessment and furthering understanding This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Gerard, FJ, Whitfield, KC, Porter, LE & Browne, KD 2015, 'Offender and Offence Characteristics of School Shooting Incidents' Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling, vol In press. DOI: 10.1002/jip.1439which has been published in final form at . This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling
    VolumeIn press
    Early online date25 Mar 2015
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016


    • school shooting
    • juvenile
    • offence characteristics
    • multidimensional scaling
    • school violence


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