[courtesy co.washington.or.us]

1. Fantasy Stage – During this stage the shooter has daydreams of the shooting. He fantasizes about the news coverage. He idolizes other shooters. He might draw pictures of the event and make Web postings. Would-be Active Shooters in the Fantasy Stage will often discuss their desires with friends and foes alike. If news of these fantasies are shared with you, believe them and pass them on to law enforcement. If police can intervene prior to the suspect acting on their fantasy there may never be a head line.

2. Planning Stage – The suspect is deciding on the “who, what, when, where and how” of his day of infamy. He will put his plans down in writing. He will quite often discuss these plans with others and sometimes seek out an accomplice. He will plan the time and location to insure the most victims, or in some cases to target specific victims. He will determine the weapons he will need and where he will get them. He will decide how to travel to the target area and how to dress to conceal  his weapons without arousing suspicion. If the police are tipped during this stage, once again, intervention can be made prior to people dying and families crying.

3. Preparation Stage – The suspect may be obtaining gunpowder for his improvised explosive devices. He might break into grandfather’s house to steal some weapons
and ammunition for the event. He might stockpile or pre-position weapons and explosives for the assault. He might train with the weapons by  shooting regularly and testing explosive devices. He might conduct surveillance of the target location. Active Shooters have been known to call friends and tell them not to go to school or work on the scheduled day of the attack in an effort to keep them out of the line of fire. If one of these friends calls the police about their concerns, this citizen intervention may prevent multiple funerals.

4. Approach Stage – This is a very dangerous stage. The suspect has made his plans and decided to act. He will be walking, driving, or riding toward his intended target,
armed with his tools of death. Contact with the soon-to-be active shooter could come in the form of a traffic stop, a citizen call, or a stop and frisk. A thorough investigation can still lead to an arrest of the suspect before he brings down a multitude of victims in a needless shooting or bombing.

5. Implementation Stage – Once the shooter opens fire, immediate action needs to be taken. The Active Shooter will continue to kill until he runs out of victims or ammunition, or is stopped. This suspect is unique, because he is fully dedicated to going for the “top score,” which is measured in kills. The sooner an on- or off-duty officer or citizen intervenes with an effective, efficient act of courage, the fewer casualties there will be. In past incidents, active shooters have been thwarted by police officers, security guards, school teachers and students. One principal recently died successfully stopping an active shooter in a Wisconsin school. There is a risk in doing something, but the greatest risk lies in doing nothing. [Emphasis added.]

25 Responses to The Five Stages of an Active Shooter

  1. Where do these stages come from? Just made up in the shower this morning by the author? Interviews with actual mass murderers? Published studies? Sources and citations, please.

    • This was produced by the Washington County Sheriff’s Dept in Oregon. Especially for being within shouting distance of Portland, our sheriff’s department has an exceptional attitude towards citizens, even those that chose to be armed.

      • That’s the same Washington County Sheriffs Office that recently shot an innocent homeowner during a botched no knock raId.

        • I looked for a story on the shooting you mention, couldn’t find it. Could you provide a link?

          This is the most recent shooting by a Washington County deputy that I could find: http://www.mentalhealthportland.org/?p=15740

          From the story, “The incident was the first officer-involved shooting in Washington County since Oct. 14, 2010.” Neither situation started as a no-knock raid and both victims were armed.

  2. You forgot the stage where the local government assists the shooter by creating “gun free zones” to provide the shooter with a safe place to shoot innocent people without fear of the shooter being harmed in any way.

  3. Interesting that those stages would also apply to serial killers (with a repeat loop for steps 4 – 5). One could also say that those steps are a logical simplification of the military decision process and troop leading procedures. The big problem is that people can too often mistake innocent people doing legal things for someone in step 3.

    From a legal standpoint, no “crime” has actually been commited until step 5, unless there are some other infractions commited in steps 2-4 (would depend on local or state laws).

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not defending people intent on mass murder, but it’s lists like this that help hype the Fear Mongering of the Gun-Grabbers.

    • I suspect the spree shooter _is_ the modern serial killer. Back in the 60s and 70s everyone was freaked out by media coverage of deranged serial killers and rapists. No doubt other serial killers were inspired by the media coverage of their predecessors.

      Seems like we don’t see traditional serial killers much anymore. Have we simply substituted spree shooters in their place?

  4. Stage Six: Active shooter kills himself, wets his pants and surrenders meekly to the police, is wrestled to the ground by bystanders or is shot by a CCW holder.

    Stage Seven: The Brady Wingnuts have a party. Much handwringing by Mayor Blameberg. The President says “if I had any children, they’d look like me.” Wayne LaPierre warns us that our rights are in jeopardy. Mikey posts something stupid. The Mob Mainstream Media has a field day asking survivors how they feel. Gun sales go up by 47%. Jesse Jackson blames whitey and scores himself a fine hooker.

    • Stage Eight: Ralph posts something witty under the TTAG article about said events.

      Stage Nine: 99% of people forget about the story within a week or so, and go back to living in condition white.

  5. I don’t think this was just made up but sighting source or process would be nice.
    I think we all have good days and bad days. Sometimes we all make comments that on second thought should not have been made.
    So if a friend says “I could just kill them”, because he is having a bad day, how do you know how serious he or she is. Have they mentioned this killing fantasy for months, or just once.
    If we all get paranoid and start dialing 911 all the time it isn’t going to help either, and the cops will be running around performing welfare checks on everybody. I think care needs to be taken when we start asking untrained people to make psychological evaluations of friends or family. I am not saying don’t say anything, but prudence needs to be taken before screaming fire!

  6. “He will plan the time and location to insure the most victims[…]”

    Ensure. No shooter I’ve ever heard of took out insurance policies on his intended victims before he committed his crimes. Though, admittedly, my information may be lacking in that area.

  7. farago, you’ve created a site with a definite anti government and anti cop bent. did you expect a supportive atitude amongst this demographic for any sort of pre emptive interaction with the man?

  8. “I heartily accept the motto, — ‘That government is best which governs least'”-HDT
    jwm,
    I dont have a problem with having a government to run basic things, wage war when needed, and maintain general order. When the government starts telling me what I can and cant do is when I get peeved. Regardless of how I feel about the government, if I had a suspicion that someone I knew was planning something to kill masses of people, I wouldnt feel bad phoning up the man and telling them to check it out. I couldnt live with myself if I was right and didnt call the cops to stop the deranged person. But thats just me.

    • +1

      I’ve never viewed this site as anti government, just anti government overreach of powers. The same for cops… By the way… Anyone else think a scoped view of a schoolbus is in slightly poor taste?

  9. You cannot arrest someone for Stages 1-4. That would require THE THOUGHT POLICE, and it’s not legal to arrest someone for thinking.

    The reason we simply have to live with a certain amount of murder is that the police MUST wait until #5 has been done before they will have any interest in showing up on the scene of the crime. Remember, police don’t prevent crimes, they merely arrest suspects and collect evidence.

    The reason we never had to worry about 1-4 degenerating into a #5 is that religion let people know in no uncertain terms from a very young age that would would burn in hell for acting on their crazy fantasies. Now that we have decimated religion, we must live with the consequences.

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