What can we learn from the Oxford shooting?

How do we prevent this from happening again?

In the case of the Oxford High School shooting, there were multiple warning signs that lead up to the attack and many reports from parents, students, and teachers. Had these signs been properly reported, it’s possible that the event could have been prevented.

Timeline of Events:

Nov. 16: Concerned Oxford High School parents and students reached out through email to the Oxford Superintendent Timothy Throne and Oxford High School Principal Steven Wolf about the shooter’s concerning social media posts.

That same day, Wolf sent an email back to the parents that said “the assumptions made about the shooter were exaggerated, and there was ‘absolutely no threat at the High School.’”

In the days leading up to the shooting, the shooter “posted countdowns and threats of bodily harm, including death, on his social media accounts, warning of violent tendencies and murderous ideology.”

Nov. 26: The shooter’s parents gave him a gun as an early Christmas present. The shooter posted a photo of the gun on social media, which was public to all.

Nov. 29: The suspect was searching for ammunition on his phone in class. A teacher noticed and reported him. The school called his mother, but she didn’t answer. She sent him a text saying she didn’t mind his behavior, he just had to learn to not get caught.

That night on Twitter, the shooter posted, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds. See you tomorrow Oxford.”

Nov. 30: In class, the shooter drew a picture of a gun, a bullet, and a person who had been shot near a laughing emoji with the words, “the thoughts won’t stop, help me,” “blood everywhere,” and “my life is useless.” A teacher saw the drawing, took a photo, and reported it.

The school called a meeting with the shooter’s parents about the drawing and advised he receive counseling within 48 hours. The shooter’s parents “resisted” the idea of him going home. Ultimately, the shooter was sent back to class with the gun he had in his backpack.

Later that day, the shooting took place.

What was done right?

It’s very rare that people just snap and commit a mass shooting. They are on a pathway to violence and on this pathway there are road signs and warnings.  The shooter’s interest in ammunition, access to a gun, social media posts, and drawings were all cause for concern. The students, parents, and teachers who reported the shooter’s concerning behaviors all did the right thing.

What was done wrong?

Media reports and preliminary aspects of the investigation indicate that school officials failed to follow guidelines, including a thorough investigation. It appears that the student was never questioned about whether he was in possession of a gun. There was probable cause to search his backpack and locker, but reports indicate that was not done. Despite the parents’ resistance, the student should not have been returned to class until a comprehensive investigation and a mental health assessment was conducted. According to a new lawsuit, the school didn’t inform the campus safety liaison of the shooter’s behavior and the liaison wasn’t included in the meeting.

Oxford High School is now facing $100M in lawsuits.

Active Assailant Prevention Is Possible When You See the Signs

It’s extremely rare that active assailants “just snap.” The typical assailant will exhibit observable behavioral signs of violence before a violent event takes place. This is called the “pathway to violence.” If Oxford school officials had listened to the parents and students who reported the shooter’s behavior on Nov. 16th and taken preventive action, the event may have been prevented.

Active assailant prevention can be achievable by understanding anomalous behavior and having organizational mechanisms to get help for those in need and alerting security when appropriate. On December 9th, two students at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University reported a fellow student for posting concerning sentiments online. When Florida police questioned and searched the suspect, he had a backpack that contained a gun and ammunition.

Don’t leave anything to chance! TPOP’s active shooter preparedness training can teach you to recognize violent behavioral indicators and respond accordingly. The training also features situational awareness, the Run, Hide, Fight methodology, response to injury, and more.

YOU can prevent events like these from occurring at your workplace. Let’s talk about preparedness training for your company today.