School shooters don’t just “snap,” journalist Mark Follman, author of Trigger Points: Inside the Mission to Stop Mass Shootings in America, tells Greg Toppo on The 74.
School shootings are planned, says Follman. There are warning signs. Some schools are creating “a collaborative team of experts” to assess threatening behavior and steer troubled students away from “the pathway to violence.”
In many cases, the subject has not committed a crime, he says. Threat-assessment teams are deal with “cries for help” from “young individuals who are in crisis, who may be suicidal, filled with rage, despairing, and they’ve developed an idea that they don’t have any other solution to their problems, and that this form of violence is the solution. . . . It’s a matter of trying to step in and figure out what the root problems are and get them the help and support they need.”
The Salem-Keizer School District in Oregon built one of the first programs of this kind after Columbine, and they’ve continued to develop this work over the past two decades. . . . There is a lead school psychologist, security experts, social services, youth social services, and local law enforcement representation.
He describes a Salem-Keizer student who was suicidal and threatening violence. An officer determined he didn’t have access to a weapon at home. A plan including counseling, tutoring, collaboration with his mother and “working to create stronger social connections for him within the school, specifically with two teachers that he was known to like” helped him through the crisis.
Uvalde school district has “its own police force, threat assessment teams at each school, a threat reporting system, social media monitoring software, fences around schools and a requirement that teachers lock their classroom doors,” reports NBC News. A school door apparently was left unlocked so parents could attend end-of-school award ceremonies.
The Uvalde shooter threatened girls he “met” online, reports the Washington Post.
He could be cryptic, demeaning and scary, sending angry messages and photos of guns. If they didn’t respond how he wanted, he sometimes threatened to rape or kidnap them — then laughed it off as some big joke. But these threats hadn’t been discovered by parents, friends or teachers. They’d been seen by strangers, many of whom had never met him and had found him only through the social messaging and video apps that form the bedrock of modern teen life.
Some reported him to Yubo, known as “Tinder for teens,” but nothing happened.