FBI sees sharp rise in active shooter incidents

FBI counts 61 ‘active shooter’ incidents last year, up 52% from 2020

epa09532592 The FBI raids the home of Russian oligarch and Putin ally Oleg Deripaska in the Embassy Row neighborhood of Washington, DC, USA, 19 October 2021. The FBI did not specify the reason of the court-authorized raid. EPA-EFE/JIM LO SCALZO

May 23 (Reuters) - The United States experienced 61 "active shooter" incidents last year, up sharply in the sheer number of attacks, casualties and geographic distribution from 2021 and the highest tally in over 20 years, the FBI reported on Monday.

By Steve Gorman

The 2021 total, spread over 30 states, was 52% higher than 2020 and about double each of the three previous years, according to the FBI.

The agency defines an active shooter as someone engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a public space in seemingly random fashion.

Commercial businesses accounted for just over half of all such incidents last year, which also was notable for an emerging trend of “roving active shooters” opening fire in multiple locations, as was the case with a gunman who attacked several Atlanta-area day spas, the FBI said.

Last year’s active-shooter carnage left 103 people dead and 140 wounded, the report said. By contrast, the FBI counted 40 active-shooter attacks in 19 states that killed 38 people and wounded 126 in 2020, a year that coincided with the height of restrictions on social and economic life due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Comparisons with recent years are heavily skewed by data from 2017, the year a gunman opened fire on an outdoor music festival in Las Vegas from a high-rise hotel window, killing 56 people and wounding hundreds more in a single incident.

The Las Vegas attack alone helped push 2017’s annual casualty toll – 143 killed and 591 wounded – to record highs even though there were only 31 active shooting incidents that year, about half the number in 2021.

As high as last year’s death toll was, it ranks as only the seventh deadliest year in active shooting incidents dating back to 2000, the first year for which FBI figures are available. Still, it marks the biggest number of such attacks on record, exceeding only the 40 recorded in 2020.

California, despite having some of the nation’s toughest gun laws, accounted for more active shooter incidents than any other state last year, six out of 61, followed by Texas and Georgia with five each, according to the report.

The single deadliest incident of 2021 was the mass shooting at the Kings Soopers Grocery Store in Boulder, Colorado, in which 10 victims perished. Eight were killed and seven wounded at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis.

The FBI noted that its active shooter report does not encompass all gun violence or even all mass shootings.

Excluded from the data were gang- or drug-related acts of violence, incidents defined strictly as domestic disputes, isolated hostage situations or crossfire from other criminal acts, the FBI said.


(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Stephen Coates)


Comments - Please in order to comment.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.8% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.2% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.2% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country.

Be part of that 0.2%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options