Dr. Mary Ellen O’Toole, senior FBI profiler/criminal investigative analyst (ret.), Behavioral Analysis Unit, and Editor-In-Chief of the peer-reviewed journal Violence and Gender recently responded to Richard Freidman’s op-ed in the New York Times entitled “Why Can’t Doctors Identify Killers?”
She disputes his conclusion that mass shootings are not predictable.
If these crimes are not predictable, “it forces us to fall back on the “snapping theory– that someone just “snaps,” and we don’t see it coming and we can’t do anything to prevent it.”
Other important highlights from the article about mass shooters include:
• Nihilistic/homicidal/suicidal ideation associated with mass murderers evolves over time, and evidence of this is reflected in their planning and preparation for the crime, their interactions with others, how they live their lives, their writings, and their behavior regarding social networking; people don’t just snap
•The Association of Threat Assessment Professionals has developed standards for evaluating individuals who make or pose threats; there is the science behind threat assessment
• Threat assessment science is based on the biopsychosocial model of medicine and encompasses all aspects of an individual’s life to help identify warning behaviors
• If warning behaviors are overlooked or misread, it should not lead to the conclusion that they were absent or that threat assessment professionals have no knowledge, training and expertise to act on those behaviors
• The majority of mass shooters are motivated by fame and infamy and when possible the shooters name should be not be used
Dr. Mary Ellen O’Toole is a highly-respected individual who has conducted a great deal of research about threat assessment.
The New York Times should consider publishing her response to Richard Freidman’s op-ed in their newspaper.