FBI Releases Report on 2020 Active Shooter Incidents

The FBI released their report on “Active Shooter Incidents in the United States in 2020”. This appears to now be a yearly report. (link to previous reports)

The CURRENT FBI Active Shooter Report, for all 2020 incidents:

active-shooter-incidents-in-the-us-2020-070121.pdf (1.1 MB)

For those that aren’t aware, the FBI Active Shooter Incident reports use the criteria that I think most people would agree is the real definition of a mass shooter. Someone whose intent is to kill as many random people as possible. Shooters such as Parkland HS, Aurora Colorado movie theater, Las Vegas, etc are typical examples. This is in contrast to other sources (such as the Gun Violence Archive) who may use an arbitrarily chosen number as a threshold, for example “more than 4 people shot is a mass shooting”, and predominately include gang activity and domestic disputes. The FBI definition uses intent to cause harm and will include an incident no matter how many or how few deaths occurred.

The official FBI definition follows in part, and can be seen in its entirety on page 2 of the current report:

The FBI defines an active shooter as one or more individuals actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area. Implicit in this definition is the shooter’s use of a firearm. The active aspect of the definition inherently implies the ongoing nature of an incident, and thus the potential for the response to affect the outcome.

When evaluating shooting incidents to determine if they met the FBI’s active shooter definition,
researchers considered for inclusion:

  • Shootings in public places
  • Shootings occurring at more than one location
  • Shootings where the shooter’s actions were not the result of another criminal act
  • Shootings resulting in a mass killing
  • Shootings indicating apparent spontaneity by the shooter
  • Shootings where the shooter appeared to methodically search for potential victims
  • Shootings that appeared focused on injury to people, not buildings or objects

This report does not encompass all gun-related shootings. A gun-related incident was excluded if research established it was the result of:

  • Self-defense
  • Gang violence
  • Drug violence
  • Contained residential or domestic disputes
  • Controlled barricade/hostage situations
  • Crossfire as a byproduct of another ongoing criminal act
  • An action that appeared not to have put other people in peril

High level statistics:

  • 40 incidents with 42 shooters
  • 164 casualties (38 killed, 126 wounded), not including the shooters
  • 12 LEO casualties (1 killed, 11 wounded)

Of the 42 shooters…

  • 35 male, 3 female, 4 unspecified
  • 1 wore body armor
  • 24 apprehended by LEO
  • 4 killed by police
  • 7 committed suicide
  • 2 killed by citizen (one by firearm, one by vehicle)

Interesting information:

  • Skimming the list of 40 incidents I saw 26 used handguns, 11 used rifles (not specific as to type), 3 used a shotgun, 4 were unspecified (in the report)
  • June had the most shootings (8) followed by December (6)
  • No active shooter incidents occurred on Tuesdays; Saturdays saw the most incidents (15)
  • 45% of the shootings happened at night (between 6pm to midnight)
  • California had the most incidents with 6. Followed by Illinois with 5
  • Most shooters were in their 30s (16). The youngest was 15, the oldest 87(!)
  • There was a notable drop in the number of casualties compared to previous years even though the number of events was higher. The report speculates “that many people avoided public spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, which presented fewer active shooter casualty opportunities in target-rich environments (i.e., restaurants, movie theatres, stadiums, workplaces, schools, etc.)