FBI report designates 50 shootings in 2022 as active shooter incidents

New Zealand Security Magazine - April-May 2024

FBI
FBI: 23 of 50 active shooter incidents occurred in open space locations. Image: Unsplash.

A report from the FBI on active shooter incidents in the United States shows handguns and rifles as firearms of choice, and open spaces as the most commonly used location type, writes chief editor Nicholas Dynon.


Published in April 2023, the report Active Shooter Incidents in the United States 2022 provides an overview of active shooter incidents designed to assist law enforcement, other first responders, and the public to better understand the levels of threats associated with active shooter incidents in the US.

According to the 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.” The ‘active’ aspect of the definition implies “the ongoing nature of an incident and thus the potential for a 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
  • occurring at more than one location
  • where the shooter’s actions were not the result of another criminal act
  • resulting in a mass killing
  • indicating apparent spontaneity by the shooter
  • where the shooter appeared to methodically search for potential victims
  • that appeared focused on injury to people, not buildings or objects

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It is important to note that the report does not encompass all gun-related incidents. A gun-related incident was excluded if research established it was the result of:

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

This methodology was first articulated in A Study of Active Shooter Incidents in the United States Between 2000 and 2013, and was applied to the 2022 incidents for consistency.

The FBI designated 50 shootings occuring on 2022 as active shooter incidents. Although incidents decreased by 18% from 2021 (61 incidents), the number of active shooter incidents increased by 66.7% compared to 2018 (30 incidents).

The 50 active shooter incidents in 2022 occurred in 25 states and the District of Columbia and represent seven location categories, including open spaces, commerce, residences, education, government, houses of worship, and a health care facility.

“there was a 52.1% increase in the number of wounded compared to 2021, the highest in five years. In 2022, the number of wounded (213) is above average (140.25) for the years 2018–2021.”

Incidents by month

May 2022 had the highest number of incidents (nine); January and September 2022 had the fewest number of incidents (one). When compared to 2021, May 2022 had the highest increase in incidents (from five to nine) and June 2022 had the greatest decrease in incidents (from 12 to six).

Incidents by day of the week

Over the past two years (2021–2022), active shooter incidents occurred on every day of the week. When compared to 2021, in 2022, Sunday had the highest increase in incidents (from six to 12) and Saturday had the greatest decrease in incidents (from 14 to six). Thirty-two active shooter incidents (64%) occurred between Monday and Friday.

Incidents by time of day

Twenty-seven active shooter incidents (54%) in 2022 occurred during the afternoon/evening hours (between 12:00pm and 11:59pm), and 46% (23 incidents) occurred during the morning hours (between 12:00am and 11:59am).

According to the data, active shooter incidents in 2021 were more likely to occur between 6:00am and 5:59pm (63.9%), compared to 2022, when 50% of incidents occurred during the same time period.

Incidents by state

The 50 active shooter incidents in occurred in 25 states and the District of Columbia.

  • Six incidents occurred in Texas.
  • Three incidents each occurred in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, and New York.
  • Two incidents each occurred in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina.
  • One incident each occurred in Illinois, Indiana, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Washington, D.C.

Casualty count

The 50 active shooter incidents resulted in 313 casualties (100 killed and 213 wounded, excluding the shooters). Thirteen of the 50 incidents met the criteria of the US federal definition of mass killing (three or more killings in a single incident).

In the incident with the highest number of casualties, seven were killed and 48 wounded. In nine incidents, there were zero casualties.

The casualty count for 2022 (313) was the highest for the past five years. There was a casualty count increase of 28.8% compared to 2021 (243), which was above the average for the years 2018–2021 (222.5). The number of people killed and wounded for the 2018–2022 period by year included:

  • 2018: 86 killed, 139 wounded
  • 2019: 102 killed, 156 wounded
  • 2020: 38 killed, 126 wounded
  • 2021: 103 killed, 140 wounded
  • 2022: 100 killed, 213 wounded

In 2022, there was a 2.9% decline from 2021 in the number killed (100), but the number remains above average (82.25) for the years 2018–2021.

Despite this, there was a 52.1% increase in the number of wounded compared to 2021, the highest in five years. In 2022, the number of wounded (213) is above average (140.25) for the years 2018–2021.

Shooting locations

In A Study of Active Shooter Incidents in the United States Between 2000 and 2013, the FBI identified seven location categories where the public was most at risk. The FBI further breaks down individual categories, such as commerce open or closed to pedestrians, military or other government properties, and education by grade level.

The 50 active shooter incidents of 2022 occurred in seven location categories including open space, commerce, residence, education, government, house of worship, and health care. In 17 incidents (34%), the shooter fired weapons in multiple locations (open space and commerce).

23 of the 50 incidents occurred in open space locations, resulting in 29 people killed (including one law enforcement officer) and 76 people wounded (including six law enforcement officers).

In 48% of the incidents, the shooter had a known connection to the location and/or at least one victim, whereas in 52% of incidents, there was no known connection identified.

The shooters

Of the 50 shooters, 47 (94%) were male, one was female, one was nonbinary, and one was unidentified. Shooters were between the ages of 15 and 70 years old. Across all incidents, 61 firearms were used by shooters, including 29 handguns, 26 rifles, three shotguns, and three unknown. Two of the incidents involved snipers. Four shooters wore body armour.

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