How Crunching Data Can Help Police Stop Spree Killers
What if the police officers racing to a deadly mass shooting could know, ahead of time, whether they should trust or ignore first-witness reports? What if the brave men and women responding to heartbreaking scenes like those in Newtown, Connecticut and Littleton, Colorado could protect themselves - and save more victims - by knowing what to expect?
Thanks to a growing body of analytics tools, we can develop detailed profiles of such horrific events and the people behind them, even with only minimal information reported from the scene. These findings could help police anticipate probable outcomes and adjust accordingly in real time, potentially saving more lives.
In the swirl of panic, confusion and misinformation during the Columbine massacre, 13 people were dead or dying while the attackers - unbeknownst to the police - had already committed suicide. The first responding officers prioritized securing the school’s perimeter and waiting for backup, instead of immediately following the two shooters back inside the building. Some victims eventually bled out and passed away during this delay.
There has never been a case on U.S. soil that met what police expected to find in Newtown.
Years later and almost 2,000 miles away, police were still searching for a second shooter three hours after the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. They believed the witness reports that in addition to the killer who lay dead, another armed gunman had escaped and fled.