Washington, D.C. - Today, the U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center released Mass Attacks in Public Spaces 2019, an annual report examining acts of targeted violence across the U.S.
Mass Attacks in Public Spaces 2019 examines 34 attacks in which three or more people were injured or killed between January 1 and December 31, 2019. These attacks were carried out by 37 attackers, injuring a total of 175 people and killing a total of 108.
“The Secret Service’s research and informed work in this space is critical as we continue to grapple with targeted acts of violence,” said U.S. Secret Service Director James M. Murray. “Research of this nature helps us to remain one step ahead of the next tragedy. Our findings assist in the implementation of prevention plans to identify, assess and intervene before a potential attacker has the motivation and opportunity to act. I commend the researchers and staff of our National Threat Assessment Center who spearhead this important work for the nation.”
MAPS 2019 identified five key findings and commonalities across the 34 incidents:
- The attacks impacted a variety of locations, inclusive of businesses and workplaces, schools, houses of worship, military bases, open spaces, residential complexes, and a commercial bus service.
- Most of the attackers used firearms, nearly half of which were possessed illegally.
- Many attackers had recently experienced notable stressors, such as unemployment, or struggled with substance abuse or mental health symptoms.
- Attackers often had a history of prior criminal charges or arrests, including domestic violence incidents.
- Most of the attackers exhibited behavior that elicited concern in others. In many cases, those concerned feared for the safety of themselves or others.
“We must all invest in our collective security as we strive for a safer tomorrow. The National Threat Assessment Center remains ready and willing to support implementation of our recommendations, tailored to the needs of any given community,” said NTAC Chief Dr. Lina Alathari. “I encourage any person, community leader, business owner, school official or simply a concerned neighbor to review this research.”
Since the 1990’s, the Secret Service NTAC has been conducting research, training, consultation, and information sharing on threat assessment and the prevention of targeted violence. NTAC has studied attacks directed at government agencies and officials, workplaces, and schools, colleges, and universities. This systematic approach identifies individuals who may be exhibiting threatening or concerning behavior and assessing the risk posed by the individual. The continuous academic research-based approach to studying indicators of acts of violence supports the Secret Service's protective mission and our nation's effort to better protect our communities.
The Secret Service will continue to build on our threat assessment methodology and provide our research findings and approach to the public and private sectors to enhance prevention efforts of those charged with safeguarding our nation.