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Mass attackers in US often experience domestic violence, drug abuse, unemployment: report

People gather at a makeshift memorial honoring victims outside Walmart August 15, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. 22 people were killed in the Walmart during a mass shooting on August 3rd. (Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images/TNS)

The U.S. Secret Service released Thursday its annual assessment on mass attacks in the country.

The report, entitled Mass Attacks in Public Spaces 2019, looked at 34 episodes of targeted violence across the U.S. that occurred between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 in which at least three people were injured.

The attacks that fit into that criteria were carried out by 37 attackers in 21 states.

Of these, 59% of them (20 attacks) took place at public sites — or spaces that are easily accessible to the general population, such as sidewalks, restaurants, retail stores and a gas station.

The remaining 41% (14 attacks) were carried out at semi-public sites, including workplaces, schools, houses of worship, and military bases.

In total, 175 people were injured and 108 were killed, according to the report.

Among the key findings, the agency’s National Threat Assessment Center found that most of the attackers in 2019 used firearms — nearly half of which were possessed illegally.

About two-thirds of mass attackers “exhibited behavior that elicited concern in others.“

Many of them also “had recently experienced” similar contributing factors, such as unemployment, mental health symptoms or substance abuse.

Attackers often had a history of prior criminal charges or arrests, including episodes of domestic violence, according to the report.

James Murray, the director of the Secret Service said that the research is “critical as we continue to grapple with targeted acts of violence.”

Its findings help the agency to “remain one step ahead of the next tragedy,” and assist law enforcement officials in preventing, identifying and intervening “before a potential attacker has the motivation and opportunity to act,” Murray said in a statement.

The Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit that collects data on gun violence in the U.S., tracked 418 mass shootings in the country in 2019. Thirty-one of those were mass murders.

To the organization, “mass shootings” are defined as any incident in which at least four people are shot, excluding the shooter.


© 2020 New York Daily News