Originally posted on May 31, 2018. With the media giving news coverage to a study based on this politically biased data, it seemed useful to again point out the flaws in the FBI’s data.
Original Post: The FBI has now released its third report on active shooters. The first report covered 2000-2013, and we found 20 missing cases where at least 2 people had been killed. FBI reports for 2014-15 and 2016-17 also missed cases.
The FBI’s two latest reports state that there were 40 active shooter cases from 2014-15 and 50 cases from 2016-17. During these two periods, the FBI reports that two and five shootings, respectively, were stopped by individuals with concealed handgun permits. The two reports each describe an additional case where a permit holder was involved but wounded or killed by the attacker.
For four years, the CPRC has been collecting cases of concealed handgun permit holders stopping mass public shootings. As we will show below, permit holders saved lives in between 13 and 16 cases from 2014-17. This includes the seven cases that the FBI lists, seven cases that should have been included (one of the seven is debatable), and two cases that the FBI had on its list but doesn’t include as instances of permit holders saving lives. Thus, concealed handgun permit holders saved lives in 13.5% to 16.5% of 97 cases. We only started collecting these cases were permit holders stopped attacks in 2014, so a comparison is limited to the last two active shooting reports put out by the FBI.
It is entirely possible that in the two cases where a permit holder was wounded or killed by the attacker that the permit holder’s actions allowed others to escape the scene. But even assuming that was not the case, permit holders were successful between 87% and 89% of the time that they intervened.
The first report claimed that permit holders had stopped one out of 160 active shooter cases from 2000-2013. We don’t believe that we have found all of the cases in which permit holders saved lives during that period, so we aren’t going to focus on those errors here. But we did find 14 other cases. Adding together all the cases from 2000 to 2017, we know of a total of at least 31 out of 270 cases, or 11.5%, being stopped by permit holders.
The first report provides the most detailed definition of active shooter incidents:
- An “active” shooter case may possibly occur any time a gun is fired, even if no one is injured or killed.
- The FBI only includes shootings in “public places” such as commercial areas (malls, stores, and other businesses); schools and colleges; open spaces; government properties (including military bases and civilian offices); houses of worship; and healthcare facilities.
- The FBI excludes “shootings that resulted from gang or drug violence,” occurred in the commission of another ongoing crime such as robbery, or arose primarily from self-defense — primarily a domestic dispute or barricade/hostage situation.
In the most recent report, the FBI defines an active shooter as (p. 2):
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 one or more firearms. The active aspect of the definition inherently implies that both law enforcement personnel and citizens have the potential to affect the outcome of the event based upon their responses to the situation. . . .
We contacted the FBI about its classification of these cases. We will discuss the objections that the FBI made in its response to us and our counter responses. When we pointed out that there were a number of cases included in their reports that were the same in type as the ones that they excluded, the FBI wrote us back:
The selection of cases for inclusion in these reports is the result of a consensus vote of analysts and Law Enforcement professionals using the methodology stated in the original 2013 study. In some cases, a level of interpretation is required with which all may not agree. The FBI notes your differing opinion in the stated cases.
But first, here are the seven active shooter cases that the FBI acknowledges were stopped by permit holders:
1. Schlenker Automotive (Commerce)
On November 17, 2017, at 4:30 p.m., Robert Lorenzo Bailey, Jr., 28, armed with a handgun, allegedly began shooting in the parking lot of Schlenker Automotive in Rockledge, Florida. The manager of the auto repair shop and an employee, both possessing valid firearms permits, exchanged gunfire with the shooter. One person was killed; one was wounded. The shooter, shot twice during the exchange, was held at gunpoint by the manager until law enforcement arrived and took him into custody.
2. First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas (House of Worship)
On November 5, 2017, at 11:20 a.m., Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, armed with a rifle, exited his vehicle and began shooting outside the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. He then entered the church and continued shooting at members of the congregation. The shooter exited the church and was confronted by a citizen who possessed a valid firearms permit. The citizen shot the shooter twice, causing the shooter to drop his rifle and flee the scene in his vehicle. The armed citizen, together with the owner of a pickup truck, pursued the shooter. The chase ended when the shooter’s vehicle struck a road sign and overturned. Twenty-six people were killed; 20 were wounded. The shooter committed suicide with a handgun he had in his vehicle before police arrived.
3. Townville Elementary School (Education)
On September 28, 2016, at 1:45 p.m., Jesse Dewitt Osborne, 14, armed with a handgun, allegedly began shooting at the Townville Elementary School playground in Townville, South Carolina. Prior to the shooting, the shooter, a former student, killed his father at their home. Two people were killed, including one student; three were wounded, one teacher and two students. A volunteer firefighter, who possessed a valid firearms permit, restrained the shooter until law enforcement officers arrived and apprehended him.
4. Burnette Chapel Church of Christ (House of Worship)
On September 24, 2017, at 11:15 a.m., Emanuel Kidega Samson, 25, armed with two handguns, allegedly began shooting in the parking lot of the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, Tennes- see. After killing one person, the shooter entered the church and shot six people. A citizen who attempted to subdue the shooter was pistol-whipped. During the altercation, the shooter accidently shot himself. While the shooter was preoccupied, the citizen, who possessed a valid firearms permit, retrieved a handgun from his car and held the shooter at gunpoint until law enforcement arrived. One person was killed; seven were wounded. The shooter was apprehended by law enforcement.
5. Multiple Locations in Clearlake Oaks, California (Commerce)
On October 23, 2017, at 11:23 a.m., Alan Ashmore, 61, armed with a shotgun and a handgun, allegedly began firing into several homes and a vehicle in Clearlake Oaks, California, killing two people, including his father, and wounding one. Another person was wounded while fleeing out of a residence window. The shooter then shot and wounded a responding law enforcement officer before fleeing in his vehicle. The shooter drove to a nearby gas station and exchanged gunfire with the vendor, who possessed a valid firearms permit. The shooter fled the scene in his vehicle and drove to another gas station where he fired more shots.
6. Sister Marie Lenahan Wellness Center (Health Care)
On July 24, 2014, at 2:20 p.m., Richard Steven Plotts, 49, armed with a handgun entered his psychiatrist’s office at Sister Marie Lenahan Wellness Center in Darby, Pennsylvania, and began shooting, killing his caseworker and wounding his doctor. The doctor, who possessed a valid firearms permit, returned fire. One person was killed; 1 was wounded. Employeesrestrained the wounded shooter until law enforcement arrived.
7. North Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago (Open Space)
On April 19, 2015, at 11:50 p.m., Everardo Custodio, 21, armed with a handgun, began shooting into a crowd of people on North Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. No one was killed or wounded. A citizen with a valid firearms permit shot the suspect and restrained him until law enforcement arrived and took him into custody.
Case that the FBI agrees was missed
1. Conyers, Georgia, Sunday, May 31, 2015, The Rockdale Citizen
If a permit holder intervenes and prevents any loss of life from occurring, a shooting may not get much news coverage. But in this case, two people were killed before the permit holder was able to stop the attack.
From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Pitts fled after another patron, Todd C. Scott, of Covington, opened fire with his own hand gun. It is still unclear whether Aikens died before or after Scott returned fire with Pitts, but the sheriff credited Scott with saving lives.
“I consider him to be a hero,” [Rockdale County Sheriff Eric Levett] said.
The FBI did not come across this incident during its research back in 2015, but it does meet the FBI’s active shooter definition. As stated in the 2013 Study Methodology, FBI active Shooter reports do not encompass all mass killings or shootings in public places and therefore are limited in their scope. Nonetheless, these reports are undertaken to provide clarity and data of value to both law enforcement and citizens as they seek to stop these threats and save lives during active shooter incidents. There is no reporting requirement for Law Enforcement agencies to report potential active shooter incidents to the FBI, so some cases will be missed.
Here are five more cases that we believe that the FBI missed, and we have also included the FBI’s responses to us after we brought these cases to their attention.
1. Arlington, Texas, May 3, 2017 (Dallas Morning News)
This attack was stopped before more than one person could be killed. The police spokesman made clear that the concealed handgun permit holder “prevented further loss of life” by taking out the killer, who was “shooting at the front door . . . [as] people were trying to escape.” The headline on the Dallas Morning News story read: “‘Hero’ stopped mass murder by a crazed bar patron who was armed to the teeth, police say.” Emphasis added in bold below.
Before he was shot about 6:15 p.m., the gunman killed the manager of Zona Caliente in the 6500 block of South Cooper Street, police spokesman Christopher Cook said.
Police later identified the gunman as 48-year-old James Jones of Grand Prairie and the victim as 37-year-old Cesar Perez of Duncanville. The man who killed Jones has not been identified.
Authorities later found two loaded guns and two knives on Jones, Cook said Thursday.
“We do believe he had the capacity to do much greater harm,” Cook said.
“After he was struck once, the suspect started shooting at the front door,” Cook told the Arlington Voice. “We know people were trying to escape, but we’re not sure if he was just trying to harm others.”
More than a dozen customers and a handful of employees were in the sports bar at the time of the shooting.
Cook said the customer, who was dining with his wife, “prevented further loss of life.” . . .
Another story in the Arlington Voice mentioned this:
Jones did not have a license to carry. . . .
From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
Does not meet the FBI definition. The shooter had previously complained about the manager to his cousin. Subject knew the manager prior and only shot the manager, no one else.
2. Lyman, South Carolina, June 30, 2016 (Fox Carolina)
Just a couple of weeks after the infamous Orlando massacre, a man, 32-year-old Jody Ray Thompson, started shooting at another nightclub in South Carolina. Fortunately, unlike in Florida, permitted concealed handguns were allowed in bars. Before the attacker could shoot a fourth person, a permit holder was able to shoot back, wounding Thompson in the leg.
Bobo said the man who shot Thompson has a valid concealed weapons permit, cooperated with investigators, and won’t be facing any charges. . . . .
Does not meet FBI definition. Was the result of an altercation. (The shooter got into an argument with someone then fired indiscriminately into the crowd.)
3. Winton, Ohio, Sunday, July 26, 2015, Fox News and Fox 19 in Cincinnati
The shooter in this case directly fired at four different people. Fortunately, because of the permit holder’s quick actions, no one was seriously injured.
[Thomas] McCary [62-years-old] was arguing with a woman around 8 p.m. Sunday night and, when the woman’s brother, Patrick Ewing, approached, McCary pulled out a .38-caliber handgun and fired three shots at him, Cincinnati police said.
Ewing didn’t get hit, but he did get his own gun and returned fire, wounding McCary in the leg. Ewing had a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
Injured, McCary went into his house to get a second gun and, holding a weapon in each hand, he fired three shots in the direction of the woman, Jeaneta Walker, her 1-year-old son and a third man.
Ewing fired at McCary again to try to distract him as the victims fled indoors. McCary squeezed off a few more rounds, hitting no one, before withdrawing into his apartment, Cincinnati.com reported. . . .
Does not meet our definition. Domestic dispute.
4. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, March 22, 2015, NBC Channel 10:
The fight quickly escalated and the 40-year-old man took out his gun and opened fire on customers and barbers, police said. , , ,
As he was shooting, another man outside heard the gunfire, ran into the shop and took out his own gun, according to investigators. He then opened fire, striking the 40-year-old man once in the chest. . . .
“The person who responded was a legal gun permit carrier,” said Philadelphia Police Captain Frank Llewellyn. “He responded and I guess he saved a lot of people in there.“
Does not meet FBI definition. Result of an altercation. The shooter got into an argument with another person inside the shop. The shooter took out his gun and opened fire on the barber.
5. Portland, Oregon, January 11, 2014, Oregonian
Thomas Eliot Hjelmeland, 43-years-old, was ejected from a nightclub, but returned 30 minutes later with a gun and wearing a mask. He shot the bouncer who had ejected him and shot at others. The bouncer was critically wounded by a shot to the head. Two others were also wounded: one patron in the foot and a waitress, who had been standing at the front of the club, in both of her legs. Hjelmeland was on probation at the time of the incident. Bouncer Jonathan Baer used his permitted concealed handgun to fatally shoot Hjelmeland, who had continued firing at people around the club.
Here is a February 1, 2014, article in the Oregonian.
Baer, 31, followed the masked gunman out of the club’s interior doors to the entrance foyer and drew his own Glock .40-caliber pistol from his hip. He looked back one or two times to check on Rizzo, who hadn’t gotten up.
While using one foot to prop open the club’s inner door, Baer said he saw the masked man reach the front door. The man stopped and looked as if he were going to turn around. Baer said he leaned forward and fired two to three rounds.
Baer, who has a concealed handgun license, . . .
Baer later explained to detectives that he had thought about two dancers and two customers who were standing outside the club smoking. He said he didn’t want anyone else to get hurt. . . .
And this January 21, 2014, article in the Oregonian.
In a Facebook post, Baer wrote, “I did what I felt was right to stop the shooter…I carry every day, and will continue to, and will so with the hope that I will NEVER have to pull it out again.” . . .
Does not meet FBI definition. Shooter just went after the bouncer who had ejected him from the nightclub earlier in that evening.
Other possible cases in which a permit holder saved lives
New Holland, Wisconsin, May 5th, 2015, Fox Carolina
In this case, the permit holders didn’t even have to fire their guns.
The Aiken County Sheriff’s Office said deputies responded to the New Holland Fire Department’s Station 2 around 6:30 p.m. for a report of shots fired.
Firefighters said Chad Barker pulled up to the crowded fire station parking lot full of children and firefighters, got out of his car, and began firing in the air and at his vehicle. They say he also pointed the firearm at individual firefighters for lengthy periods of time.
“I came out of the office, saw the man with the gun, told everybody to leave out the back quickly that there was a man in the parking lot with a gun, and I was not kidding,” said Gary Knoll, a firefighter for New Holland.
Knoll said he and another firefighter who have concealed weapons permits pulled their guns on the gunman.
Knoll said Barker returned to his vehicle and firefighters carefully followed him with their weapons still drawn. After encouraging Barker to put the gun down, Knoll said Barker ultimately complied and Knoll grabbed the gun. . . .
Does not meet FBI definition. The suspect didn’t shoot at anyone. Shot in the air and shot his own car.
The people at the scene felt threatened and believed that the permit holders saved the lives of the children and firefighters. The attacker pointed his gun at people for “lengthy periods of time.” There are plenty of cases on the FBI’s list of active shooters where no one was injured or killed in the shooting.
There are two other shootings that the FBI lists but does not count as having been stopped by permit holders:
We did not receive responses to our analyses of these two cases.
1. Cici’s Pizza and Walmart (Commerce)
On June 8, 2014, at 11:20 a.m., husband and wife, Jerad Dwain Miller, 31 and Amanda Renee Miller (female), 22, each armed with a handgun, one with a shotgun, began shooting at Cici’s Pizza in Las Vegas, Nevada, killing 2 law enforcement officers who were having lunch. The shooters took the officers’ weapons and ammunition and fled to a nearby Walmart, where they killed an armed citizen who tried to intervene. Three people were killed; no one was wounded. The male shooter was killed in an exchange of gunfire with law enforcement; the female shooter committed suicide during an exchange of gunfire with law enforcement.
The permit holder, Joseph Robert Wilcox, confronted Jerad Miller and made it necessary for Amanda Miller to circle around Wilcox so that she could shoot him from behind. The time it took for Amanda Miller to get behind Wilcox gave Walmart shoppers some additional time to escape.
2. Memorial Tire and Auto (Commerce)
On May 29, 2016, at 10:15 a.m., Dionisio Agustine Garza III, 25, armed with a rifle and a handgun, began shooting at Memorial Tire and Auto in Houston, Texas. One person was killed; six were wounded, including two law enforcement officers and an armed civilian who was wounded while attempting to stop the shooter. The shooter was killed in an exchange of gunfire with law enforcement officers.
By engaging the killer and forcing him to exchange fire, the permit holder may have saved others from being shot (KHOU-TV):
“He could have prevented more people from being shot,” Guerra said. “He’s a hero, even though he was shot. He’s a hurting hero.” . . .
One thing that the FBI doesn’t mention is that all of these active shooters were illegally carrying their guns. All of the civilians who stopped the attacks were legally carrying theirs. None of the perpetrators were following the gun control laws.
Clearly, the FBI’s reports have missed at least half of the cases where a concealed handgun permit holder stopped an active shooter attack. Concealed handgun permit holders have stopped or mitigated between 15.6% and 16.5% of recent attacks of this type. Permit holders save lives by responding quickly at the scene of the attack.
Our original report in the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences Today, March 2015, focused the claimed increases in active shootings over the years from 2000 to 2013, but the problems with the FBI report obviously go much farther than that.