A Secret Service study of more than three dozen school shootings found that attackers almost always signaled their intent by engaging in threatening or other suspicious behavior, USA Today reports. In 80 percent of the cases, according to the report, the attackers’ behavior was so alarming that it “elicited concern from bystanders regarding the safety of the attacker or those around them,” but in many cases those bystanders did not act on their suspicions.
Authorities analyzed incidents involving current and former student assailants in which a knife or firearm was used between 2008 and 2017. Those attacks left 19 dead and 79 wounded. The Secret Service concluded security measures alone were not enough to stop the violence. The most common defenses were school lockdown plans and electronic alert systems that use text messages or phone calls to notify students, teachers and other staffers about potential emergencies. At least 80 percent of the schools targeted had some type of security measure, from surveillance cameras to metal detectors. Half of the schools reported having one or more security officers on duty at the time of the attacks. At least nine of the schools had threat assessment programs, in which staffers were assigned to identify potentially harmful conduct. But the Secret Service found that training and participation in those programs varied dramatically.