A latent class analysis of mass shooters in the United States from 1966 - 2021: examining perpetrator characteristics

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O'Keeffe, Bailey
Finch, W. Holmes (William Holmes)
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Thesis (Ph. D.)
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The present study used latent class analysis as an exploratory method for identifying qualitatively different classes of mass shooters in the United States. Based on findings from previous research, 15 psychosocial variables related to the health and trauma history of mass shooters were selected for this model. Using a sample of 179 perpetrators from the Mass Shooter Database created by The Violence Project (2019), two latent classes of mass shooters were identified. Results show that class 1 (n=54) were more likely to have experienced health issues and adversities (particularly childhood trauma) compared to class 2 (n=125). Class 1 perpetrators also injured over double the number of people class 2 injured during mass shootings, potentially indicating that the more violent mass shooters may be those with a higher prevalence of childhood traumas. These psychosocial variables and the use of latent class analyses merit more attention in future studies on the profiles of mass shooters.