Most Americans are not aware that the United States had more mass killings in 2019 than any other time since the 1970’s. Even though public attacks have increased in America overall, the deaths and injuries from the attacks in 2019 would be much higher if not for ordinary citizens following the “see something, say something” standard. Several mass shootings were prevented at the end of 2019 because of individuals who informed authorities of suspicious behavior. Often, criminals predictably follow the same process before the attack. If citizens are aware of these signs, they can help prevent many tragedies from occurring.

The Attack Cycle

This cycle can be applied to terrorist attacks or workplace/school shootings. The cycle begins with surveillance which includes targeting their victims, planning the attack, and implementation. After the attack occurs, the attacker escapes and exploits the event.  Obviously, this cycle can vary in how the attacker carries it out, but by and large, most perpetrators follow these steps, even if they are more experienced and with many resources.

Many perpetrators also reach out to others to coordinate the attacks or talk about them publicly, such as on social media. According to Stratfor Global Intelligence, leakage refers to statements by the individual which “reveal a potential attacker’s feelings, thoughts, fantasies, attitudes or intentions…” This leakage often provides many warning signs for others to be aware of so the assault can be prevented.

Even though we live in a scary time when mass attacks have increased, we need to know that these do not come about in a vacuum. They CAN be identified and prevented. The public has the opportunity to educate themselves so that they can know the warning signs, report to the authorities and help prevent future attacks. We are not helpless. We can help law enforcement by knowing the signs and behaviors of potential assailants. Many have helped save lives by simply paying attention, seeing something and saying something.

Atlas Aegis offers many services that help empower our clients and make our world a safer and more secure place.