September 25, 2022
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Law enforcement and mental health experts say there are patterns behind the behavior of mass shooters

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Councilman Tim Fitch points to controlled, gated access and security cameras surrounding school buildings along with military guards as tools that can work.

ST. LOUIS — Mental health experts and law enforcement say there are often patterns when it comes to the behavior of a mass shooter.

There’s also the question of school safety. St. Louis County Councilman Tim Fitch, who once served as Police Chief for the county, points to controlled, gated access and security cameras surrounding school buildings along with military guards patrolling school grounds as measures he’s seen work worldwide.

As the mass shooting unfolded at Robb Elementary School, Fitch watched with familiarity.

“The police response now is ‘get there as soon as you can’. The first officer on the scene goes in and takes on the gunman,” he said.

Fitch now consults other police departments on how to respond to an active shooter.

“Many times they’ll start with ‘I’m going to after this individual, this particular individual,’ a family member and the rage just builds. The rage builds and ‘what am I going to do next? What can I do to the give the community, who I’m mad as hell at, the most shock factor?’ That’s why they target these schools,” he said.

Authorities say the 18-year-old suspect in this case, Salvador Ramos, had just shot his grandmother before killing children and a teacher.

Dr. Jameca Cooper is the Director of Emergence Psychological Services in Clayton and teaches at Webster University.

“They know that if they go in and hurt other people that they’re definitely going to be killed in the process, so sometimes it’s a matter of self-destruction and suicide. They just want to do it that way. Other times, it’s a matter of ‘I’m going to hurt as many people can on my way out,'” she said.

Dr. Cooper says this behavior is beyond typical mental health cases. She calls it an extreme scenario.

“Sometimes it’s a vendetta. It’s revenge against teachers that you had when you were in the 1st grade, who didn’t treat you right. It could be peers that teased or bullied you and now you want to seek revenge on the context or the environment in which that happened,” Cooper added.

Fitch says he will be advocating for ARPA funds to be used for stepped-up security at county schools. He wants the governor to advocate for all Missouri localities to do the same.

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