A little extra attention to the warning signs could ensure that innocent lives aren't taken away and families are not left bereaved.
The disheartening thing about violent attacks on innocent people is that there was always the slightest possibility that it could have been stopped, prevented, or staved off. If the recent shooting that took place at the Walmart in El Paso had not taken place, 22 people would not have been killed and ripped away from their families' lives, while dozens of others were wounded. Now, recent reports show that maybe it could have been avoided.
The mother of the suspect involved in the El Paso shooting had contacted the Police Department in Allen, Texas just weeks before her son opened fire in the crowded store.
She had found that her son was in possession of an "AK" type firearm and was rightfully concerned about whether he was mature or experienced enough to have a weapon like that at his age, according to CNN.
Since the suspect, Patrick Crusius is 21 years old, his mother was told that he was legally old enough to have the weapon, according to The New York Post. Her call seemed mostly "informational" in nature, and she didn't express any worry about her son possibly being a threat. She was mostly concerned about whether he could have a firearm, given that he has neither had any firearm safety training, nor the emotional or intellectual maturity for it.
"This was not a volatile, explosive, erratic behaving kid," said attorney, Chris Ayres. "It's not like alarm bells were going off." Apart from owning his own weapon, Times reported that the suspect had even moved out of his grandparents' home a few weeks before the shooting, as reported by The Week.
The incident shows how family members can possibly play an important role in preventing acts like this. Paying closer attention to any strange behavior, change in mannerisms, or undesirable intentions can stop a horrifying act from being carried out, like the recent case where a grandmother was able to stop her grandson from carrying out his plan to "shoot up" a hotel.
The FBI points out that “there is no single warning sign, checklist, or algorithm,” to figure out whether someone could potentially be a mass shooter before they carry out an attack, according to Quartz. However, in the weeks that lead up to the attack, there could be a combination of changes in their behavior and interaction.
According to The Atlantic, Dr. Peter Langman, a psychologist who has studied mass shootings, said that many shooters seem to be "typically failing in academics, failing in the world of work, failing in the world of friendship, in romance, or sexuality. Nothing really is going right in any major domain for them."
Given the current climate of the country, it's important to be aware of the warning signs. Dr. Peter Langman reported that some of the warning signs at home include showing an obsession with guns and violence, displaying severe anger management issues, or depressive symptoms, and having dangerous items that shouldn't be in their room.
Before their attacks, several shooters in the past have posted texts, photographs, or videos online. "People might think that someone who is planning to commit mass murder is not going to publicize this," wrote Dr. Peter Langman, who said that this was a wrong assumption. It could be a warning sign when someone posts explicit content online.
Sometimes, they might even tell some about their plan. However, in the past, most of these comments only came to light after the shootings took place.
Dr. Peter Langman wrote, "predicting violence is difficult". But if you see a combination of signs, don't ignore it. There's no telling how many lives can be saved with a little bit of precaution.
Patrick Crusius' family said in a statement, according to NBC News, “There will never be a moment for the rest of our lives when we will forget each and every victim of this senseless tragedy.”