School threats surge nationwide as police notice trend after active shooter events

Published: Dec. 10, 2021 at 5:33 PM EST
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ROANOKE CO., Va. (WDBJ) - A deadly school shooting in Michigan with four students being killed and seven others injured has set off a rise in school threats.

An increase in threats, like those reported at schools in Lynchburg and Danville, is happening all across the country, and criminal justice professionals who train for and study these incidents say it’s no coincidence.

“Individuals that are suffering mental health crises that do have those homicidal ideations look at that incident, look at Oxford and go: ‘You know what... maybe I didn’t want to do that before but maybe I’m starting to think about it,’” describes Roanoke County Police Commander Chris Kuyper, who says intense coverage of mass shootings can heavily influence others to become more motivated to cause their own or cause fear in their community.

“There are similarities between suicidal ideation and homicidal ideation, it’s kind of the same contagion effect,” says Commander Kuyper. “It’s not necessarily a copycat because what they do is... maybe they’re inspired by those previous events, but what they want to do is put their own stamp on things.”

“Active shooters, they study other shooter events. So when you have an active shooter incident like Oxford, for example, that is going to bring out some people who make those types of threats but don’t carry them out. What we have to worry about in law enforcement is the ones who will carry out those threats,” he adds.

That’s why Commander Kuyper works with the FBI, annually instructing other law enforcement agencies, civilians, and schools nationwide on the Run, Hide, Fight protocol for active shooter situations, and not giving any more attention to the perpetrators.

“That’s what they want, they want the fifteen minutes of fame, and as an active shooter instructor, I’m not going to give them that privilege at all,” says Commander Kuyper. “We don’t put the spotlight on the active shooters at all, but on the victims and the heroes involved in those incidents.”

Commander Kuyper’s team offers those civilian active shooter training sessions for free. If your organization or business would like to learn more, you can contact Roanoke County PD.

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