Methodology

 

   Among violent tragedies in America, few are as horrible as shootings that kill and injure students at our nation’s institutions of learning. In a civilized society it’s simply intolerable that so many parents send a child to school in the morning, off to college, or to a vocational school only to learn that that their beloved child was killed , injured, or was witness to a mindless act of violence utilizing a firearm. Another intolerable aspect about shootings at our schools is the debate over the emotionally charged term “school shooting” and the disgraceful research efforts of activist groups, academia, and the government.

     As I have waded through the available literature and research on shootings at American schools over the last decade while doing this research the two constants have been disappointment in the dismal efforts of academic researchers and biased information from activists groups (like Everytown for Gun Safety) and the government (K-12 School Shooting Database) who conflate the data by adding incidents where a gun was only brandished and/or doing extremely vague and misleading work. Why have academic professionals, activist researchers, and the U.S government. produced so little effort and quality empirical data to protect the very best among us, our children?

      With all the confusion about the emotionally charged term "school shooting" I have attempted to create a database of all the different types of shootings at America's institutions of learning in the hope to clear up the misinformation and biased research efforts out there about these unfortunate events. Utilizing an Excel spreadsheet with 60 columns has made it possible to document over 1,650 on-campus shootings, shootings at school-sponsored events (like the Prom, talent shows, sporting events, etc…), or shootings on (or at) school buses dating back 178 years from 1840 to present day with over 1,240 of the shootings occurring since 1990. 

     The database covers all classifications of shootings at America’s schools (see list below) and includes all levels and types of education institutions. If it is a learning environment in America it is included. The database includes shootings at K-12 schools, colleges and universities, community colleges, specialty and vocational schools, military schools, bible or theological schools, preschools and even daycare centers. There are also separate spreadsheets on the site of the active shooter and mass school shootings along with the different defintions that are used by different groups and organizations to define what a mass shooting is. These are the shootings that grab the headlines and are what are considered and thought of when you hear the term"school shooting".

    The database includes fights (spontaneous or feuds) that resulted in a shooting, accidental shootings, suicides, gang related disputes, police shootings, shootings that have nothing to do with the school other than the location, shootings arising from behavioral problems, drug-related disputes, terrorist acts, domestic disputes stemming from rejection (or divorce), and many other types of shootings at America’s schools.

      This may seem too broad of a scope for some but the detailed, transparent, and specific nature of the spreadsheet makes it easy to determine and classify the different types of shootings happening at American schools, training centers, and colleges. The database also documents the distinct characteristics and facts about each shooting. The design of the database also makes it easy to select or omit shootings based on the criteria one would like to study or whatever definition a group chooses to define a "school shooting" as. 

      To facilitate verification of the information in the database at www.schoolshootingdatabase.com an extensive bibliography of over 20,000 open source articles, court records, police documents, official reports and books on the subject, etc...  also has been createdNo other research project about shootings at America's schools can claim the specificity and depth that this project can.

    

Parameters for a Shooting to be Included in the Database:

  • Included if a firearm was discharged on school property (inside or outside) no matter the type or cause of the shooting.
  • Includes shootings at all levels of K-12 institutions
  • Includes shootings at preschools
  • Includes shootings at four year colleges and universities
  • Includes shootings at community colleges
  • Includes shootings at vocational (or trade) schools
  • Includes shootings at military schools
  • Includes shootings at private and public institutions
  • Includes shootings at district offices (ex. the 2010 Bay District Schools shooting by Clay Duke at a school board meeting)
  • Includes shootings at school-sponsored events, like the prom, talent shows, athletic events, school plays, field trips, etc… even if the shooting occurred off campus. These shootings are included because it is a school-sponsored function (there are relatively few shootings where the school function was held off campus).
  • Example- The prom shooting in Edinboro, PA on April 24th, 1998 at Nick’s Place (a banquet hall) by Andrew Jarome Wurst which killed 1 and injured 3)  
  • If a firearm is discharged at the school from off campus and a bullet strikes the school building or people on campus it is included in the database no matter the cause or classification (or type) of shooting. 
  • Example 1:The Active Shooter Event (ASE) at Grover Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego, CA in 1979 committed by Brenda Spencer that killed 2 and injured 9. 
  • Example 2:The Mass School Shooting on March 24th, 1998 in Jonesboro, AR at Westside Middle School committed by Andrew Golden and Mitchell Johnson (shooting from the woods nearby) that killed 5 and injured 11 children during recess.
  • Example 3:The stray bullet shooting of Taylor Borgeson while “he stood on the sidelines” watching a soccer game. Taylor was struck in the mouth with a bullet that “was fired about 3,200 feet away from the school field. Around that same time “gunfire was reported” near Druid Elementary School which is about a mile away. Omaha Police believed the “shots fired near Druid Elementary School are related to the shooting” 
  • Includes police shootings (are marked by the letters being the color blue)
  • Includes accidental shootings
  • Includes gang related shootings
  • Includes suicides (where no one else was injured)
  • Includes shootings that have nothing to do with the school other than the location
  • Includes shootings on school buses en route to or from the school but NOT at bus stops (unless at the school)
  • Includes shootings that happen after school hours and in the early morning hours
  • Includes shootings with no deaths and injuries
  • Includes stray bullets that strike the school (usually involve target practice or hunting accidents)
  • Includes drive-by shootings where the school building or people get struck with a bullet
  • The design of the database also makes it easy to select or omit shootings by selecting the Save As button and saving the spreadsheet under a different name based on the criteria one would like to study or whatever definition a group chooses to define a "school shooting" as.

Database Does Not Include:

  • No Shots Fired Incidents Involving Firearms (or where a gun is only brandished)
  • Off Campus (or near) School Shooting Incidents (across the street, etc…)
  • BB Gun School Shootings
  • I have constructed separate spreadsheets for shootings that happen off-campus (or near) schools, no shots fired incidents involving firearms that occur on school grounds, and bb gun school shootings that too often get mixed in with actual on-campus shootings in other school violence research projects (see below)
  • Shootings at Bus Stops (unless the bus is at the school)

       

 

Data Sources

Methods & Search Keywords for Gathering Data & How I Obtain My Information

Online Searches

              Here are some examples of what I put into a search engine (google, bing, etc…) to gather information:

  • 1999 Heritage High School shooting
  • 1999 Conyers, GA school shooting
  • 1999 T.J. Solomon (shooter's name) school shooting
  • 1999 Drake Hoy (victim's name) school shooting 
  • 1999 Drake Hoy (victim’s name), Heritage High School
  • 1999 Drake Hoy (victim’s name), Heritage High School shooting
  • 1999 Conyers, GA, Drake Hoy (victim’s name), Heritage High
  • 1999 T.J. Solomon (shooter’s name), sentenced
  • 1999 mental illness, school shooting, T.J. Solomon
  • 1999 Heritage High School Shooting, T.J. Solomon
  • My search engine strategies are numerous and always expanding.
  • I use any and all information available including the school’s name, shooter’s name, victim’s name, and names of others involved to search for information (the victim's name is probably the best way). 
  • The more creative and expansive your search is using any and all facts and information about the shooting available including the school’s name, shooter’s name, victim’s name, and names of others involved the greater your search results will be.
  • It also helps greatly to mix and match the known facts together into your search.
  • If there is multiple victims in a particular shooting use every victim’s name individually and together. 
  • Sometimes I even purposefully misspell the name of victims, the shooter’s name, and the name of the school while searching for information. I have been amazed by what I have found by simply misspelling names!
  • google alerts (using the terms below)
  • school shootings
  • school violence
  • shooting at school
  • firearm violence
  • mass school shootings

    Regular search engines (google, bing, etc..) will only take you so far. The city (or town) of the shooting, school's name, victim's name(s), and the shooter's name(s) are the best ways to find information. It is best to always include the year of the shooting into the search but it is useful sometimes to exclude the year. 

   Sometimes I do not include the words "school shooting" but use the shooter's name (or victim's name or both) and school's name together. Sometimes I use the shooter’s name, victim’s name, school’s name, alone. The key is persistence and repetition, and to always look for new search methods and trying different things to find information.

 

Newspaper Archives

  •  newspapers.com (best source of information)
  • newspaperarchive.com
  • New York Times archive
  • High Beam Research
  • elephind.com
  • I use similar tactics mentioned above with newspaper archives. 
  • The main focus with archives are the shooter's and victim(s) names although using the school’s name is sometimes valueable

     I have recently been looking for new entries using newspapers.com. The new tactic I have been employing is typing in the year,say “1978”, and the term “school shooting”. It comes back with a lot of possibilities (several thousand most of the time) and I go thru them. It is very time consuming but worth it. It is also useful to use keywords like “student shooting” and the like. I have only done this for a 7 years so far and have added nearly 50 school shootings to the database. I have been stunned the number of unknown on-campus shootings I have found doing this! I had 5 shootings for the year 1980 but now have 20 shootings for 1980 because of the new tactic. A similar thing happened for 1978. I had 6 shootings for 1978 but now have 16. 

    One draw back to this method is that you have to screen the potential shootings very closely because there are numerous shooting incidents that happen near schools, no shots fired incidents involving guns at schools , an bb gun shootings within the search results. Google Alerts is also very useful but has the same drawbacks. 

 

Court Documents (when available)

 

Police Reports (when available)

  • thru online searches

 

Officials Reports

  • thru online searches

 

Verification

      To facilitate verification of the information in the database at www.schoolshootingdatabase.com an extensive bibliography of over 20,000 open source articles, court records, police documents, official reports and books on the subject, etc...  has been createdNo other research project about shootings at America’s schools can claim the specificity and depth that this project can.

  • I aim for as many sources, articles, and documents that I can find

 although some (a very small number and mostly older) shootings have only one source.

  • As a general rule, I want at least three independent articles with matching facts and details
  • It is very important NOT to use the details of first reports (or breaking news) of a school shooting (any type) because they are very often wrong and misleading. The only things that are usually correct with breaking news reports are the date of the shooting, name of the city or town, and name of the school (although sometimes I have seen them get even this wrong).
  • The best sources of information are court documents, police records, and official reports
  • Articles on the first anniversary of a shooting are also very good sources of information. By this time facts are well known.
  • I also seek out articles on the 10th, 20th, & 30thanniversary of a shooting. 
  • Wikipedia is NOT used
  • Information from biased websites or activist groups are NOT used

 

Definitions of Mass School Shootings

    This section takes a look at the different definitions that are used to define Mass School Shootings. 

  • Mass School Shooting-Definition 1 (MSS-D1):  defined as four or more killed with the intent to hurt and kill people indiscriminately, not including the shooter if they commit suicide.
  • Mass School Shooting-Definition 2 (MSS-D2): defined as three or more killed with the intent to hurt and kill people indiscriminately, not including the shooter if they commit suicide.
  • Mass School Shooting-Definition 3 (MSS-D3); defined as four or more injured and/or killed with the intent to hurt and kill people indiscriminately, not including the shooter if they commit suicide.
  • Mass School Shooting-Definition 4 (MSS-D4): defined as three or more injured and/or killed with the intent to hurt and kill people indiscriminately, not including the shooter if they commit suicide.
  • The acronyms used to identify the different definitions of Mass School Shootings in the database are found in the Columns C-F and are used to track the number of mass shootings at schools that meet the criteria. 
  • The reason for having the different classifications of Mass School Shootings is the on-going debate of what constitutes a mass shooting. 

 

Active Shooter Events (ASE)

  • Are defined as two or more injured and/or killed with the intent to hurt and kill people indiscriminately, not including the shooter if they commit suicide 
  • ASE shootings are marked the color orange in the database.
  • Mass School Shootings are also included in this category.

 

Potential Active Shooter Events (PASE)

    Are defined as shootings that had the potential and warning signs to become an active shooter/mass shooting attack but the shooter did not carry out the attack due to one of several reasons listed below:

  • the shooter committed suicide before the attack was about to be carried out
  • students or others who knew about the potential shooting alerted school officials
  • the shooter was talked out of doing it by teachers and/or school administrators
  • police intervention.
  • PASE shootings are marked the color red in the database.

 

 

High Casualty & Injury Shootings(HCIS)

     Are defined as shootings with a high number of deaths and injuries but are not Active Shooter Events or Mass School Shootings. These types of shootings usually are: 

  • bombings (HCIS-B)
  • fights 
  • gang related shootings 
  • terrorist acts
  • felonious crimes
  • protests about civil rights and war (like the Kent State shooting in 1970
  • HCIS incidents are marked by the color dark green in the database.

 

Main Databases (or lists) of Shootings at America’s Schools I’ve Gone Through:

   Each and every one of these lists below have shootings that have happened off campus, no shots fired incidents involving firearms, or bb gun shootings. The reason being is that they do not delve deep enough into each shooting and critique them with the necessary scrutiny needed.When a shooting in the database at schoolshootingdatabase.com is found not occur on a school campus or at a school-sponsored event, be an incident involving a firearm at a school with no shots fired, or a bb gun shooting here it is marked in Notes 1 or Notes 2:           

  • "Move to No Shots Fired (NSF) spreadsheet"
  • “Move to Off Campus (or near) spreadsheet"
  • “Move to BB Gun Shooting spreadsheet”

     The shooting incident is then removed and placed into the correct separate spreadsheet after confirmation. I believe adding these types of shooting incidents with actual shootings at U.S. schools hinders the quality and integrity of any research project. Adding these types of shooting incidents is very dishonest and will distort your database’s results and create confusion on a topic that is already murky and difficult to understand.

     This has happened in all school shooting research projects I have examined. I have learned over nearly a decade of research that it is a part of the process. It is why I doggedly browse the internet and newspaper archives for police reports, court documents, official reports and use several different newspaper and legal document archives to find as many articles and sources for each school shooting as I can possibly find to confirm the information within the database. Not doing so is a fundamental research flaw and a disservice to America's students.

  1. columbine-angels.com (This was the best source available at the beginning of my research and was a great foundational stepping stone to conduct further research)
  2. Wikipedia’s Four List about School Shootings
  • List of school shootings in the United States
  • List of Attacks related to primary schools
  • List of attacks related to secondary schools
  • List of attacks related to post-secondary schools

3   National School Safety and Security Services (schoolsecurity.org)

School Year-Associated Violent Deaths, Shooting Incidents, & Other High-Profile Incidents

  • School Deaths: 1999-2000
  • School Deaths: 2000-2001
  • School Deaths: 2001-2002
  • School Deaths 2002-2003
  • School Deaths 2003-2004
  • School Deaths: 2004-2005
  • School Deaths 2005-2006
  • School Deaths: 2006-2007
  • School Deaths 2007-2008
  • School Deaths 2008-2009
  • School Deaths 2009-2010
  1. The National School Safety Center’s Report on School Associated Violent Deaths (SAVD)
  • 1992-1993 School Year Through the 2009-2010 School Year
  1. Gun Violence Archive
  2. Everytown For Gun Safety (several lists)
  3. And many more smaller lists

 

 

Types of Shootings that Occur at America’s Schools:

 

     There is rarely, if ever, a single cause for a shooting at a school. Violence, especially with a firearm, is a complex and multi-faceted problem with many contributing factors and causes. It is very common for a shooting to have more than one of the causes below. 

  • An example of this would be the motive of Parkland, FL shooter who sought notoriety, had revenge in his heart, and obviously has a mental illness. 
  • Also, things like the many mistakes from the Broward County authorities, the FBI, and MSD school administrators and employees could easily, and should be, considered as a contributing factor to the Parkland massacre.
  • Another example of this is a kid taking a gun to school because of being bullied and then he accidently discharges the gun while it was in his backpack. So, this shooting would be classified as Accidental (because he fired the weapon unintentionally), and Bullying (because it was the reason he brought the firearm to school). 

 

Types (or Causes) of School Shooting Incidents

  • Fights

                       -Revenge or Feud

  -Spontaneous Altercation

  -Custody Battle

  -Domestic Dispute

  -Work Related

   -Road rage

   -Self-Defense

   -Rivalry

  • Accidental
  • Mental Illness
  • Notoriety (Fame)
  • Rejection (losing a girl or boyfriend or getting divorced)
  • Gang related
  • Robbery
  • Protesting Administrative Authority
  • Suicides

                   -Suicide Attempt

                   -Suicide Pact

                   -Suicidal Ideation

  • Police Shootings

                   -Police Standoff

                    -Hostage Situation

                    -Suicide by Cop

  • Bullying

                -Harrassment

                    -Hazing

  • Serious (Felony) Crimes

   -Sexual assault or Rape

   -Kidnapping

   -Stalking

   -Vandalism

   -Hi-jacking   

  • Drugs 
  • Terrorism
  • Protests

-Civil Rights

 -Against War (Vietnam, etc…)

  • Random Act
  • Racial Tensions
  • Miscellaneous

-Tuition Refund

-Loss of Child

- Bigamy

-Showing Off

-Bad Home Life

-Family Dispute

-Parental Abuse

-Fear of Getting Caught

-On a Dare

-Trying to Escape

-To highlight the lack of security at the school (teacher shot herself in the arm)

-Didn’t like the teacher (the teacher was beloved by all)

-Stray Bullet

-Loaning Money

-Failing Out of School

-Motive Not Known

 

 

 

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© 2018 All Rights Reserved Eric Laurine www.schoolshootingdatabase.com; ericlaurine5181@gmail.com Brilliant, OH