UWM police chief: School shooters often telegraph intent

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Associated Press | September 19, 2013

MILWAUKEE  — School shooters almost always telegraph their violent plans ahead of time, a tendency that could help authorities prevent assaults as long as those close to the person plotting an attack come forward in time, panelists said Tuesday at a summit for the nation's attorneys general.

There's a general perception that shooters are people who just snap after having a bad day, said Susan Riseling, police chief at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Instead the opposite is true: These individuals are so meticulous about their crimes that they'll often study the shooting site ahead of time to strategize their actions, she said.

"Please remember that nobody snaps. This is a process," Riseling said at the summit of the National Association of Attorneys General in downtown Milwaukee. "If you know what to look for you will see it coming. The good news about that is that if you can see it coming you can stop it."

The focus of the summit, which attracted attorneys general from 18 U.S. states and territories, was keeping children safe.

Riseling said she studied thousands of mass shootings over two decades and found that shooters always follow the same five steps: They fantasize about the attack, plan it, prepare for it, practice it and finally carry it out.

She was even willing to make a prediction about the former Navy reservist who killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday morning before dying in a gun battle with police.

"They're going to carve up this person's life and they're going to find all of these indications," Riseling said. "... We will find out the Navy yard shooter yesterday went through these five stages."

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