In the wake of the deadly Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting, Anderson Cooper talks to Brett Sokolow, Executive Director of The National Behavioral Intervention Team Association, threat assessment expert Barry Spodak, and Peter Read, whose daughter Mary Karen Read was killed in the Virginia Tech shooting. They offer insight on how to prevent future attacks by recognizing warning signs.
Earlier this week, CNN affiliate KMGH reported that the suspected gunman’s psychiatrist, Dr. Lynne Fenton, alerted University of Colorado’s threat assessment team with concerns that he could potentially be a danger to others. Sources told KMGH that no one contacted police about Fenton’s notification, and that the university threat team did not act because the suspect had already taken steps to withdraw from school and they had “no control over him.”
Citing the 2008 shooting at Northern Illinois University in which a student returned to campus a year-and-a-half after leaving and killed five people, Spodak suggests that threat assessment teams “think through the broader implications” of not sharing concerns about a student. “Wouldn’t you like to have every bit of information you can gather, within the campus setting, to understand their state of mind at the time that they leave?” he said.
Spodak advises campus behavioral threat assessment teams to look for red flags like purchasing or gaining access to weapons, or the individual’s capacity to carry out an organized plan. Spodak also says those who carry out these types of shootings often have suffered a significant loss that they were struggling with. He wonders if those who were in contact with the Colorado shooting suspect before his deadly rampage noticed a sense of loss or failure with him that he was struggling with? Did they miss the red flags?
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