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August 2nd, 2012
11:49 PM ET

How to detect threatening behavior

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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Filed under: Colorado Shooting
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  1. Cynthia M. Ramirez

    Totally find the behavior of the church and their views of such horrible punishment- or any abusive methods sickening. But, why do you (and other) programs always focus on Christians? Why not Muslims? Why not Jewish? Is it because it is easy to pick apart one or two of the small minority off the wall sects within the HUGE Christian factions? This no doubt makes ALL Christians look bad. And that seems to be the goal. Hate on Christians.
    If that is not the goal, why isn't there this type of show on the off the wall, over the top behavior by other religions? Why not focus on what "Jihad" really means? Why not focus on how the Muslim religions teach their children to condone violence and hate against their fellow Americans- the infidels?
    Why not focus on any other religion or religious sect beside these FEW fanatical Christians churches? Why not focus on a black church? Why just white?
    You know there are many,many Christian churches that teach peace and love. No violence, and no judgment. Why not focus on those churches? Why help stir up hate against the huge, huge majority of peace loving Chrisiians?

    August 3, 2012 at 9:19 pm |