Rampage at Virginia Walmart follows upward trend in supermarket gun attacks – here's what we know about retail mass shooters

James Densley, Professor of Criminal Justice, Metropolitan State University and Jillian Peterson, Professor of Criminal Justice, Hamline University , The Conversation on

Published in Political News

Two-thirds of the shooters were suicidal – 26% had a prior suicide attempt and another 37% intended to die during the shooting – and around 30% were experiencing psychosis, although perpetrators were only acting on their hallucinations or delusions in 11% of retail shootings. Half of the perpetrators had a known prejudice against a racial or religions group.

The motive in the Virginia incident is not known, but reports suggest the perpetrator was a Walmart employee. In our data, workplace shootings are motivated by an employment issue such as being fired or suspended in 70% of incidents, and by an interpersonal conflict with another employee 23% of the time. Nearly three-quarters of perpetrators show changes in behavior or warning signs prior to the shooting, such as increased agitation.

Our research suggests many strategies to prevent these types of mass shootings – from anonymous reporting systems for employees to workplace crisis response teams. However, restricting access to firearms for high-risk people would be the most effective strategy overall.

Editor’s note: Parts of this article were included in a story that was first published on May 15, 2022.

This article is republished from The Conversation, an independent nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Jillian Peterson, Hamline University and James Densley, Metropolitan State University . Like this article? subscribe to our weekly newsletter.


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Jillian Peterson receives funding from National Institute of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Statistics

James Densley receives funding from the National Institute of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Assistance.


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