The Virginia News Crew Shooting

Written by Greg Ellifritz

Topics: News and Tactical Advice

  • SumoMe

Written by: Greg Ellifritz

I’m not going to write an in-depth article on the recent Virginia news crew killings.  While the attack loosely qualifies as an “active killer” event, the victims weren’t randomly chosen.  This was the work of a man who had a serious mental illness.  He was trying to make a statement, but wasn’t going for the massive body count that we see in most active killer crimes.


There are however, a couple of interesting things to note about the attack. This article does a good job summing them up.  Here are a few highlights:


– Extensive advance planning (the car was rented one month in advance and he wrote a 23- page manifesto). Like every other active killer in recent history, this wasn’t a person who “just snapped.”


– Effective escape planning.  He drove his personal car to the scene and then quickly ditched it in an airport parking lot where he had pre-positioned the rental car.  He also had three sets of stolen license plates to enable him to switch car “identities.”


– There were wigs and women’s clothes in the car. The same items were found in the hotel room of the most recent movie theater shooter. Male active shooters are planning to disguise themselves as women to facilitate their escape. That’s a trend cops need to be aware of….and one that makes quickly capturing these murderers even more difficult.


– He had six extra magazines for his pistol and was wearing body armor when he committed the crime. He was prepared for a shootout (or to kill more victims) and had enough armor and ammo to ensure he wouldn’t be stopped by the random cop or CCW permit holder who might stumble across his path.


– He recorded the killing on a Go-Pro camera and then broadcast the video on Facebook and Twitter.  I believe he is the first mass killer to do such a thing.  It’s not surprising, however.  These killers crave notoriety and the immediacy of social media ensures they quickly get it.


It also presents a problem for cops…most police departments don’t actively monitor social media sites.  Some drug cops have fake Facebook profiles to get intel on low-level targets, but most police departments are too outdated to consider social media to be a valuable form of intelligence.  That has to change.  If a killer is broadcasting his crimes essentially in “real time”, we have to have officers with the ability to monitor and track that.  We also have to be much more responsive when a citizen calls us to report some type of threat or crime that they saw on a social media site.  We are very much behind the curve with regards to the latest communication technology that is being used daily by the citizens we serve.


I’m not talking about some massive NSA-like surveillance system.  I’m talking about basic familiarity and access.  Police administrators rarely have Facebook profiles.  Their Twitter feeds are managed by interns, IT folks, or the department “computer guy.”  Most police chiefs have no idea Snap Chat even exists.  Police departments regularly put filters on the department computers that prohibit officers from accessing social media sites while on duty.  All of this has to change quickly if we want to be able to most effectively stop the current generation of active killers.


We are in for a challenging ride.






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4 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. caleb says:


    Great, short summary as always with these events (and what we can learn from them).

    Two comments:

    1.) are we sure it was body armor he had on? Whenever we hear these reports it’s often said the killer had body armor … then it turns out later it’s just a “tactical vest” (sandy hook, etc to name a few). Media reports every black vest as body armor first, then facts later.

    2.) in RE: to the social media stuff. You know how all cell phones you can dial 911 right away without unlocking the phone, etc?

    It seems to me the social media companies could easily start building in “#911” or “@911” that would automatically route to local PD. Most people share their locations with social media apps (not that I recommend that …) so it would seem an easy thing to fix. no need for a new app, etc

    That’s probably the free market solution we’ll see in the near future and all kids will learn “dial 911 or #911 or @911 in an emergency” in grade school within a decade …

  2. Sam says:

    Interesting article re: these types of actors – “injustice collectors” –

    May give some insight into the worldview of people like this.

    Would LE departments hire on citizens who aren’t police, but are internet savvy and who can navigate social media? Or would they likely require existing officers to go through pre-packaged “social media awareness” training?

  3. .weston.pecos. says:

    I don’t know about the mentally ill thing. Every time someone does something heinous and violently antisocial, folks are real quick to do two things: 1. Say that the killer must have been “crazy” or “mentally ill”; and 2. Call for more restrictions on gun ownership for people who might even remotely be mentally ill. So, if I understand this attitude it works like this: Anyone who gets angry, ever, at anything that you personally don’t think is worth getting angry at must be mentally ill and that person’s Constitutional rights to liberty and due process should immediately be scrapped just on the power of your say-so. I know that Greg did not make those contentions but many people plainly do. And, Greg did say the killer was mentally ill. Now, how do you know that? Is that because he was apparently stewing over these people who probably never did him any harm but he thought they did? Does that make one ill-informed, illogical, or mentally ill? And, while I’m asking about that, let me ask you this: Was he LEGALLY mentally ill or medically mentally ill? Legally mentally ill is, essentially, not being capable of knowing right from wrong. I don’t think that applies to this guy. Medically mentally ill is a whole other story and frankly, I don’t think that applies to this guy either (I am a physician, by the way). I just think the guy was an asshole who let himself get all worked up by supposed offenses supposedly directed at him. That describes half the planet’s population, or more. Are they all mentally ill? I don’t even care if they really are. What I really care about is that the attitude that brands these antisocial assholes as mentally ill leads to the kind of prohibitive policy that will deny firearms ownership rights to a whole broad swath of the American population just because they vent steam at work sometimes and maybe sought out a doctor’s advice or treatment for dysphoric symptoms. A heck of a lot of people take antidepressants for depression and/or anxiety. Should we alienate all of them from their Constitutional rights? Maybe just the ones who got pissed off at something at work one time or two or ten times? Right, they are all mentally ill and dangerous, right? I can tell you from being on the inside of medical care that a hell of a lot of personal info gets forever inscribed into your medical chart by doctors all the time. We have references to patients describing their use of drugs, their sexual issues, preferences, acts, their anxieties, their worries, their drinking, etc. We generally can’t remove any of that from the record once it is in the computer, even if we later find out that we entered it incorrectly. So, like I said, I think labeling these assholes who commit these shooting crimes as “mentally ill” is often incorrect (legally and/or medically) and ill-advised in terms of the policy imperatives that naturally flow from that attitude.

    • Ron Borsch says:

      Dr. Weston Pecos
      We agree on the unfair attacks on our second amendment, and that this coward was also an asshole, (I thought that was a police technical term but I am glad to see the medical community also uses it).

      Seriously, thanks for the elaboration of legally or mentally ill Etc. Still, I think you were too hard on Greg’s article as I think we all tend to use loosely use otherwise defined terms.

      If it is helpful, I use a generic acronym NUTS© for a person that obviously has Numerous Unstable or Troubling Symptoms© in my published articles or interviews. These NUTS factors are far easier to objectively prove for the average person. You or Greg are welcome to use the term if you wish.

      My specialty for almost a decade has been researching Rapid Mass Murder© (RMM) for my Stopwatch of Death© database, (back to 1975). I cannot recall any RMM event where the active killer had not exhibited any NUTS factors. Unfortunately, most of the factors were revealed too late to prevent the murders.