*This is a guest post from my friend Ron Borsch. Ron is a retired police officer/trainer who is one of the world’s leading experts on the behavior of active killers. In his article below, he shares the most well-researched list of common active killer personality traits and pre-incident behaviors that I have seen. Becoming aware of these warning signs and being willing to take action when you encounter them will undoubtedly save lives.”
PENALTY FOR IGNORING CLUES
The tragic failure of both school staff and parents ignoring numerous clues by an evil rogue-killer-to-be teen, 15, who demonstrated evidence of Numerous Unstable or Troubling Symptoms, (NUTS©) and claimed the lives of four students. An alert, concerned teacher initially and correctly reported his/her apprehension to superiors. However, it all went downhill from there. if you are not familiar with this 113021 Michigan Rapid Mass Murder©, first see Oxford prosecutor releases alleged school shooter’s drawings for details and a brief video.
“What are the signs that a person is disturbed enough to take action? The signs are quite visible, although difficult to interpret without a context—and unfortunately they unfold very quickly, and people can rarely witness them before the action is taken…” (Larry Greenemeier)
Foreknowledge is of course awareness of something before it happens or exists. There is no magic involved, as ancient wisdom illustrates: “What enables the wise sovereign and the good general to strike and conquer, and achieve things beyond the reach of ordinary men is foreknowledge… Knowledge of the enemy’s dispositions can only be obtained from other men.” (Sun Tzu).
LEFT OF BANG
More recently and compelling, a couple of former Marines, Patrick Van Horne and Jason A. Riley authored the book “Left of Bang.” They affirm a compelling truth: It’s better to detect sinister intentions early than respond to violent actions late”. The term Left of Bang “refers to the attack timeline where Bang (in the middle) is the attack. Everything to the left of it is what precedes the attack, and what’s on the right is what follows. Left of/before the attack is the time for proactive prevention. Right of/after the attack begins is when reactive countermeasures take place.
Left of Bang is obviously where we’d want to stay, and in order to do so, we’d want to detect early warning signs, which we can then disrupt or avoid in order to prevent the attack.” Those Marines had skin in the game, and developed a system of recognizing anomalies that could forewarn them of risks associated with ambush, booby-traps and command detonated explosives. Teachers certainly deserve to learn what anomalies and warning signs can keep schools safer from these student assassins.
PROFILING THESE MURDERERS
Some experts have said that a profile of Rapid Mass Murderers cannot be done, due to a myriad of variables. I agree that it was difficult, however our exclusive protocol made it possible. After a couple of decades of experience instructing, presenting, research and writing on the subject, it became obvious that if no one else would dare broach the subject, I would, and did in 2018. I was recently invited to do my “Stopwatch of Death”© presentation at a future School Resource Officer (SRO) convention, so now was a good time to update my previously internet-published “Profiling An Active Killer” for 2022. My update appears below.
It is key to recognize that the ten identifying factors below have been the most common indicators in the past, so it is still my work-in-progress. An active killer could range from having only a few if any of these factors, up to most of them. These indicators lend some helpful context to an alert thinking person orienting them to seeing visible, audible, behavioral, and sometimes subtle clues. However, as they are not rules carved in stone, especially in the light of factually, there will always be exceptions to any rule.
The value of this identification profile would also depend on a clustering of these factors. Several factors or more in a cluster would mean a greater risk of a suspect acting out. For context and accompanied by relevant written articulation (matched with each factor cited), they could even be used as evidentiary citations where needed, for a school suspension, expulsion, termination, or arrest.
PROFILING AN ACTIVE KILLER
(Note: When the author is properly credited for his work anywhere it appears, permission to share is granted)
1) NUTS : Possessing a standout of “Numerous Unstable or Troubling Symptoms” ©. Murder starts in the mind. Some active killers have been clinically diagnosed before or after the incident as mentally ill. NUTS© is probably the most frequent and revealing factor, especially considering the suspects tracking history of words, (especially social media), videos, drawing, etc. and deeds such as Animal cruelty, can all reveal malice forethought.
2) ABNORMAL, bizarre, eccentric, or nonconforming oddball, sometimes shunned by his peers. Any cliquish, unfair treatment, ridiculing, playing tricks on or any embarrassment of these NUTS© could result in deadly pay-back. Recall that a few of these rogue-humans have actually murdered their own parent/parents before going onto their main target.
3) IMMATURE, and or Low IQ. The human mind does not fully mature until around age 25, or even older according to new UK research. However, a sick or evil mind acting out can occur at any age. A recent revelation of some active killers is their being an INCEL, (involuntary celibate movement), unable to attract a girlfriend. “Evil is as evil does”.
4) PLANNER, PREPARER and/or RESEARCHER of previous Rapid Mass Murder© incidents. An unhealthy fan of the Colorado Columbine High School massacre and or Adolph Hitler. A suspended, fired, or expelled, former student or employee. Often shares their evil intent with one or more persons. Reconnoiters and rehearses his plan.
5) AGE CONNECTION very close to targeted victim pool. Exceptions have been pre-school, kindergarten and elementary school massacres, where the active killer is typically much older than the victims.
6) SUICIDAL, often having spoken about or actually attempted suicide previously. However, post-murdering, active killers have been more likely to flee or surrender to police, only rarely engaging in a firefight with officers.
7) VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES: Especially about Columbine High School. An excessive and unhealthy fascination or addiction with violence is a common trait.
8) WHITE MALE, (98 percent), typically seeking retribution for a real or perceived wrong and or to achieve notoriety or infamy. Many seem to be affected by the copycat effect using Columbine as a role model.
9) COWARDLY, rarely distinguished with any positive trait of courage. Avoiding a fair fight, he is seeking to quickly surprise, ambush and assassinate defenseless innocents before anyone can stop him.
10) ACCESS TO WEAPONS: Arson, Bow/Crossbow, Explosives, Firearms, Hatchet, Knives, Vehicle, Etc. Each of these have been used by active killers. Tools used in Rapid Mass Murder© may be owned by the active killer or acquired from parents, relatives or friends. Weapons have been concealed on-body video, in book bags, back-packs, lockers and vehicles.
BLAMELESS are Tools or Methods used in Rapid Mass Murder . Tools and methods do not have a mind of their own, nor is it even possible to act on their own. Again, “Evil is as evil does”. It is always an EVIL HUMAN ANIMATOR of inanimate objects that has full and complete responsibility for these mass murders. Those that would call for blaming, forbidding or outlawing inanimate objects to allegedly solve the problem either have not clearly thought the issue through, or are among our enemies that wish to weaken America by disarming citizens.
Wisdom, ancient or modern, should be considered and respected. No one should have to start at square one during urgent conditions. Having tools or resources to guide or measure risk can be lifesaving helpful. This updated active killer profile can be a piece of indispensable public service, my humble contribution for Parents, Teachers, School staff, School Resource Officers, Trainers and law enforcement in general. The right person acting at the right time, utilizing “Left of Bang” principles to remain Left-of-Bang while using a realistic guide to profile the risks posed by a potential active killer, is very likely to side-step potential violence and bloodshed.
In the meantime, have a Back-Up strategy. I recommend training and arming selected volunteer teachers, having one SRO at each school, and acquiring the notification School Guard 911 app for each teacher’s smart-phone (free for police officers). This is a precious time and lifesaving notification directly to patrol officers with simultaneous connection reporting to police dispatch.
Thanks to Ohio’s Buckeye Firearms Foundation, they have already trained two thousand teachers and staff for free in their F.A.S.T.E.R. system of active killer countermeasures and emergency, (stop the bleeding), first aid. Also, and importantly, their considerable lobbying efforts in changing Ohio law to permit armed teachers is near success.
Ron Borsch is a Viet Nam veteran, (1965-66 U.S. Army paratrooper 101st Airborne) and is retired from two careers, 30 years as a police officer including SWAT and 17 years as a police trainer. Supported by seven SEALE Chiefs of Police, he founded, managed and was the chief trainer for SEALE Regional Police Training Academy in Bedford Ohio, which was attended by officers from 10 other states. He has also presented before international law enforcement trainer audiences in several states and two countries. For the last several years he has served on two expert panels at annual ILEETA international conferences and at the 2018 FASTER expert panel. Ron is a hobby writer, and does pro-bono presentations for local civic groups, schools and churches.