What We’re Going to Find Out About the Ohio State University Attacks

Originally posted on www.jasonwellsauthor.com


Again, we see one of our great academic institutions, The Ohio State University, fall victim to what is becoming a very disturbing social norm:  The active attacker.  

    At the time that I write this, the information on the attacks is still coming in.  Some of it is from students who are sheltered in place in their dorms or their classrooms; still, more information is being reported by the media, but the truth is, they can’t be trusted in situations like this.  The information is raw, uncorroborated, and the news outlets are competing with one another just to be the first to break a new piece of information in a riveting storyline.  Law enforcement will not give up much at this time…. And rightfully so.  They are responsible for the safety of the community, as well as compiling evidence for prosecution.  They need to maintain impartiality in all of this.  

    But there are some things that we can learn from this situation in the coming days as more information is provided.  One thing that the public can count on with an assailant who targets places like schools and businesses is that the attacker will display similar behavioral conditions as those who have committed similar attacks in the past.  We, the public, can identify these behaviors prior to an imminent, potentially violent situation, and thereby possibly intervene and proactively prevent violence like what is occurring at Ohio State.

Don’t believe me?  Since we don’t know what we have yet in terms of an attacker (or attackers) at Ohio State, here are my thoughts on what will be released on the assailant in the coming days…

  1. Significant Change – The assailant will have had a major change in his/her life, something that the assailant may view as catastrophic.  It may not seem like much to us, but to him/her it was very important.  Perhaps a loss of a job, a bad grade at school or a relationship that ended.  These sudden changes in people’s lives create extreme anxiety and a sense of hostility and hopelessness.
  2. Communication – The attacker likely communicated intentions for violence well before the attack on the campus.  It may have been directly to people, or on a social network site online or possibly in writing.  Whatever the case, it is likely that he or she was expressing the violence through communication long before taking action.
  3. Concern of Others – There were probably people who were close to the attacker who recognized changes in the person.  Perhaps family or friends saw a change that was negative in some way.  Rather than acting however, most people don’t feel like their observations are justified to do something.  They don’t feel empowered to intervene, and they feel that they are over-reacting.
  4. Obsession with Radical Intentions – Attackers often develop their ideas from things that they become obsessed with, such as a radical violent group or a previous attack and what they did to others.  If a person doesn’t have a reason for closely following such an interest (such as a school project or an assignment for work) there should be some concerns.

There are many, many others to discuss, and in greater detail.  It may be too late for those who have now fallen victim at The Ohio State University, and I hope that you will join with me in keeping these people in your thoughts, your hearts, and your prayers.  I also hope that you will help me to work with your community to identify behavioral conditions that could lead to violence, and address it proactively in our community so that we won’t have another tragedy befall a campus like what we are seeing in Ohio.

This is why I’ve written a new book, “Our Path To Safety:  A U.S. Secret Service Agent’s Guide To Creating Safe Communities” I outline these behavioral conditions in detail, as well as how they can be identified and dealt with proactively in our community.  Some would say that it is profiling, and I agree:  It is behavioral profiling, not physical profiling. With physical profiling, the individual has no control over his or her gender, skin color, age or religion.  Behavioral profiling is based on the actions that the person is showing to the community, and we are completely justified to identify the concerning behaviors and act in a positive manner to get that person help.

Jason Wells is the author of Our Path To Safety:  A U.S. Secret Service Agent’s Guide To Creating Safe Communities”.  Jason is the President and Founder of the National Advancements for Proactive Safety, an educational non-profit organization committed to providing a safe community through intervention processes and a former Special Agent with the United States Secret Service.  He is a contributing writer to the online publication Robious Corridor, and a Board Member of the National Senior Citizens Committee.  He has been featured in the Huffington Post, Forbes, Slate and Fatherly.