Just Too Much to Write About

As I was finishing up my article last week and preparing to publish it, the tragic events of Kalamazoo, Michigan involving “Uber” Driver Jason Dalton was just starting to gain coverage in the news. In an attack that can only be described as “active-shooter” in nature, Dalton went on a rampage shooting fury in a span of five hours. To date, Dalton’s attack has cost six people their lives, with two others injured including a 14-year-old girl in critical condition. When the story first broke, I was tempted to stop what I was doing and re-write my article with a focus on Dalton. I thought I could use his attack as a case study into what kind of behavioral indicators the public can look for in attackers; ultimately the goal is to prevent future violence like the attacks committed by Dalton. But I hesitated. I figured that there was plenty of time to write it, plenty of material to write about on Dalton in the following week. I mean, it wasn’t like anything else was going to happen anytime soon.

But something did happen. Or rather, someone happened. Cedric Ford went on a shooting spree at his employer’s industrial facility in Hesston, Kansas four days later. In less than a week our country had two separate incidents of active shooter violence. Under the most undesirable circumstances, I suddenly have too much to discuss.

So what can we learn from these horrible incidents?  The profile on Dalton is still coming in, and it seems we will have to watch as the investigation continues. But Ford seems to fit the profile of a person who exhibits the indicators of rampage violence. For starters, he was issued a “protection from abuse” order by the courts just a few hours prior to the attack. Ford had a history of run-ins with the law, to include an arrest for breaking into private property and two parole violations. At this point, I am speculating, but I believe that if he was under a current parole and he was issued some kind of court order, that might complicate his current status. Possibly even send him to prison. From Ford’s perspective, the court order could have been considered devastating news. The officers who delivered the court order expressed that when Ford was notified he was not violent, but visibly upset.

Changes like this in a person’s life, sudden and negative, are one of the strongest indicators of future threat-related behavior in an individual. In Ford’s case, it is a strong likelihood that this was the trigger that set him off. As for Jason Dalton? We will still have to see. Dalton has, thus far, been a bit of conundrum. There has been no strong indication that he had experienced a change like this, but the investigation is continuing and ongoing. There were outlet reports that Dalton’s family were dealing with financial trouble and that this had caused some estrangement with he and his wife. Obviously this would satisfy the criteria for a major negative life change, but again it is based on speculation.

If you have lived life, then you have experienced major sudden changes that caught you off guard. In this day, things like layoffs, illness and loss of loved ones are the norm, it seems more common than not. During trying times like these we all feel a range of emotions, and most are not very good. We want to give up, we want to lash out. Maybe we’re not experiencing it but rather we are seeing it in others. Whatever the case, the best answer to ensure that these challenges don’t manifest into something worse is though a system of proactive intervention. If you are dealing with the weight of the world, talk to someone; If you know someone who is dealing with such burdens, reach out to them. You make the difference, and the last thing I want is another week where I have too much to write about.


Jason Wells 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. He is a former Special Agent with the United States Secret Service, and holds a Masters of Science with highest honors in Strategic Security and Protection Management. Mr. Wells is currently pursuing his doctorate in Strategic Security with a focus on ways to use proactive interventions to stop rampage violence in our community. He can be contacted at info@take-naps.org.