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Prevent Mass Violence

Together, we can prevent tragedy.

Research has found that mass shooters don’t just snap.

They spend time thinking about violence and they plan, prepare, and often share indicators before their attacks. This means there are opportunities to identify someone who is on a pathway to violence - and prevent their attack.

Studies have also proven that before most mass attacks, someone observed concerning behaviors that were signs the person was on a path to violence. The people who noticed were often friends, family, schoolmates, coworkers, or loved ones.

YOU may be in a unique position to observe these signs in someone you know. Educating yourself on what to look for can be the key to preventing an attack of mass violence in your community.

"When you know something is wrong but you don't want to say it, talk to someone about it. Report it. Even if they're your friends, brother, family. Don't let that hold you back from doing the right thing."

Statement by a close friend of an active shooter

What to Know

No single behavior means someone will commit violence, but research has identified behaviors that may indicate a person is moving towards violence.

The earlier a person’s concerning behaviors are noticed, the more options are available to get the person help.

Together with other concerning behaviors, new or inappropriate interest in weapons may increase concern for violence against others.

Common Concerning Behaviors

  • Comments, jokes, or threats about violent plans
  • Repeated or detailed fantasies about violence
  • Comments about hurting themselves or others
  • Creating a document, video, suicide note, or other item to explain or claim credit for future violence
  • Seeing violence as a way to solve their problems
  • Unusual difficulty coping with stress
  • Reduced interest in hobbies and other activities
  • Worsening performance at school or work
  • Increasing isolation from family, friends, or others
  • Angry outbursts or physical aggression
  • Increasingly troublesome interactions with others
  • Obsessive interest in prior attackers or attacks
  • Bizarre or unexpected change in appearance, including dress or hygiene
  • Asking questions about or testing security at a possible target
  • Changing vocabulary, style of speech, or how they act in a way that reflects a hardened point of view or new sense of purpose associated with violent extremist causes, particularly after a catalyzing event

What to Do

Talk to Someone You Trust

If you are worried that someone you know may be displaying concerning behaviors, the most important thing is to tell someone.

Be the key to preventing violence by talking to someone you trust. This could be a school administrator, employee assistance peer, coach, religious leader, or someone else you respect.

Contact Law Enforcement

If you believe someone is planning or preparing for violence, think about contacting police, visiting your nearest FBI field office, or reporting it at

Law enforcement can work with other professionals to provide needed resources to individuals in or approaching crisis.

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Active Shooter Safety  

The FBI continues its commitment to working with its partners to protect schools, workplaces, houses of worship, transportation centers, other public gathering sites, and communities from active shooters. Details

Podcast: Active Shooter Incidents

Discussion of the FBI report on active shooter incidents in 2022, and the Bureau's role in investigating events, preventing future attacks, and supporting victims. Details

Research: Mobilization Indicators

Cover of Mobilization Indicators 2021 Report
Report aims to inform about both threats of violence and contextual behaviors that suggest an individual is mobilizing to violence. Details (PDF)

Research: Making Prevention a Reality

This report, a practical guide on assessing and managing the threat of targeted violence, contains concrete strategies to help communities prevent these types of incidents. Details (PDF)

Background: Behavioral Analysis

Experts in the Behavioral Analysis Units (BAUs) work a variety of cases across the country, from terrorism and cybercrime to violent crimes against children and adults. Details