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Expert: Speaking up is key to preventing attacks

Posted at 6:25 PM, Aug 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-05 19:26:09-04

MILWAUKEE — Over and over again following a mass casualty, we ask the question: How can we prevent another tragedy?

The conversation usually focuses on gun control and mental health, and we always seem to hear stories from people who knew the attacker, felt something was off, but didn’t do anything about it.

Paul Mascari runs Clearwall Safety Consultants and trains local organizations about steps they can take to stop violence in public spaces, whether it’s at school, the workplace or anywhere else.

“There is no profile of an active shooter. That’s one thing that the research is pretty settled on,” Mascari said.

He said the key to prevention isn’t increasing security or conducting active shooter or lockdown drills. Instead, it’s up to the public to speak out.

“What we see is these individuals usually don’t do anything that’s a very serious crime until they actually commit the shooting, so we can’t rely solely on law enforcement to identify these things,” Mascari said. “What’s going to prevent the next active shooter incident is a concerned relative, you know, family friend, coworker that reports something, and a plan is stopped.”

According to a report released last month by the U.S. Secret Service, nearly all attackers in mass attacks from 2018 engaged in prior threatening or concerning communications, and more than three-quarters of them exhibited behaviors that elicited concern from others before carrying out their attacks. This type of behavior included sharing alarming content on social media, escalating aggressive behavior, purchasing weapons and threats of domestic violence.

It’s why Mascari said it’s important to report all kinds of suspicious activity.

“When you put all of those things together and you start to intervene, that’s when you’re taking that person off that pathway toward violence or at the very least slowing them down,” Mascari said.

Report not just to police, but to multiple people, because the more you get it out there, the better the chance at saving lives.

“There is no profile of an active shooter. That’s one thing that the research is pretty settled on.” — Paul Mascari of Clearwall Safety Consultants

“They have to help get information from parents, from coworkers, from fellow students, to be able to paint a full picture,” Mascari said.

Gov. Tony Evers said reporting concerns is just one piece of the puzzle.

“This is the time that I think we need to look to our legislators and our leaders in the state to do something proactive,” Evers said.

If you witness any suspicious behavior or activity, report it to a superior where you are. If it’s at work, tell HR. If it’s at school, tell a counselor or principal. Also, report it to police and reach out to the Southeastern Wisconsin Threat Analysis Center at 1-877-949-2824.