Expert on mass shootings weighs in on warning signs, what you can do

Experts say some people may be on a heightened alert after seeing multiple mass shootings in the spotlight in recent weeks.

Experts say they understand that some people may be concerned this weekend after mass shootings in Philadelphia, Chattanooga, and also in recent weeks in Buffalo and Uvalde. And for those in Central Florida, especially as the 6th anniversary of the Pulse Tragedy nears. 

"It’s hard talking to Orlando because I know Orlando gets this. I know any time someone drives down that road they’re going to see the memory of Pulse. I would encourage you, just don’t feel hopeless. Because the minute we feel hopeless, our 49 died in vain. The 21 at Uvalde died in vain. All of these individuals died for no reason if we give up and we let the perpetrators win," said Jaclyn Schildkraut, who is a national expert on mass shootings.

Schildkraut grew up in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people lost their lives in a school shooting in 2018, and graduated from the University of Central Florida located in Orlando where a shooter killed 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in 2016. Schildkraut studies mass shootings and helps survivors.

She looks at the behavior of the shooters before the tragedy in hopes to understand it more to prevent another one from happening. Schildkraut said it usually starts with a grievance, like a break-up or loss of a job. Then, the person typically gets weapons, and she said the person will almost always tell someone or post about it on social media. 

"I think in our society, we have become very desensitized to the issue of mass shootings," she said. "I think we brush it off as people being people, kids being kids, but we never know if someone has the means or plans to follow through with what they're saying." 

That's why she said it's important for those in the public to take any threats they hear or see on social media seriously.

"It’s really important to get that info to people like law enforcement, and community mental health organizations who can work together to not only access the threat and its potential credibility but also to put a management plan in place to prevent a shooting or any catastrophe in place before they happen," said Schildkraut.

To ease any worries, Schildkraut says it's a good idea to have a plan wherever you go. 

"I always walk in somewhere, and I always do a quick scan set a plan, just knowing where the exits are, and being situationally aware of what’s going on around me. But I don’t stop living my life because the reality is this can happen anywhere at any time, and even in our own homes," said Schildkraut.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, which is an independent organization, that tracks shootings in the United States, there have been 245 mass shootings so far this year.