These are the telltale signs the FBI says to watch for to prevent mass shootings

Thoughts, prayers and tears typically follow mass shootings, but the FBI says in some cases, it can all be prevented if people recognize and report the warning signs that someone may be on a path to violence.

What the FBI has learned from behavior analysis of past mass shooters is that most of them don’t simply wake up some morning and choose to commit a violent act.

“For the most part, and based on all the studies of active shooters in the past 20-some years, we do see that there is a buildup, or there are behaviors that are displayed at various stages of their lives prior to the act of violence,” said FBI supervisory special agent Jeff Johannes.

Family, friends or co-workers might notice a person’s behavioral changes and how they may suddenly become more isolated or are acting and talking differently than they had before.

“For example: if a month ago, they were talking about everything about a sports team, and then they gradually start talking more and more about violence … as well as also getting more isolated, not able to deal with stress, they’ve had a life change … and they start talking more in person about guns and implementing violent acts and bombs,” Johannes said. “That’s where we rely upon the folks who know (them).”

Online messaging could include comments or jokes about violent plans, fantasies about violence or comments about hurting themselves or others. Other telltale signs include obsessive interest in past mass shootings or shooters and bizarre or unexpected changes in appearance, including dress or hygiene.

The FBI conceded it’s not easy to report on the uncertain but concerning behaviors of friends or family members.

“It’s really a balancing act, but they’ve got to ask themselves, ‘Am I worried about hurting their feelings, or am I worried about preventing a huge loss of life or any type of other mass violence?'” Johannes said.

Tips can be made 24 hours a day by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5324) or going online.

“If folks see these warning signs early on, that is our best way of preventing any type of mass attack or any type of mass violence,” Johannes said.

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Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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