Secret Service report shows similarities between Waffle House, Marshall County High mass shootings

Local News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A newly released report by the Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center shows the similarities between the Antioch Waffle House and Marshall County High School mass shootings.

The report also shows the similarities between those attacks and the 25 other mass attacks that happened in public areas last year where at least three people were hurt.

According to the research done by the Secret Service, many mass attacks can be prevented by mental health intervention and reporting suspicious behavior to law enforcement.

Travis Reinking, 30, is accused of killing four people and injuring four others on April 22, 2018, at an Antioch Waffle House. Police reports show Reinking had a history of mental illness, run-ins with the law and displayed behavior that concerned his family.

The report states 67% of accused mass attackers displayed mental health symptoms, most commonly depression and psychosis.

“There are skills people can learn to manage feelings or extreme emotions in a healthier way than retaliation against another person or another group,” said Sarah Kmita with Psyche Counseling Group. “But it’s unfair to say that just because somebody has mental health issues or is in treatment for mental health issues means that they’re going to attack someone or become violent.”

The report also states that 93% of attackers made threatening or concerning communications and 85% elicited concern from others. The Secret Service emphasized the importance of reporting suspicious activity.

The Tennessee Department of Homeland Security echoed that thought.

“It bothers me that after September 11 that some people still don’t want to get involved and let us know their concerns,” said Assistant Commissioner Rick Shipkowski.

DHS recently released the Safe TN app, which allows easy reporting of suspicious or criminal activity, including potential mass attacks. The information is immediately shared with the Department of Education and the Department of Mental Health.

So far, the app has received 17 tips. DHS says it investigates every single one.

The report also shows that 89% of mass attacks are carried out using firearms and most were obtained legally. However, there isn’t much one can do to keep firearms away from dangerous people.

“If you have somebody that you know who is saying things that are very concerning and they’re exhibiting behavior that makes you think that they may be contemplating hurting themselves or other people, right now there’s nothing you can do,” said Beth Joslin Roth with the Safe Tennessee Project.

Roth says Red Flag Laws would help cut down on mass shootings by allowing a police officer or family member to petition a judge to temporarily remove firearms from a person who is a danger to themselves or others.

However, the DHS Assistant Commissioner did not agree.

“If an individual wants to kill somebody because they have such a grievance, they will find a weapon to do it,” said Shipkowski.

The report also showed most mass attacks were carefully planned, leaving time to intervene. The report states:

  • 52% motive was a grievance, related to work, domestic relationship or personal issue
  • 93% of attackers were male
  • 85% elicited concern from others

Behaviors that elicited concern:

  • Social media posts with alarming content
  • Stalking and harassing behaviors
  • Escalating anger or aggressive behavior
  • Increased depression
  • Changes in behavior and appearance
  • Increased drug use
  • Expressions of suicidal ideations
  • Erratic behavior
  • Writing about violence or weapons
  • Purchasing weapons
  • Cutting off communications
  • Threats of domestic violence
  • Inappropriate behavior toward females
  • Acting paranoid

Read the full report, click here.

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