Gun Crisis in America: 51 Shootings, 54 dead, 202 wounded in 29 days
Numbers don’t tell the tragic human stories of loss and pain, grief and healing — but they sure do tell the story of our national crisis. Legislators – DO SOMETHING!
Here’s the shockingly long list of mass shootings since August 4 when a 24-year-old white man dressed in body armor shot and killed 9 and wounded 27 others in Dayton, Ohio. (Mass Shootings Tracker lists all shootings where 4 or more people are SHOT (not just those where 4 or more are killed). We don’t even hear about most of these stories…
Well, of course one death by the hand of a mass shooter is too many.
But the numbers are important, and how are we to know the facts when we read widely varying reports:
“At least 60 people have died in the U.S. from mass shootings in 2019 alone” – Vallejo Times-Herald on Aug. 6
Prior to the El Paso shooting, “20 mass killings in the US in 2019 claimed 96 lives.” – The Guardian on Aug 4
“The Ohio mass shooting was the 293rd this year, accounting for 345 killed.” – The Benicia Independent on Aug 4
Yes, one is too many, but what is the real story of America’s gun violence problem? How to report with a sense of accuracy? And how are readers to make sense of the wide discrepancies?
#1 – First, it is likely that the Aug 6 Vallejo Times-Herald headline (60 killed) is just an error. I can find no other news article making that claim, and the headline is not referenced in the body of the two Associated Press news reports below the headline.
#2 – The Aug 4 Guardian article (96 killed) refers to “a database compiled by the Associated Press, Northeastern University and USA Today.” The database only counts shootings where four or more people killed, not including the shooter. Using this methodology, the shooting in Dayton was only “the 22nd mass killing in the US this year. The first 20 mass killings in the US in 2019 claimed 96 lives.”
#3 – My own reporting here on the Benicia Independent relies on two very similar databases with shockingly higher numbers: MassShootingTracker.org and GunViolenceArchive.org. Both of these track all shootings where 4 or more people are SHOT (not just those where 4 or more are killed). The justification for this as stated by example on MassShootingTracker is convincing: “…in 2012 Travis Steed and others shot 18 people total. Miraculously, he only killed one. Under the incorrect definition used by the media and the FBI, that event would not be considered a mass shooting! Arguing that 18 people shot during one event is not a mass shooting is absurd.” One difference between these two is that MassShootingTracker includes the death of the shooter, while GunViolenceArchive does not. Thus, they give these numbers for 2019 as of today, Aug 6:
[Editor: this report details 22nd mass killings in the US this year, accounting for 96 deaths, according to an AP database. I prefer to monitor gun violence using data from MassShootingTracker.org, which includes many more of these horrific incidents, counting those where 4 or more are shot, regardless of how many were killed in the mass shooting. Massshootingtracker’s reasoning behind this: “…in 2012 Travis Steed and others shot 18 people total. Miraculously, he only killed one. Under the incorrect definition used by the media and the FBI, that event would not be considered a mass shooting! Arguing that 18 people shot during one event is not a mass shooting is absurd.” The Ohio mass shooting was the 293rd this year, accounting for 345 killed. – RS]
Dayton incident comes hours after at least 20 people died in a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas
Nine people have been killed in Ohio and at least 26 injured in the second mass shooting in the US in less than 24 hours.
Police said the suspect opened fire in the Oregon district of the city of Dayton at 1m local time (6am BST) on Sunday, before being shot and killed by responding officers.
The mayor of Dayton, Nan Whaley, said the gunman was wearing body armour. He used a 223-caliber rifle magazine and had additional high-capacity magazines with him.
Whaley said the injured had been taken to a number of hospitals and that some had life-threatening wounds.
She added uniformed officers were in the area when the suspect started shooting. “In less than one minute, Dayton first responders neutralised the shooter. While this is a terribly sad day for our city, I am amazed by the quick response of Dayton police. They saved literally hundreds of lives.”
She said: “As a mayor this is a day that we all dread happening and certainly what’s very sad is … that so many of us have gone through it.”
Earlier on Sunday morning, Matt Carper of the Dayton police department said the shooting had taken place “over a very short timeline” on the city’s East 5th Street. Nine people were known to have been killed, not including the shooter.
“Currently we are working on identifying the suspect to see what the possible motivation might have been. We do not have that yet,” he said. “The suspect was firing a long gun with multiple rounds at the victims.”
Carper said the police’s initial investigation suggested the shooter had been acting alone, but that inquiries were in their early stages. He said they were interviewing dozens of witnesses to establish what happened.
Video from the scene near downtown Dayton showed a number of emergency vehicles on a street that had been cordoned off. The FBI was assisting with the investigation and a family assistance centre had been set up at the Dayton Convention Center. Carper called on those with information about the incident to contact police.
The Oregon district is a historic neighbourhood near downtown Dayton, home to bars, restaurants and theatres. Carper said officers routinely patrolled the area, which was popular with visitors.
“We are very fortunate that the officers were in close proximity and that they reacted in the way that they did,” he said. “As bad as this is, it could have been much, much worse as I think everyone will become aware of here as more information unfolds. So we’re very appreciative of the officers who were on scene and the action that they took.
“This is obviously a very difficult situation. They put themselves in harm’s way. That’s what they are here for – to protect the public – and that’s what they did tonight.”
The Ohio shooting came hours after a young man allegedly opened fire in a crowded shopping area in El Paso, Texas, leaving 20 dead and more than two dozen injured.
Days before, on 28 July, a 19-year-old shot and killed three people, including two children, at the Gilroy garlic festival in northern California.
The El Paso shooting was the 21st mass killing in the US in 2019, according to a database compiled by the Associated Press, Northeastern University and USA Today. The database tracks all US homicides since 2006 involving four or more people killed, not including the offender, over a short period of time regardless of weapon, location, victim-offender relationship or motive.
That makes Sunday’s shooting in Dayton the 22nd mass killing in the US this year. The first 20 mass killings in the US in 2019 claimed 96 lives.
Mike DeWine, the Ohio governor, tweeted that he was heartbroken by the attack. He commended Dayton police and other first responders for “their bravery and quick response to save lives and bring an end to this tragedy”.
“I have ordered that flags in Ohio remain at half-mast in honour and memory of the victims who lost their lives this morning,” he said.
So today 20 innocent people were gunned down by a white supremacist in a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. Another 26 were seriously injured, some critically. Earlier this week, two store workers were killed in a Walmart in Mississippi. And on Sunday this week, another white supremacist gunman opened fire at the Gilroy Garlic Festival near San Jose, California, killing three of us and injuring 15 .
In just this last week, according to MassShootingTracker.com, 43 were killed and 75 injured in mass shootings. In 2019, 291 mass shootings have taken place so far – that’s 291 mass shootings in 215 days! In those 291 horrific events, 335 individuals have been murdered and 1,111 others were injured.
In May, a gunman killed 13 people at a municipal building in Virginia Beach. The month before, on the last day of Passover in April, a vocal anti-Semite attacked a synagogue in Poway, California, killing one person and injuring three.
EL PASO—A lone gunman killed at least 20 people inside a crowded Walmart on Saturday morning, according to eyewitnesses and officials.
“A day that would’ve been a normal day for someone to leisurely go shopping, turned into one of the most deadly days in the history of Texas. Lives were taken who should still be with us today. Twenty innocent people from El Paso have lost their lives, and more than two dozen more are injured,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott said at an evening press conference.
At least 22 people were transported to area hospitals, including a 4-month-old girl. At least nine people were in critical condition at Del Sol Medical Center, where three of them were said to be in “life-threatening” condition. The victims there ranged in age from 35 to 82, but no further details were immediately available.
Police have not yet identified those killed, though Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced on Twitter late Saturday that three Mexican nationals were among the 20 people killed.
Police said one person is in custody and they have ruled out multiple shooters. The suspect has been identified as 21-year-old Patrick Crusius of Texas, according to a senior law-enforcement source. Authorities are investigating a purported manifesto posted online shortly before the attack.
“Right now we have a manifesto from this individual, that indicates to some degree, it has a nexus to potential hate crime,” El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen said at a press conference. Allen, who stopped short of naming the suspect, said authorities were still working to “validate” that the manifesto was penned by the alleged gunman.
More than a thousand people were inside the Walmart near the Cielo Vista Mall when the shooting started around 11 a.m. A woman named Karina, who declined to give her last name, said she was driving in the parking lot with her 7-year-old daughter when she saw a white man in his twenties in front of the store’s main entrance, dressed in all black and carrying a long rifle. Karina said she heard what sounded like “balloons popping” and saw the gunman shoot another man at “point-blank” range.
Then the gunman entered the store, as captured by surveillance footage.
Miguel Rodriguez said he was shopping for a toy for his 7-year-old son when he heard gunshots and ducked to the ground. He said a person “started shooting everyone, aisle by aisle, with rage.”
Britney, a 19-year-old who declined to give her last name, said she was with her 16-year-old brother and her mother in the store’s underwear aisle when she heard shooting. The family dropped to the ground. Then Britney said she grabbed her mother and brother’s hands and they ran out of the store.
⚠️Video from inside JCPENNY in Cielo Vista Mall as it was being evacuated, due to an active shooter in the area.
Video: Victoria Balderrama pic.twitter.com/7v67DL4mPG
Dozens of people from inside the mall who were evacuated lined a nearby street. A man carrying a Bible went from group to group, asking people to pray with him.
The El Paso shooting is the latest in a series of deadly attacks on public places. On Monday, a disgruntled employee killed two people in a Walmart store in Mississippi. Last Sunday, a gunman killed three people and injured 15 at the Gilroy Garlic Festival near San Jose, California. In May, a gunman killed 12 people at a municipal building in Virginia Beach. The month before, on the last day of Passover in April, a vocal anti-Semite allegedly attacked a synagogue in Poway, California, killing one person.