By Steve Gorman
(Reuters) – The United States saw 61 “active shooter” incidents last year, a sharp rise in the number of attacks, casualties and geographic distribution from 2021 and the highest tally in more than 20 years old, the FBI reported Monday.
The 2021 total, spread across 30 states, was 52% higher than 2020 and about double each of the previous three years, according to the FBI. The agency defines an active shooter as someone engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a public space in a seemingly random manner.
Business enterprises accounted for just over half of all such incidents last year, which was also notable for an emerging trend of “roving active shooters” opening fire in multiple locations, as was the case with a man gunman who attacked several Atlanta-area day spas, says the FBI.
Last year’s active shooter carnage left 103 dead and 140 injured, according to the report. In contrast, the FBI counted 40 active shooter attacks in 19 states that killed 38 people and injured 126 in 2020, a year that coincided with the peak of restrictions on social and economic life due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Comparisons with recent years are heavily skewed by data from 2017, the year a gunman opened fire at an outdoor music festival in Las Vegas from the window of a high-rise hotel, killing 56 people and injuring hundreds more in a single incident.
The Las Vegas attack alone helped push the annual death toll in 2017 – 143 killed and 591 injured – to record highs, even though there were only 31 active shootings that year , about half the number of 2021.
As high as last year’s death toll was, it was only the seventh deadliest year for active shootings dating back to 2000, the first year for which FBI figures are available. Still, this is the highest number of such attacks ever recorded, only surpassing the 40 recorded in 2020.
California, despite having some of the toughest gun laws in the country, had more active shooter incidents than any other state last year, six out of 61, followed by Texas and Georgia with five each. , according to the report.
The deadliest incident of 2021 was the mass shooting at Kings Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, in which 10 victims died. Eight were killed and seven injured at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis.
The FBI noted that its active shooter report does not encompass all gun violence or even all mass shootings, which the government defines as at least killings in a single incident.
Excluded from the data are acts of gang or drug-related violence, incidents defined strictly as domestic disputes, isolated hostage takings or crossfire from other criminal acts, the FBI said.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Stephen Coates)