Why female shooters are rare

As the investigation continues into why a female shooter opened fire at ...

Posted: Apr 4, 2018 2:11 PM
Updated: Apr 4, 2018 2:11 PM

As the investigation continues into why a female shooter opened fire at YouTube headquarters, data show that it's rare for women to carry out such shootings -- making Tuesday's incident unusual.

The shooting unfolded at the San Bruno, California, company premises when a woman shot and injured three people, and then apparently took her own life, officials said.

About 4% of active shooting incidents involved female shooters between 2000 and 2016, FBI found

There are fewer women behind firearm homicides and mass shootings, research shows

She appeared to have killed herself with a handgun, San Bruno Police Chief Ed Barberini said. The woman has been identified as Nasim Najafi Aghdam, a 39-year-old from San Diego, California.

The motive remains unclear.

Women are rarely behind active shooting incidents, according to data from an FBI study.

The FBI examined active shooter incidents, defined as "an individual engaging in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area" in the United States. Nine of the 220 incidents that had been identified by the FBI (about 4%) had female shooters, according to the FBI list from 2000 to 2016.

The women in those shootings were usually armed with handguns and opened fire inside colleges, businesses, their current or former workplaces, according to the list.

The latest incident at YouTube may not qualify as a mass shooting or murder as three of the victims are hospitalized with injuries.

But in general, there are less female shooters when it comes to firearm homicides, said Adam Lankford, criminal justice professor at the University of Alabama.

FBI data from 2016 showed that 7.6% murder offenders in 2016 were female.

"Research shows that basically males commit more homicides than females, regardless of the subtype of homicide," Lankford said.

'

When it comes to mass shootings, there isn't one accepted definition. The Gun Violence Archive, which compiles data, defines it as an incident in which an offender shoots or kills four or more people. And the Congressional Research Service's defines it as when the perpetrator kills four or more people, selecting victims randomly and attacks in a public place.

But in those incidents, female mass shooters are rare.

"Men commit the overwhelming majority of mass shootings for basically the same reasons they commit most violent crimes," Dewey G. Cornell, a licensed forensic clinical psychologist and director of the Virginia Youth Violence Project at the University of Virginia, wrote in an email to CNN on Tuesday night.

"Men tend to be more violent than women because of a complex interaction of evolutionary and psycho-social factors. Men tend to be more aggressive and less inhibited by empathy, and men in distress seem to be less willing to turn to others for help," he wrote.

None of the perpetrators behind the 28 mass attacks in 2017 were female, according to a report by the US Secret Service.

A study led by Lankford, published in the journal Violence and Victims, looked at 292 public mass shooters worldwide from 1966 to 2012 and found that only one of those was female.

When asked why women are rarely mass shooters, Lankford said: "We can't really answer that question of differences between male and female offenders because we don't have enough female offenders. The problem, or the good news, is we don't have enough female offenders for a statically significant sample."

But there have been cases where women have carried out deadly mass shootings.

A married couple, Syed Rizwan Farook, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik massacred 14 people at a holiday party in 2015 in San Bernardino, California. Farook had worked with the San Bernardino County health department, which was hosting the party when the attack took place. They were both killed in a shootout with police.

On January 30, 2006, Jennifer San Marco visited her former place of employment, a postal distribution center in Goleta, California, and fatally shot six employees after killing a one-time neighbor.

She then killed herself.

West Lafayette
Overcast
43° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 43°
Kokomo
Overcast
41° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 36°
Rensselaer
Overcast
37° wxIcon
Hi: 41° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 37°
Fowler
Overcast
37° wxIcon
Hi: 41° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 37°
Williamsport
Overcast
40° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 40°
Crawfordsville
Overcast
44° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 41°
Frankfort
Overcast
44° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 41°
Delphi
Overcast
43° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 43°
Monticello
Overcast
39° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 39°
Logansport
Overcast
39° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 39°
Chilly and cloudy Tuesday
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 164581

Reported Deaths: 4143
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion26055792
Lake14436358
St. Joseph9606168
Elkhart9271138
Allen8647231
Hamilton6400115
Vanderburgh617162
Tippecanoe396715
Porter347550
Hendricks3418134
Monroe335638
Johnson3286130
Delaware311575
Clark306263
Vigo275340
Madison250896
LaPorte239261
Cass229724
Warrick205065
Kosciusko201127
Floyd187468
Howard169466
Bartholomew147958
Marshall147428
Dubois146426
Wayne142031
Grant133539
Henry133030
Boone129150
Hancock124744
Noble122935
Jackson121018
Dearborn103128
Morgan100340
Lawrence96838
Gibson94412
Clinton92416
Daviess92334
Shelby90632
LaGrange82815
Knox81810
Harrison81024
Posey7767
Putnam77616
Fayette76719
DeKalb76011
Jasper6885
Miami6715
Steuben6608
Montgomery63122
White62316
Greene57838
Adams5607
Scott55413
Decatur52839
Ripley4838
Whitley4836
Clay4617
Sullivan45714
Wells45611
Huntington4455
Starke4438
Wabash4439
Orange42425
Spencer4176
Randolph39210
Jennings38713
Washington3873
Franklin38325
Fulton3785
Perry36914
Jefferson3655
Pike35718
Carroll34313
Jay3386
Fountain3293
Tipton28423
Vermillion2721
Parke2564
Rush2464
Blackford2394
Newton23711
Owen2151
Martin2050
Pulaski1783
Crawford1631
Brown1473
Ohio1337
Union1140
Benton1130
Switzerland980
Warren911
Unassigned0236

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events