- Mass killings that occur in public places are a small fraction of all US mass murders.
- Workplace murders by employees are rare, says criminologist James Allan Fox.
- Since 2006, about 3% of all mass murders have occurred in the workplace and were perpetrated by a current or former employee.
Authorities say six people were killed and several others injured Tuesday night after a store manager opened fire at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia, in another string of fatal shootings across the country.
Officers found the shooter dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The attack in the store break room comes days after a shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado, left at least five people dead and at least 17 injured.
So far this year, 202 people have been killed in 40 mass killings across the country, according to a database of mass killings created through a partnership between USA Today, The Associated Press and Northeastern University.
Mass killings that occur in public places are a small fraction of all US mass murders. Those in the workplace are an even smaller part.
Experts such as James Allen Fox, a criminologist and professor at Northeastern University, say workplace homicides by employees are comparatively rare. Here’s what to know.
Newest:Walmart manager opens fire in break room in Chesapeake, Virginia, killing six people
How often do mass murders happen in the workplace?
According to the database, there have been 17 mass murders in the workplace by a current or former employee since 2006, resulting in 106 deaths. This is about 3% of the total incidents of mass murder since 2006.
“In terms of workplace homicides, most are not actually committed by employees,” Fox said.
Fox said that when an employee shoots in the workplace, the assailant usually feels wronged by the company.
He said, “You cannot kill the company, but you can still harm the company by killing the employees.” “It’s usually anger and animosity toward the job or company.”
In 2020, an employee of a brewery at the Molson Coors complex in Milwaukee shot and killed five co-workers before killing himself. This was the 13th mass workplace shooting by a current or former employee since 2006, according to the database.
A year earlier, in February 2019, a worker at a manufacturing plant in Aurora, Illinois, killed five co-workers. Officers killed the gunman after a 90-minute shootout.
Fox said that many workplace firearms-related homicides that are not classified as mass shootings are related to robberies and some involving disgruntled customers or clients. Over the past decade, the number of firearm-related workplace homicides has fluctuated between 350 and 400, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census data on fatal occupational injuries. In 2018, 351 people were killed in homicides related to firearms in the workplace.
What defines mass murder?
A mass murder is generally defined as an incident in which four or more people, including the perpetrator, are killed.
Mass killings that occur in public places such as schools, markets or places of worship make up a small fraction of all US mass murders. Seven of the 40 mass murders this year, including the Chesapeake tragedy, were shootings in public places. Most are in private homes. Over the past 16 years, nearly 70% of mass murders occurred in a residence or other shelter.
According to USA Today, AP and Northeastern databases, since 2006, 2,742 people have been killed in 526 mass killings in all types of locations, and most were shootings. Of these, 361 people died in 52 mass murders, which occurred in public places such as commercial, retail and entertainment.
An analysis published in a criminology journal in 2016 found that during a four-year period, a failed or breakup relationship was the most common reason behind a mass murder.
Overall, about 45,000 people die from firearm-related injuries per year, according to 2020 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
More:Experts say gun violence is a public health epidemic. It needs to be treated like one.
More:Suspect in Colorado Springs nightclub massacre faces 5 counts of murder, hate crime: Update
Contributing: John Bacon, Thao Nguyen and Michelle Thorson, USA TODAY; The Associated Press