Predicting Casualties

A recent article in the Atlantic Wire indicates that mass shootings occur within certain patterns, with Spokane being a next potential target. The university police evaluate our preparedness here at EWU.

Predicting Casualties

In the Sept. 17 issue of The Atlantic Wire, journalist Philip Bump suggested Spokane citizens mark their calendars for Feb. 12, 2014 as the date of the next mass shooting, which Bump hypothesized could occur in Spokane.

Bump’s prediction was almost immediately proven false. On Sept. 19, 13 people were injured in a Chicago shooting.

Nevertheless, Bump’s prediction sparked fear in many local residents. Bump even specified the age, gender and ethnicity of the shooter, identifying him as a 38-year-old white male with a mental illness. Bump also stated the shooter would obtain his handgun legally in Washington state. The location of the shooting, according to Bump, would be at the shooter’s place of business.

Certain patterns in previous mass shootings led him to his conclusions. The non-profit news organization Mother Jones compiled data of 62 mass shootings over the past 30 years. Almost 80 percent of those shooters had obtained their handgun legally, and a vast majority of shooters suffered from some sort of mental illness.

These trends, suggested Bump, can allow us to recognize the type of individual with the potential to become a mass shooter.

According to Deputy Chief of University Police Gary Gasseling, Spokane has no reason to fear.


Graphic information provided by and the Atlantic Wire article


“We’re always on a level of high alert,” said Gasseling. “We’re not changing any of our processes. We’re always vigilant, and we’re always aware.”

After receiving much backlash from his original article, titled “There will be another mass shooting. This is what the data tells us about it,” Bump printed a supplementary article, specifically addressing the people of Spokane.

The article begins: “Our apologies. It was not our intention to frighten you. Or, rather it was not our intention to frighten just you.”

In this article, titled, “Spokane shouldn’t be the only place scared of the next mass shooting,” Bump questions why the rest of America is not as concerned as Spokane seemed to be about the potential for violence in our country. Bump selected Spokane based on his research of previous patterns of mass shootings and their connection to populations in cities and states.



Bump acknowledged that a mass shooting is not something that can be predicted. “The point was mostly just to say, ‘We need to take into consideration how these things happen and the ways in which we can predict to some extent the sorts of people that may be prone to take that sort of action,’” said Bump. “Our intention was to say the people of Spokane should be as worried as anyone else in America — not overly [worried] but conscious of the fact that this could happen. It happens all too often.”

Gasseling specified certain ways in which the university police are taking steps to prevent such actions. Police officers meet weekly with the dean of students to discuss and assess what has happened over the course of the week and if any of those events could be indicative of potential future violence.


“We train for this, [but] being prepared doesn’t mean we can prevent it. It means our response will be really quick, and be really swift and really sure,” said Gasseling. “We’re going to take care of the incident. If you’re prepared, you’re going to minimize what’s going to happen.”

The university police page on the EWU website provides information on how students can be prepared in the event of a campus shooting. According to the police, reporting the intruder as soon as possible is the most crucial aspect of ensuring safety.

“There’s a whole lot more [students] out there than any of us. You’re going to see things way sooner than we are because by the time the 911 call comes in, things have already gone completely sideways for us,” Gasseling said.

For more information on actions to take if an armed individual comes to campus,  visit: and