The shootings in Texas and Ohio that killed at least 29 people over the weekend left authorities searching for how to confront the challenges posed by mass violence and domestic terrorism, especially attacks driven by white-nationalist ideologies.
Violence committed by white men inspired by an extremist ideology represents an increasing number of domestic terrorism cases, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Of roughly 850 current domestic terrorism cases, 40% involve racially motivated violent extremism and a majority of those cases involve white supremacists, according to the FBI.
El Paso ranks among the deadliest shootings
Sutherland Springs, Texas
Number of mass public shootings*
Fatalities in mass public shootings*
*Mass shootings are the mass killings that involve guns, with four or more people killed, not including the assailant. †Year to date
Sources: News reports (deadliest shootings); Associated Press/USA Today/Northeastern University Mass Murder Database (killings, shootings by year)
Saturday’s attack in majority Hispanic El Paso, Texas, which left at least 20 people dead and 26 injured, was allegedly committed by a 21-year-old white man who was believed to have posted a manifesto of sorts that espoused anti-immigrant and white-nationalist ideology on a popular far-right website not long before the shooting.
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“We are most concerned about lone offenders, primarily using firearms, as these lone offenders represent the dominant trend for lethal domestic terrorists,” Michael McGarrity, the FBI’s top counterterrorism official, recently told lawmakers. “Frequently, these individuals act without a clear group affiliation or guidance, making them challenging to identify, investigate and disrupt.”
As of Sunday afternoon, the motive of the shooter in Dayton, Ohio, who killed nine people and injured 27, was unclear, authorities said. The man was shot dead at the scene by police.
Preventing—and understanding—such crimes has been vexing for federal law enforcement officials, who had in recent years been more focused on the threat posed by radical Islam and homegrown terrorists who pledge fealty to the Islamic State. But now, Mr. McGarrity said, that approach is changing as domestic-terrorism related arrests and killings have surpassed those involving Islamic extremism in recent years.