The FBI is reporting a slight decline in the number of “active shooter” incidents last year but says the tally still surpassed the levels seen in most of the last five years.
The FBI defines an active shooter as “one or more individuals actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area” such as a school or night club.
Not all shootings are counted as active shooter incidents by the FBI. Excluded are cases of self-defense, gang violence, drug violence, and domestic disputes.
In a report released on Wednesday, the FBI said it counted a total of 50 active shooter incidents in 2022, down from 61 the previous year.
But that number is still 67% higher than five years ago when there were 30 active shooter incidents in the country.
“While we see a decrease from 2021 to 2022, we see over time, over the past 20 years since we’ve been reporting on active shooter incidents, and certainly in the last five years, there has been an overall increase in this number,” a senior FBI official said during a press call with reporters.
The biggest increase in recent years came in 2021, when the number of active shooter incidents jumped from 40 to 61, according to the report.
Although fewer people died in active shooter incidents in 2022 than in 2021, the total casualty count — deaths and injuries combined — was higher last year than the year before and the highest in five years..
The shootings caused a combined 313 casualties, including 100 killed and 213 wounded, up from 243 in 2021, including 103 people killed and 140 wounded, the report said.
Last year’s casualty count was the highest in five years, the report said.
According to the report, 13 of the 50 incidents last year resulted in mass killings, defined as four or more people shot dead in a single incident.
Not everyone agrees on what constitutes a mass shooting, however. The Gun Violence Archive uses a broader definition that encompasses incidents with at least four victims, either injured or killed. By this definition, the non-profit tallied 646 mass shootings last year, more than ten times the number reported by the FBI.
In its report, the FBI singled out four incidents that claimed the most lives or inflicted the most injuries last year.
On May 24, a gunman entered Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, opening fire on students and staff. Nineteen children and two adults were killed.
It was the deadliest school shooting since 2012, when a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Ten days before the Uvalde massacre, another gunman entered a supermarket in a predominantly African American neighborhood of Buffalo, New York, killing ten people and injuring three.
The two incidents with the highest number of injuries but fewer deaths occurred in Highland Park, Illinois, and Colorado Springs, Colorado.
On July 4, a gunman perched atop a commercial building fired into an Independence Day parade crowd, killing seven and wounding 48 others.
On November 19, five people were killed and 28 others wounded when a gunman opened fire in an LGBTQ club.
The FBI says it tracks active shooter incidents to give law enforcement agencies and the public a baseline understanding of the problem.
This year’s report offers a wealth of details about the shooters, the time and location of the shootings, and the types of weapons used in the assaults.
Among the report’s key findings:
- Of the 50 shooters, 47 were male. They ranged in age between 15 and 70 years old. Four shooters wore body armor, while two acted as snipers.
- In nearly half of the incidents, the shooter had a known connection to the location, the victim or both.
- In the incidents, the shooters used a total of 61 weapons, including 29 handguns, 26 rifles, three shotguns, and three unknown firearms.
- The 50 active shooter incidents occurred in 25 states and the District of Columbia, with Texas reporting six incidents, more than any other state.
- The shootings took place in seven types of locations, including open spaces, commercial buildings, residences, educational facilities, government buildings, houses of worship, and a healthcare facility.
For 2021, FBI highlighted an emerging trend involving “roving active shooters,” or gunmen who shoot in multiple locations.
That trend was observed in 2022 as well, the senior FBI official said without giving a number.