Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Criminal Justice


C. Gabrielle Salfati

Committee Members

Maria Haberfeld

Michael Maxfield

Steven Gorelick

John Jarvis

Subject Categories

Criminology | Other Psychology


active shooter incidents, mass shootings, environmental criminology, offender profiling


The present dissertation examined 198 United States single-offender active shooter incidents and thematically differentiated cases based on 1) offender backgrounds, 2) precipitating stressors, 3) offender routine activity, 4) crime scene location, and 5) incident characteristics. Doing so contributed to the increasing number of studies that have stressed the importance of creating empirically-based models to better understand active shooter incidents and the offenders who are responsible. To structure this investigation into active shooter incidents, concepts within Environmental Criminology and Crime Analysis were paired with analytical methodologies seen in Offender Profiling and Investigative Psychology research.

The findings illustrated that offenders could be reliability classified based on differences in their characteristics and behavior. Moreover, by focusing on thematic differences between cases, it was possible to assess how individual variables were related to one another. This provided a method of better understanding the underlying nature of active shooter incidents at a conceptual level. However, while thematic differences between cases were identified when addressing individual aspects of these incidents (e.g., precipitating stressor or location selection), a clear connection across incident components was difficult to establish. That is, a direct relationship was not identified between active shooter offenders and their crime scene actions. The study therefore highlighted the complex relationship between offender backgrounds, their subsequent criminal behavior, and the role of situational factors outside of their control.