- Mass killings that take place in public places make up a small fraction of all mass killings in the US.
- Workplace murders by employees are rare, says criminologist James Alan Fox.
- As of 2006, approximately 3% of total mass murders occurred in a workplace and were committed by a current or former employee.
Six people were killed and several others injured after authorities said a store manager opened fire at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia, on Tuesday evening, another in a series of deadly shootings across the country.
Officers found the shooter dead of what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The attack, which took place in the break room of the store, comes days after at least five people were killed and at least 17 injured in the shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
So far this year, 202 people have died in 40 mass murders across the country, according to a database of mass murders maintained by a collaboration between USA TODAY, The Associated Press and Northeastern University.
Mass killings that take place in public places make up a small fraction of all mass killings in the US. Those that occur in a workplace are an even smaller fraction.
And workplace homicides by employees are relatively rare, say experts like James Alan Fox, a criminologist and professor at Northeastern University. Here’s what you need to know.
THE LAST:Walmart manager opens fire in break room, killing 6, in Chesapeake, Virginia
How common are mass murders at work?
According to the database, since 2006 there have been 17 mass murders in a workplace by a current or former employee, resulting in 106 deaths. That is about 3% of the total number of mass murders since 2006.
“In terms of workplace homicides, most of them aren’t actually committed by employees,” Fox said.
When an employee commits a workplace shooting, the attacker usually feels aggrieved by the company, Fox said.
“You can’t kill the company, but you can hurt the company by killing its employees,” he said. “It’s mostly anger and hostility toward the job or company.”
In 2020, a brewery worker on the Molson Coors campus in Milwaukee shot and killed five co-workers before committing suicide. According to the database, it was the 13th mass workplace shooting by a current or former employee since 2006.
The previous year, in February 2019, an employee at a factory in Aurora, Illinois, killed five colleagues. Officers killed the gunman after a 90-minute gunfight.
Many gun-related homicides in the workplace that are not classified as mass shootings are linked to robberies and some to disgruntled customers or customers, Fox said. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, the number of workplace homicides has fluctuated between 350 and 400 over the past decade. In 2018, 351 people were killed in an workplace homicide involving firearms.
What defines a mass murder?
A mass murder is usually defined as an incident in which four or more people are killed, not counting the perpetrator.
Mass killings that take place in public places such as schools, markets, or places of worship make up a small fraction of all mass killings in the US. Of the 40 mass murders this year, seven, including the Chesapeake tragedy, were shootings in public places. Most occur in private homes. In the past 16 years, about 70% of mass murders took place in a home or other shelter.
Since 2006, 2,742 people have been killed in 526 mass killings across multiple locations, and the majority were shootings, according to the USA TODAY, AP and Northeastern database. Of those, 361 people died in 52 mass killings that took place in public places such as commercial, shopping and entertainment venues.
A 2016 analysis published in a criminology journal found that over a four-year period, a failed or estranged relationship was the most common reason for mass murder.
According to 2020 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a total of about 45,000 people die each year from firearm-related injuries.
More:Gun violence is a public health epidemic, experts say. It should be treated as one.
More:Suspect faces 5 murders, hate crimes in Colorado Springs nightclub massacre: Updates
Contributors: John Bacon, Thao Nguyen, and Mitchell Thorson, USA TODAY; The associated press