FBI to media: Don't name mass shooters

'Don't Name Them' campaign aims to diminish 'contagion effect'

SAN ANTONIO – Mass-casualty active shooter crimes have increased dramatically over the past 12 years, going from 5 per year to an average of 15 per year.

Researchers at Texas State University have found many of the shooters are partially motivated by fame and have looked to past shooters for inspiration.

Now the FBI is encouraging media organizations to rethink the way they cover these stories by not focusing as much attention on the shooters. They call it the "Don't Name Them" campaign.

When an active shooting event results in the deaths and injury of numerous victims, reporters rush to the scene and the focus quickly shifts to the perpetrator of the crime and that could help motivate the next active shooter.

"When the media covers it, it unfortunately puts ideas in people's heads," said Chris Combs, special agent in charge of the San Antonio FBI field office.

Prior to taking his new assignment, Combs was the agency's lead for efforts to combat and respond to active shooter events across the nation.

In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, he was instrumental in forming a relationship with Texas State University's Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center.

In addition to training officers how to respond, the center also does research on the shootings. Their stats show media coverage of the shooter could inspire other shooters.


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