Mass shootings prevented by armed citizens
According to an analysis of FBI data by Jacob Paulsen in 2018, 94% of all mass shootings were thwarted by law-abiding armed citizens. Also in 2018, the Crime Prevention Research Center, reported that nearly 98% of all mass public shootings in the U.S. since 1950 occurred in a gun-free zone. Additionally, "[o]f the 97 countries where we identified mass public shootings, the U.S. ranks 64th per capita in its rate of attacks and 65th in fatalities. Major European countries, such as Norway, Finland, France, Switzerland and Russia, all have at least 25 percent higher per capita murder rates from mass public shootings."
The following are incomplete lists of instances where mass shootings and loss of life have been prevented by armed, law-abiding citizens:
- 1 Spree killers and mass killings
- 2 Incidents in which an armed citizen stopped an active shooter
- 3 Incidents in which an armed security guard or designated security individual stopped an active shooter
- 4 Incidents in which a shooter is believed to have planned an attack but retreated as a result of the presence of armed citizens
- 5 Incidents involving fewer than three potential victims
- 6 Further reading
- 7 See also
- 8 References
Spree killers and mass killings
The Federal Bureau of Investigation defines "mass killings as "three or more killings in a single incident". A spree killer is someone who kills two or more victims in a short time, in multiple locations.
Incidents in which an armed citizen stopped an active shooter
The following lists incidents of armed citizens stopping a shooter. Some gun control advocates describe these as "a lucky break"; however, it stretches credibility that such an armed confrontation would be pre-planned.
(The following lists do not include instances in which the "armed citizen" is the actual shooter committing suicide.)
The FBI stated:
Armed and unarmed citizens engaged the shooter [during the 2016-2017 time frame] in 10 incidents. They safely and successfully ended the shootings in eight of those incidents. Their selfless actions likely saved many lives.
The enhanced threat posed by active shooters and the swiftness with which active shooter incidents unfold support the importance of preparation by law enforcement officers and citizens alike.
The following is a partial list describing citizens engaging active shooters:
|2018||Unknown||Titusville, FL||An as-yet-unidentified bystander with a concealed carry handgun took down a would-be mass shooter in Isaac Campbell Park.|
|May 24, 2018||Carlos Nazario, Bryan Wittle||Oklahoma City, OK||Two armed men, Carlos Nazario and Bryan Wittle (who did not know each other), gunned down a shooter Thursday at in Louie's Grill & Bar, Oklahoma City, killing Alexander C. Tilghman, an attacker who had struck three people inside the restaurant from a position outside the front door of the restaurant.|
|Nov 17, 2017||Robert Lorenzo Bailey, Jr.||Rockledge, FL||Bailey, armed with a handgun, allegedly began shooting in the parking lot of Schlenker Automotive in Rockledge. The manager of the auto repair shop and an employee, both possessing valid CDW permits, exchanged gunfire with the shooter. One person was killed; one was wounded. The shooter, shot twice during the exchange, was held at gunpoint by the manager until law enforcement arrived and took him into custody.|
|Nov 5, 2017||Devin Patrick Kelley||Sutherland Springs, TX||Sutherland Springs Church Shooting - At First Baptist Church in Southerland Springs, Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, armed with a rifle, exited his vehicle and began shooting outside the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. He then entered the church and continued shooting at members of the congregation. The shooter exited the church and was confronted by a citizen who possessed a valid firearms permit. The citizen shot the shooter twice, causing the shooter to drop his rifle and flee the scene in his vehicle. The armed citizen, together with the owner of a pickup truck, pursued the shooter. The chase ended when the shooter's vehicle struck a road sign and overturned. Twenty-six people were killed; 20 were|
|Oct 23, 2017||Alan Ashmore||Clearlake Oaks, CA||Ashmore, armed with a shotgun and a handgun, allegedly began firing into several homes and a vehicle in Clearlake Oaks, California, killing two people, including his father, and wounding one. Another person was wounded while fleeing out of a residence window. The shooter then shot and wounded a responding law enforcement officer before fleeing in his vehicle. The shooter drove to a nearby gas station and exchanged gunfire with the attendant, who possessed a CDW permit. The shooter fled the scene in his vehicle and drove to another gas station where he fired more shots. The shooter then drove to a nearby winery and shot at some employees before surrendering to law enforcement officers after a short vehicle pursuit. The entire incident lasted about 30 minutes. Two people were killed; three were wounded (including one law enforcement officer and one person who sustained injuries incidental to the incident). The shooter was apprehended by law enforcement. Note: The citizen involvement appears to be limited to the gas station. The shooter was thwarted at the station, but not stopped there.|
|Sep 24, 2017||Emanuel Kidega Samson||Antioch, TN||On September 24, 2017, at 11:15 a.m., Emanuel Kidega Samson, armed with two handguns, allegedly began shooting in the parking lot of the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch. After killing one person, the shooter entered the church and shot six people. A church usher who attempted to subdue the shooter was pistol-whipped. During the altercation, the shooter accidentally shot himself. While the shooter was preoccupied, the citizen, who possessed a valid firearms permit, retrieved a handgun from his car and held the shooter at gunpoint until law enforcement arrived. One person was killed; seven were wounded.|
|May 3, 2017||James Jones||Arlington, TX||At Zona Caliente Sports Bar, Arlington, TX, - James Jones walked inside the Zona Caliente Sports Bar, started yelling and then allegedly shot and killed Cesar Perez. An armed CDW permit holder then shot Jones. Police stated that Jones had another semiautomatic pistol with a filed-off serial number, and two knives on him.|
|Sep 28, 2016||Jesse Dewitt Osborne||Townville, SC||Townville Elementary School playground, Jesse Dewitt Osborne, 14, armed with a handgun, allegedly began shooting at the Townville Elementary School playground. Prior to the shooting, the shooter, a former student, killed his father at their home. Two people were killed, including one student; three were wounded, one teacher and two students. A volunteer firefighter, who possessed a CDW permit, restrained the shooter until law enforcement officers arrived and apprehended him.|
|Jun 26, 2016||Jody Ray Thompson||Spartanburg, SC||An irate man opened fire on patrons waiting to enter into the Playoffz nightclub. In self-defense, someone returned fire stopping the incident.|
|Mar 21, 2016||James Howard||Logan, OH||Gun shop owner in Logan refused to sell a gun to a customer, even though he passed a background check.|
|Apr 17, 2015||Everardo Custodio||Chicago||At Chicago's Logan Square, Uber driverEverardo Custodio was waiting for pedestrians to cross the street when a man began firing into the crowd. The driver pulled out a handgun and fired six shots at Custodio, hitting him several times. Responding officers found Custodio lying on the ground, bleeding. No other injuries were reported.|
|Mar 22, 2015||(not released)||Falah Barber Shop, Philadelphia||A man opened fire in a barber shop. After unnamed gunman opened fire on customers and barbers at the barber shop following an argument, a legal gun permit carrier outside heard the gunfire, ran into the shop and took out his own gun. He then opened fire, striking the first gunman once in the chest. Philadelphia Police Captain Frank Llewellyn stated, "He responded and I guess he saved a lot of people in there."|
|Jul 24, 2014||Richard Plotts||Media, PA||At Fitzgerald Hospital, in Media, PA, psychiatric patient Richard Plotts who killed his caseworker — and grazed his psychiatrist. The psychiatrist, Dr. Lee Silverman, fired back, stopping the gunman.|
|Dec 11, 2012||Jacob Tyler Roberts||Clackamas Town Center, OR (Portland area)||Clackamas Mall Shooting - Roberts opened fire in an Oregon mall, killing two people. Nick Meli, who was also armed, brandished his pistol while taking cover. Meli did not risk firing due to a bystander behind the attacker. On seeing that Meli was armed, Roberts used his next shot to take his own life. Roberts shot two people and injured another before shooting himself. Nick Meli, with a CDW permit and carrying a Glock 22, confronted Roberts but did not fire because of a bystander in the line of fire. At that point Roberts retreated and committed suicide. Note: It is unclear whether Roberts killed himself because he was confronted by Nick Mili.|
|Sep 9, 2012||William Allabaugh||Plymouth, PA||Allabaugh killed one man and wounded another following an argument over Allabaugh being ejected from a bar. Allabaugh then approached a bar manager and Mark Ktytor and reportedly pointed his gun at them; Ktytor, who had a concealed-carry license, then shot Allabaugh.|
|Jul 13, 2012||Davis Dawkins, Duwayne Henderson||Ocala, FL||A 71-year-old man saved the lives of many at Palms Internet Cafe. When robbers entered the cafe with weapons, Samuel Williams pulled out his gun and scared off the suspects.|
|Mar 25, 2012||Jesse Gates||Spartanburg, S.C.||Jesse Gates went to his church armed with a shotgun and kicked in a door. But Aaron Guyton, who had a concealed-carry license, drew his gun and pointed it at Gates, and other parishioners then disarmed Gates.|
|May 2–3, 2009||Calvin Lavant, Jamal Hill||Atlanta||Lavant and Hill broke into an apartment during a party and forced everyone to the floor. After they gathered various valuables, and separated the men and the women, and Lavant said to Hill, "we are about to have sex with these girls, then we are going to kill them all," and began "discussing condoms and the number of bullets in their guns." At that point, Sean Barner, a Marine who was attending Georgia State as part of the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program, managed to get to the book bag he brought to the party; took out his gun; shot and scared away Hill; went into the neighboring room, where Lavant was about to rape one of the women; was shot at by Lavant, and shot back and hit Lavant, who then ran off and later died of his injuries. One of the women was shot and wounded in the shootout. The reporter estimates that it seemed very likely that Lavant and Hill would have killed (as well as raped) some or all of the partygoers had they not been stopped. Barner was a Marine, but was acting as a civilian, carrying a gun as a civilian and had a CDW permit.|
|May 25, 2008||Ernesto Villa Gomez||Winnemucca, NV||At about 02:25, Ernesto Villa Gomez. 30, walked into Player's Bar & Grill and starting shooting. 20-year-old Jose Torres and his 19-year-old brother Margarito Torres were killed. Villa Gomez was shot and killed by a patron with a CDW permit, after having killed two people and wounded two others in a bar filled with 300 people. When Villa Gomez was reloading his semi-automatic gun, a man from Reno, with a CDW, shot Villa Gomez. The killings were apparently related to a family argument, so the shooter's intentions regarding other patrons were unclear.|
|Dec 9, 2007||Matthew Murray||Arvada and Colorado Springs, CO||Matthew Murray killed two and injured two at Youth With a Mission training center in Arvada, Colorado. While police were trying to track Murry, Murry went to New Life Church in Colorado Springs, killing two and injured three. It is unclear whether Murry was carrying 1000 rounds of ammunition as a peace offering. At New Life Church volunteer security worker, Jeanne Assam ran toward the line of fire, killing the shooter.|
|Apr 24, 1998||Andrew Wurst||Edinboro, PA||Parker Middle School Dance Shooting - At a school dance held at Nick's Place banquet hall, Andrew Wurst murdered a science teacher, John Gillette, and wounded two classmates. The owner of the banquet hall confronted Wurst with a shotgun, and ordering Wurst to put his weapon down. The dance theme was, "Had the Time of My Life".|
|Oct 1, 1997||Luke Woodham||Pearl River, MS||At Pearl High School, Luke Woodham killed his mother by stabbing, and then proceeded to Pearl High School. He walked into Pearl High's commons, an enclosure created by the school's buildings. He then took a .30-.30 rifle from beneath his trench coat and opened fire, wounding seven schoolmates and killing two. He was subdued by assistant principal Joel Myrick, who pulled a .45-cal. pistol from his car and ordered the gunman to the ground. At that point, Woodham is reported to have said, "Mr. Myrick, I was the guy who gave you the discount on the pizza the other night."|
Thalys train, Amsterdam to Paris, 21 August 2015 - Ayoub El Khazzani, armed with an AKM (Modernized Kalashnikov) rifle, with 270 rounds, and a pistol was subdued by Damien A., a French banker, Mark Moogalian (French, U.S.), Chris Norman (UK), Anthony Sadler (U.S.), Alek Skarlatos (U.S.), Oregon Army National Guard Specialist, and Spencer Stone (U.S.), USAF, and an off-duty French train driver. Norman, Sadler, Skarlatos, and Stone were awarded Knights of the Legion of Honour (Chevaliers de la Légion d'honneur) by French president François Hollande. Note: The people who stopped the terrorist were not armed (until the terrorist "loaned" them his gun), but the idea is that citizens did, in fact, stop the attacker without waiting for the police to arrive.
Incidents in which an armed security guard or designated security individual stopped an active shooter
|Sep 13, 2017||Caleb Sharpe||Rockford, WA||On September 13, 2017, at 10:00 a.m., Caleb Sharpe, 15, armed with a rifle and a pistol, allegedly began shooting at Freeman High School in Rockford, Washington, where he was a student. One student was killed; three students were wounded. A school employee confronted the shooter, ordered him to the ground, and held him there until law enforcement arrived and took him into custody.|
|Jul 30, 2017||Rick Whited||Gateway, CO||Rick Whited, armed with a handgun, allegedly began shooting from his truck at passing cars along Highway 141 in Gateway, Colorado. No one was killed; no one was wounded. The shooter exchanged gunfire with two Gateway Canyons General Store security officers before fleeing the scene.|
|May 3, 2015||Elton Simpson, Nadir Soofi, Abdul Kareem (accomplice)||Garland, TX||Garland, Texas Shooting - At the Culwell Center in Garland, Texas, two gunmen opened fire outside of a Prophet Mohammed cartoon drawing contest in 2015 held by Pamela Geller at the Curtis Culwell Center, which was the venue of earlier jihadist conference. The two attackers were killed by police and security, preventing participants at the event from being killed. (May 3, 2015) An undercover FBI agent was investigating terrorism at the venue, but apparently did not participate in stopping the attack.|
|Sep 24, 2014||Alton Nolen||Moore, OK||Alton Nolen was charged with first-degree murder in the gruesome beheading of a Vaughan Foods worker. His rampage was halted by Mark Vaughan, a reserve sheriff's deputy and the company's chief operating officer, who used his personal firearm to wound Nolen.|
|Jan 31, 2013||(unnamed attacker)||Atlanta||A shooter opened fire at Prince Middle School in Atlanta, Georgia. However, after wounding only one student, the suspect was disarmed by an armed guard who was stationed at the school.|
|Dec 9, 2007||Matthew Murray||Colorado Springs, CO||Colorado Springs Church Shootings - Matthew Murray, killed two people early Sunday at a missionary training center near Denver and had killed two teenage sisters in the parking lot at New Life Church. New Life Church guard, Jeanne Assam shot Murray. The shooter politely assisted Jeanne Assam by shooting himself twice after being shot by Assam.|
Incidents in which a shooter is believed to have planned an attack but retreated as a result of the presence of armed citizens
These are naturally difficult to identify. Most reports are derived from confessions or investigations following an attack elsewhere.
|Oct 23, 2017||Alan Ashmore||Multiple Locations in Clearlake Oaks, CA||On October 23, 2017, at 11:23 a.m., Alan Ashmore, 61, armed with a shotgun and a handgun, allegedly began firing into several homes and a vehicle in Clearlake Oaks, California, killing two people, including his father, and wounding one. Another person was wounded while fleeing out of a residence window. The shooter then shot and wounded a responding law enforcement officer before fleeing in his vehicle. The shooter drove to a nearby gas station and exchanged gunfire with the vendor, who possessed a valid firearms permit. The shooter fled the scene in his vehicle and drove to another gas station where he fired more shots. The shooter then drove to a nearby winery and shot at some employees before surrendering to law enforcement officers after a short vehicle pursuit. The entire incident lasted about 30 minutes. Two people were killed; three were wounded (including one law enforcement officer and one person who sustained injuries incidental to the incident). The shooter was apprehended by law enforcement. Of note, the gas station attendant was unable to stop the shooter, but the shooter fled the scene, which is why this incident is cited here.|
|Jun 11-12, 2016||Omar Mir Seddique Mateen||Orlando||Pulse Nightclub Shooting - Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, 29, armed with a rifle and a handgun, began shooting patrons inside Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. After a 3-hour delay, a police SWAT team exchanged gunfire with the shooter, killing the shooter. On the night of the shooting, Mateen had originally targeted Disney Springs club, near Epcot Center at about 10 PM (June 11). Based on evidence presented during a trial of Marteen's wife (in which she was acquitted), prior to going to the Pulse Nightclub, Mateen abandoned the Disney Springs attack when several uniformed police officers were at the location. Marteen then proceeded to EVE Orlando club at 12:55 AM (June 12), but left six minutes later in the face of "heavy police presence". He then used his phone to search "downtown orlando nightclubs", and proceeded to arrive at Pulse at 1:37 AM. At the time, the Pulse Nightclub Shooting was widely described as targeting homosexuals, but at least initially, Marteen did not realize his target was a gay bar, as he is reported to have asked a security guard at the club where all the women were just before he started shooting.|
Incidents involving fewer than three potential victims
(This section also includes incidents in which the armed attacker's intent was not clear; e.g., the interruption of an armed robbery.)
|Jun 17, 2018||Tim O. Day||Tumwater, WA||In two sequential carjackings, the suspect shot a 16-year-old boy, and proceeded to a Walmart, where he fired at a locked ammunition display case. The suspect then attempted to hijack another car (3 attempts), and shot and critically injured a second driver at the Walmart parking lot. He was engaged by two armed citizens, who apparently took issue with the suspect's approach to acquiring vehicles, and a third citizen engaged the suspect from his car. The suspect didn't survive the encounter.|
|Jun 9, 2013||Brandon Alexander Perez||Stanton, CA||72-year-old Jan Cooper saved her life and the life of her 85-year-old World War II veteran husband, who uses a wheelchair. Brandon Alexander Perez, 31, was breaking into the Cooper's Southern California home, when the grandmother fired one shot from her .357 Magnum Smith and Wesson revolver, which scared the burglar off.|
|Dec 21, 2012||(not named)||Laveen, AZ (Phoenix area)||A 14-year-old boy saved himself and his younger siblings after an armed intruder entered their home. After breaking into the home and pointing a gun at the 14, 12, and 8-year-olds, the 14-year-old fired, placing the intruder in the hospital and saving his family. (NOTE: some stories have this reported as occurring July 19, 2013.)|
|Dec 31, 2011||Dustin Stewart||Blanchard, OK||Sarah McKinley, an 18-year-old mother saved the life of herself and her baby in Blanchard. There, a knife-wielding intruder was attempting to enter Sarah McKinley's mobile home shortly after her husband died of lung cancer in 2012. After breaking in, McKinley used a shotgun to stop the intruders, killing one suspect and scaring the other intruder off.|
|Aug 30, 2010||Michael O'Neal Bynum||Decatur, AL||A 69-year-old grandmother protected herself and her home in Alabama in 2010. After hearing a burglar break into her house, Ethel Jones fired three shots, wounding and scaring off the intruder, who was later arrested by police.|
|Jan 6, 2015||(not named)||Ashtabula, OH||A pregnant mother of two saved herself and her children after two intruders entered her home in Ashtabula, Ohio. After refusing to let the two intruders in, they broke down her back door. As they proceeded up her stairs, the shot at them, hitting one intruder and scaring them both off until police arrived.|
|Jan 2, 2006||(not named)||Elkhart, IN||A would-be robber was shot in 2006 by an employee at Media Madhouse in Indiana. After the suspect entered the building holding a gun on an employee and demanding money, a second employee jumped into action and shot the suspect, saving both employees and customers.|
- UPDATED: Compiling Cases where concealed handgun permit holders have stopped mass public shootings and other mass attacks, by the Crime Prevention Research Center, September 20, 2016.
- Duke, Selwyn (November 28, 2018). Guns Save Lives — Armed Citizens Thwart Active Shooters 94 Percent of the Time. The New American. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
- Prestigiacomo, Amanda (February 22, 2018). What Percentage Of Mass Shootings Happen In 'Gun Free Zones'? The Number Is Stunning. The Daily Wire. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
- UPDATED: Mass Public Shootings keep occurring in Gun-Free Zones: 97.8% of attacks since 1950. Crime Prevention Research Center. May 23, 2018. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
- Hawkins, Awr (November 20, 2018). Study: 97.8% of Mass Shootings Since 1950 Occurred in ‘Gun-Free Zones’. Breitbart News. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
- John Lott, Chicago Tribute, Nov. 21, 2018
- New FBI Data on Active Shooters Shows the Importance of Armed Citizens, National Review May 25, 2018
- (definition in Wikipedia)
- The Volokh Conspiracy articls reason.com/volokh/2018/05/14/civilians-with-guns-intervening-in-activ, describing claims of "a lucky break"
- Active Shooter Incidents in the United States in 2016 and 2017, report, US Dept. of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation (.pdf)
- Armed bystanders kill shooter at Oklahoma City restaurant, CNN May 25, 2018
- Schlenker’s Automotive Suspected Shooter Robert Bailey Indicted By Brevard Grand Jury On First-Degree Murder Charge Space Coast Daily, December 19, 2017
- abcnews.go.com, October 24, 2017
- Nashville church usher praised for confronting accused gunman in deadly shooting, CBS News, September 25, 2017
- 'Good Samaritan' Kills Active Shooter in Texas Sports Bar: Police, NBC News, May 4, 2017
- www.wyff4.com, Sep 30, 2016
- Concealed carrier takes down shooter at South Carolina nightclub, Washington Times
- Gun shop owner refuses to sell gun to eligible customer, possibly prevents mass shooting
- Uber Bans Guns After Driver Uses One to Stop Attempted Mass Shooting, Breitbart.com
- [http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-uber-driver-shoots-gunman-met-0420-20150419-story.html Chicago Tribune story, April 20, 2015
- Gunman Shot, Killed Inside West Philly Barbershop, NBC News, Philadelphia, Mar 22, 2015
- Fox News July 26, 2014, citing Associated Press
- Clackamas Town Center shooting: 22 minutes of chaos and terror as a gunman meanders through the mall, Oregonlive - The Oregonian, December 15, 2012
- The Citizen's Voice September 10, 2012
- [https://abcnews.go.com/US/florida-man-71-shoots-alleged-robbers-internet-cafe/story?id=16800859 ABC News, July 18, 2012
- 1 of 2 suspects sentenced for attempted robbery at Palms Internet Cafe, ocala.com, Ocala Star-Banner (Apr 30, 2013)
- 11 times a good guy with a gun stopped a bad guy, saving lives, Washington Times slideshow listicle
- Fox Carolina March 25, 2012
- Washington Post The Volokh Conspiracy October 3, 2015, Eugene Volokh
- Three Men Killed in Winnemucca Shooting on Sunday, KTVN TV website (May 25, 2008)
- "Denver 7" Dec 10, 2007
- Andrew Wurst, Criminal Justice Research
- Warning signs ignored, The Journal Times, Apr 27, 1998
- Mississippi Gothic, Time (time.com), June 24, 2001
- How an Assistant Principal With a Gun Stopped a School Shooter, FrontPage Magazine
- Media Bias Accusations Don’t Exactly Tell Whole Story, patrickkphillips.com (July 11, 2013)
- 2 members of U.S. military stop Islamist attacker on train in BelgiumCNN, January 8, 2018
- https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=2015_Thalys_train_attack&oldid=834187563 Wikipedia article on Thalys train attack]
- Records: Undercover FBI agent was at Garland, Texas, attack azcentral.com (feb. 10, 2017)
- https://www.cnn.com/2013/01/31/us/georgia-student-shot/index.html CNN, February 1, 2013]
- New York Times December 12, 2007
- Investigative Update Regarding Pulse Nightclub Shooting, fbi.gov, June 20, 2016
- Pulse shooter visited Disney, another club in hours before attack, widow's defense says, Orlando Sentinal (March 5, 2018)
- New evidence shows the Pulse nightclub shooting wasn’t about anti-LGBTQ hate, Vox article, Apr 5, 2018
- Jan Cooper, Calif. grandma, fires gun and scares off intruder, cops say, Jan Cooper, Calif. grandma, fires gun and scares off intruder, cops say, CBS News (June 12, 2013)
- Phoenix boy, 14, shoots armed intruder while watching three younger siblings, Fox News (June 23, 2012)
- Teen widow who shot dead home invader who 'wanted her late 58-year-old husband's meds' WON'T face charges, Daily Mail, 6 January 2012.
- Pregnant mother of two shoots home intruder in chest, Ashtabula Current (January 7, 2015)
- Store clerk shoots would-be robber, police say, Northwest Indiana Times (January 3, 2006)