Local expert: 'Break in the cycle' appears over following 2nd mass shooting in a week | KSTP.com

Local expert: 'Break in the cycle' appears over following 2nd mass shooting in a week

Jessica Miles
Updated: March 23, 2021 07:39 PM
Created: March 23, 2021 06:30 PM

Police have arrested a 21-year-old man suspected of killing 10 people, including a police officer, Monday at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado.

Authorities say Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa had purchased the gun used in the shooting just six days earlier.

Boulder isn't the first Colorado city to endure a horrific act of gun violence — a mass shooting at Columbine High School in 1999 killed 12 students and a teacher, and 12 people died in a 2012 rampage at an Aurora movie theater.

"Unfortunately Colorado is one of the states that has had the most amount of mass shootings which is really heartbreaking," said James Densley, a criminal justice professor at Metropolitan State University, and cofounder and co-president of The Violence Project, which studies mass shootings like this one.

"It shouldn't be OK that people are being killed going grocery shopping or going to worship at a church or going to school," he said.

This last year, as the United States was locked down due to the global pandemic, Densley said there were two public mass shootings in which four or more people were killed. That number has been matched in less than a week following the mass shootings in Atlanta and Boulder.

"We had hoped that the break in the cycle that the pandemic had provided was also enough to change the script a little bit. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case," Densley said.

He says as things are opening up, frustrations are emerging, and mass shooters are following a pattern of what they've seen before.

"We can't keep doing the same thing and expect different results, we have to do something different and I think that's what this is teaching us now," Densley said.

He says there are things individuals, parents and educators can do.

"We can check in on people who we know are struggling in our lives, we can educate ourselves and train ourselves on crisis intervention, suicide prevention and de-escalation," Densley shared.

Instilling a culture of care and compassion at work and school is a must, he says, as is thinking about holistic violence prevention.

"All too often what ends up happening is we fall into the trap of saying, it has to be one thing or the other and in doing so we explain these problems away. We say, 'It was an act of terrorism, terrorist do bad things,' 'It's mental illness so that's what that is,' 'It's guns, so that's what that is' — and really what we need to recognize is it's kind of all of the above," Densley said.


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