- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 29, 2018

A new study released Thursday by the Secret Service found that 64 percent of perpetrators in mass attacks had some symptoms of mental illness.

The Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center looked at 28 incidents of mass violence and found that 25 percent of those cases involved a person who had been treated for “psychiatric” episodes. The study began months prior to last month’s Parkland, Florida, mass shooting, but the case has some links to the study’s findings.

“Our behavioral research on incidents of targeted violence has shaped how we conduct threat assessments as an agency,” said Assistant Director Frederick Sellers of the Secret Service’s Office of Strategic Intelligence and Information.

The report tried to find commonalities in the alleged suspect or convicted criminal including: age, location of attack, gender, motives and mental history. The agency defined a mass attack as an incident where three or more people are hurt in a public space.

The findings help agents identify the circumstances to prevent future incidents from occurring.

“We use multiple sources to gather and analyze information to assess concerning behaviors and identify mitigation strategies in support of our protective mission,” Mr. Sellers said.

Mass violence, particularly relating to gun violence, has taken on national prominence after the Florida high school shooting in February. Student activists have made gun control a major issue, but lawmakers — particularly Republicans — have argued that any legislation must include some provision on mental health.

The accused Parkland gunman was also reported to authorities for violent and erratic behavior, as well as concerns about his mental state.

• Sally Persons can be reached at spersons@washingtontimes.com.

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