Through the first six weeks of 2018, at least 171 people died in 76 instances in which someone was shot and killed by an individual they knew—who then killed himself or herself. The attackers ranged in age from 17 to 86.
On Saturday, a 45-year-old man fatally shot his parents at their home in Kentucky and drove to an apartment, where he shot and killed his girlfriend and her mother before turning the gun on himself. Gunman Joseph Nickell had a history that included domestic violence and substance abuse charges. The grisly murder spree still came as a shock to some who knew the family. Murder-suicide by gun occurs, on average, every day in the U.S., The Trace reports. Through the first six weeks of 2018, finds an analysis of Gun Violence Archive data, at least 171 people died in 76 instances in which someone shot and killed someone they knew and then killed themselves. The attackers ranged in age from 17 to 86. In all but six cases, the shooter was male, and the vast majority of cases involved current or former romantic partners.
Sonia Salari, a gerontologist at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, has spent the past decade studying murder-suicide among intimate partners. The result “interferes with people’s ability to have any justice, because there’s no trial,” she said. Salari and her team researched 731 murder-suicides between 1999 and 2005 that resulted in 1,633 deaths. They found that roughly 90 percent of the deaths were from guns. “In our dataset, we found 70 or so cases where we knew there was a protective order, and there was another handful where the woman tried for a protective order but was denied,” Salari said. “So we looked at those cases and said, ‘how did these people die?’ It was by gunfire.”