In the two deadliest shootings in the U.S. this year, the accused gunman displayed warning signs before his killing spree. Neither Nikolas Cruz in Florida nor Ian David Long in California were committed for treatment.
In the two deadliest shootings in the U.S. this year, the accused gunman displayed warning signs before his killing spree. Nikolas Cruz demonstrated an obsession with guns and was the subject of more than a dozen police visits at home before he went on a shooting rampage that left 17 dead at his former high school in Parkland, Fl. Ian David Long, who authorities say burst into the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, Ca., Wednesday and gunned down 12 people before taking his own life, was found to be “acting a little irrationally’’ when police visited his house in April. Yet Cruz and Long were both deemed not to be a danger to themselves or others, and they were neither committed for treatment nor forbidden from possessing weapons, USA Today reports.
Amid the grief over another mass shooting, there’s a sense of frustration over the failure to pick up on those cues. Mental health experts say that, in the absence of expressed credible threats, predicting violent behavior presents a significant challenge. “The ability to identify an individual’s first violent act is extraordinarily difficult – I would say it’s impossible,’’ said Steven Hoge, a forensic psychiatrist and clinical professor at Columbia University. Hoge warned against the common perception that the mental health system should identify dangerous people and get them off the streets. Even though they can begin the process of involuntary commitment when they determine someone to be dangerous, he said, the role of mental health professionals is to provide care.” Ventura County, Ca., Sheriff deputies had mental health specialists evaluate Long in April. They did not pursue further action.