The likelihood of a copycat attack following the Uvalde school shooting remains high for the next two weeks, but officials and media can do more to try and limit that possibility, a former law enforcement official told Fox News Digital.
“Studies have shown that, generally, the copycat phenomenon lasts for … maybe two weeks,” retired FBI special agent in charge Michael Tabman explained. “That is when we’re most at risk of a copycat, and there are many factors that go into why so many copycats, but the risk is there.”
A number of similar gun scares have already occurred across Texas, with several South Texas districts labeling the incidents as “copycat” threats: Local news outlet 3 News reported on three such threats of violence against schools, each of which officials and law enforcement handled.
But officials and law enforcement in states as far away as Colorado or California have raised concerns over copycat attacks. The caution led Denver police to detain two individuals and confiscate paintball guns Thursday morning after placing a school on lockdown due to a report of a weapon on campus.
One measure that some have suggested for combating the possibility of copycat attacks is to limit the information that is released to the public, but Tabman argued this creates a catch-22 which could actually increase the likelihood of a similar attack.
“From a forensic, psychological, social work perspective, we do want to know about the shooter, so maybe we can see the next one and prevent it,” Tabman, who also served as a police officer, said.
But withholding that information has proven more effective overall, and Tabman believes that it is better to try and maintain that practice.
“I think it does not help by, you know, bringing up the names of other [shooters] because that’s what they want: They want to be heard in death where they couldn’t be heard in life,” Tabman said. “This is what they want. They want the name out there. They want their story to be told, so if we just don’t tell the story – I don’t know if they’ll stop it, but it might be less motivation for some reason.”
“I really think we should resist this intervening thought highlighting whether this has been the biggest shooting ever,” he added. “I think there’s almost saying to the next shooter, you can do better than this, see if you can get more press.”
“I know it’s an emotionally important statistic from a loss of perspective, I get it, But I don’t think it’s helping our cause.”
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and the Uvalde County Sheriff’s office did not respond to a Fox News request for comment on the subject.