Early Shooter Detection

El Paso school shootings on the rise?


El Paso, Texas, school districts have been very fortunate in avoiding dangerous incidents concerning school shootings. However, in 2015, Ysleta ISD located in El Paso reported that a student was found on campus with an unloaded gun in his backpack. YISD official stated that at no time was there an imminent threat to anyone at the school. In 2017, a seventeen-year-old high school student was arrested for carrying a 9 mm handgun inside a car in the YISD school parking lot that was driven by the student. No one was hurt in this incident.

Ysleta High School, El Paso TX
Ysleta High School, El Paso TX

Promulgated threats are not taken likely by School Districts in El Paso. The El Paso Police department in 2018 investigated thirteen threats involving six schools in YISD made through social media. Sgt. Enrique Carrillo said,

“We want them to know there are serious consequences. It’s not a joke.”

Till now, El Paso has been spared in having an ineluctable incident involving teen shooters on campus.



FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich
FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich

FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich stated,

“The active shooter threat is here to stay.”

He further added that research showed that most or 77 percent of the active shooters spent a week or longer planning their attack and most showed multiple signs of warning behavior in the year before the violence. Not surprisingly, the FBI verified that 25 percent of the shooters were previously diagnosed with a mental illness and a majority obtained their guns legally.



In light of recent tragic events, the U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC) created an operational guide that provides steps that schools may use to target violence prevention by conducting threat assessments in schools. The purpose is to detect early clues of possible shooters planning to take action in a school that may be getting ready to use school violence.

The Operational guide for preventing targeted school violence provides four pathways that a prospective shooter may take. They are:

  1. Ideation: the student in question gets an idea or interest in school attacks.
  2. Planning: targeted attacks at school are rarely sudden or impulsive acts of violence. Learn how far is the student in the planning stage.
  3. Acquisition: threat assessment team gathers information, intelligence, concerning student in question.
  4. Implementation: determine whether the student’s thinking and behavior are organized enough to plan an attack and/or has the resources to carry it out.
Guns in Schools
Guns in Schools

The guide explains that a multidisciplinary threat assessment team should be established in order to carry out the violence prevention plan. The team will include faculty, staff, administrators, coaches, and available school resource officers who will direct, manage, and document the threat assessment process. Once the threat assessment team receives a referral, the team will focus on five steps to make an evaluation and assessment of the student in question. They focus on:

  1. Facts of a specific case.
  2. The person’s behavior rather than the person’s traits.
  3. Understanding of context of behavior.
  4. Examining the progression of behavior over time.
  5. Corroborating critical information.

The purpose of the threat assessment team is not punitive, but instead, their goal is to maintain safety and connect the student in question with the necessary help. The team should be an influential protective factor that can provide individualized management plans to mitigate identified risks with low-cost or no-cost options.



In 1995, the City of El Paso developed the Youth Initiative Program (YIP) to mitigate the gang problem. Over 100 public and private agencies, including public school districts, were united under a Memorandum of Understanding to help address the issues of youth through a propitious collaborative approach. The YIP Group Resource Staffing Committees (similar to the threat assessment team) worked closely with school counselors on campus to provide individual assistance to identified at-risk students at little to no cost to the family.


Today, for the most part, El Paso is a calm city where citizens share friendly smiles and low nefarious activity. Rose Diaz of West El Paso was born and raised in El Paso but moved to New York to attend college. She pointed out that when friends come to visit the borderland,

“They’re like ‘Wow, it’s so friendly here, it’s so nice here, it’s so calm.” Diaz continued, “They realize how family-oriented El Paso is, which says a lot about El Paso that not a lot of people leave, so it has to be a comfortable place to be.”


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