Police have not identified a motive for the shooting that injured three on YouTube’s corporate campus in California, but alleged shooter Nasim Najafi Aghdam was outspoken about her frustration with the video sharing site. USA TODAY
Women rarely carry out mass shootings in the United States, and when they do, those killings usually fall into one of two categories: robbery or family.
Before the shooting at YouTube’s northern California headquarters on Tuesday, women had committed only two mass shootings between 2006 and 2017 that did not involve the shooter’s family members as victims or robbery as a motive, according to an analysis of mass shootings data compiled by the USA TODAY NETWORK.
For its analysis “Behind the Bloodshed,” USA TODAY examined more than 350 mass killings that occurred between 2006 and 2017. The analysis defines a mass killing as one involving at least four deaths not including the shooter. That analysis found 17 mass shootings where one or more of the killers was a woman.
Under USA TODAY’s definition, the incident at YouTube on Tuesday was not a mass killing. Nasim Najafi Aghdam, 39, of San Diego shot and wounded three people before killing herself.
Both of the previous mass shootings by women that were not robberies or domestic violence occurred in California:
Jan. 30, 2006, Goleta, Calif.: After Jennifer Sanmarco, 44, a former postal service worker, was placed on early retirement for psychological problems, she moved to New Mexico where she legally purchased a 9mm gun. She returned to her former neighborhood where she shot and killed a neighbor with whom she had argued. She then drove to the mail distribution facility where she previously worked and killed six more people before committing suicide.
Dec. 2, 2015, San Bernardino, Calif.: Tashfeen Malik, 27, and her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, shot and killed 14 people at a holiday office party at Inland Regional Center. Farook had worked as an environmental health specialist for San Bernardino County for five years and had attended the party before the shooting. The couple died in a shootout with police, leaving behind a 6-month-old daughter.
Many mass killings are committed by men with grievances who stew over their problems and are reluctant to seek help, according to Sherry Hamby, a clinical psychologist and a psychology professor at The University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn.
Another factor is simple physics.
“Most men are quite a bit taller and heavier and stronger,” Hamby said. “You can’t perpetrate any kind of violence without overcoming your victim in some way.”
When men kill, their victims are family members or intimate partners less than 20% of the time. For women, it’s more than half, said James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University.
“Men are much more often the breadwinner in the family. They also tend to suffer more psychologically when terminated,” Fox said. “For men, they judge their self-worth by what they do. Women judge their self-worth by who they are and what kind of friend, sister, mother they are.”
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