Why Maryland shooter's gender is so confounding

Criminology is the scientific study of the nature, causes and prevention of criminal behavior. It is an ever...

Posted: Sep 23, 2018 12:15 PM
Updated: Sep 23, 2018 12:15 PM

Criminology is the scientific study of the nature, causes and prevention of criminal behavior. It is an ever-evolving discipline continually raising as many questions as it provides answers. And with emergent threats constantly presenting themselves as contemporary challenges, law enforcement and homeland security professionals must constantly adapt to modern hazards.

So when 26-year-old Snochia Moseley arrived for her temporary job shift at a Rite Aid distribution facility Thursday morning, no one could have predicted the tragedy that was about to unfold. According to the Harford County Sheriff's office, Moseley shot and killed three innocent people and wounded three others before ultimately fatally shooting herself. Moseley's depraved actions left the experts who track these things undoubtedly shocked and perplexed.

Continents and regions

Maryland

North America

Northeastern United States

The Americas

United States

Crime, law enforcement and corrections

Crimes against persons

Criminal offenses

Firearms

Homicide

Law enforcement

Mass murder

Murder

Shootings

Weapons and arms

Moseley's actions broke a number of barriers, but not the type that first-of-their-kind overachievers typically strive for.

Snochia Moseley does not fit the profile those of us in law enforcement expect with a more typical mass murderer or active shooter. Though experts disagree on exact numbers and percentages, they do agree that white men have committed many, many more mass shootings than any other group. Moseley was an African-American woman.

In the midst of all the troubling questions surrounding why anyone would slaughter innocents who apparently had caused them no harm, there was this perplexing one: What would motivate a female active shooter in a country that anticipates and expects suspects in mass shootings to fit a particular stereotype, and how should we respond?

Snochia Moseley has left many unanswered questions in her wake as police begin to piece together clues as to just why she took her legally owned and registered 9 mm Glock pistol, and elected to gun down colleagues. A coworker described her to The Washington Post as "a nice person" but acknowledged she arrived at the Rite Aid facility yesterday morning in a "bad mood."

It has been reported that Moseley used Facebook to characterize herself as a "quiet" person with a self-described "to myself type of personality." Her social media profile also reportedly cited as a favorite quote the Old Testament law of retaliation -- "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth." But even this reference evokes more questions without offering answers.

We know that something prompted her to come to work with a concealed handgun and then do the unthinkable. Authorities said Moseley had been diagnosed with a mental illness in 2016. But as much as mental illness or workplace grievances may have been at play, this case simply refuses to follow established patterns and expected norms. And that "unknown" is exactly what is so damn troublesome and has left us scratching our heads in an effort to make sense of it all.

Within the criminal justice realm, we collect data and analyze it. We do this in the hope that, one day soon, it will allow us to understand criminal behavior and better predict harmful events before they happen, in order to keep our citizenry safer. That is the goal of law enforcement professionals and criminologists alike. To better predict future human behavior is to empower law enforcement proactively to prevent more senseless tragedies. It all sounds so obvious, so clinically sterile, so effortlessly simple.

And yet, as this case so clearly highlights -- it is not.

In 2014, the FBI conducted an active shooter study that tracked mass shooting incidents from 2000 until 2013. Of 160 recorded incidents, only six were perpetrated by female shooters. While the study did determine that all but two of the shooters acted alone, it surprisingly did not focus on shooters' ideological bents or motivations.

And so, we're left with a nagging question: Are men, who according to the FBI study constitute some 94% of what we define as "active shooting incidents" in the United States between 2000 and 2013, simply more predisposed to this type of aberrant behavior, or is there some other explanation? And when shootings deviate from our expectations, as in this case, how should law enforcement and others attempt to better anticipate these emergent threats?

As a former Army Ranger and FBI SWAT team leader, I am well aware of the "warrior" culture. But now, I'm older, wiser and currently engaged in a doctoral pursuit in Homeland Security. I am far more interested in the psychology behind personal and group conflicts. And the question of whether men are, by nature, more prone to violence, as a product of our culture is one that continues to befuddle me.

There may have been a biological component to this, too. Men have historically been endowed greater physical strength and traditionally have served as the protectors of their family units. This natural need to confront threats may have inadvertently contributed to the evolution of a more aggressive nature. But physical prowess may be a contraindication of "maleness" when wielded recklessly or for criminal purpose.

It is a fact that men commit the vast majority of homicides in our society and are more likely to start a war. But female shooters stand out, too, because they are, indeed, rarities. Take, for example, Tashfeen Malik, who along with her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, killed 14 and seriously wounded 22 in San Bernardino in December 2015. And just last April, Nasim Najafi Aghdam wounded three before taking her own life at YouTube's California headquarters.

All of which proves that law enforcement still has much work remaining in order to figure this all out.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 730969

Reported Deaths: 13434
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1000031743
Lake53771970
Allen40668678
St. Joseph35733552
Hamilton35629408
Elkhart28577442
Tippecanoe22402219
Vanderburgh22310397
Porter18776308
Johnson17970379
Hendricks17244315
Clark12985191
Madison12673339
Vigo12449247
LaPorte11928211
Monroe11893170
Delaware10696186
Howard9924216
Kosciusko9410117
Hancock8284141
Bartholomew8070156
Warrick7784155
Floyd7669178
Grant7060174
Wayne7051199
Boone6700101
Morgan6576139
Dubois6156117
Marshall6050111
Dearborn581378
Cass5808105
Henry5720103
Noble561384
Jackson501773
Shelby491996
Lawrence4546120
Harrison435872
Gibson435492
DeKalb428485
Clinton427453
Montgomery424189
Whitley396139
Huntington391980
Steuben387857
Miami381866
Knox371990
Jasper366047
Putnam360760
Wabash354179
Adams341354
Ripley339770
Jefferson330981
White314354
Daviess297399
Wells291581
Decatur285492
Fayette280762
Greene278985
Posey271533
LaGrange266770
Scott266354
Clay260247
Randolph240781
Washington240732
Spencer232131
Jennings230149
Starke216654
Fountain212346
Sullivan211942
Owen200256
Fulton195440
Jay195130
Carroll189320
Orange183654
Perry183037
Rush173425
Vermillion169143
Franklin168135
Tipton162845
Parke146316
Blackford134932
Pike134334
Pulaski116845
Newton107834
Brown102141
Crawford99814
Benton98614
Martin89115
Warren82115
Switzerland7918
Union71010
Ohio56811
Unassigned0416

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1085733

Reported Deaths: 19441
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1261201400
Cuyahoga1124072120
Hamilton801491206
Montgomery515591014
Summit47292946
Lucas42275788
Butler38396584
Stark32412907
Lorain25046481
Warren24313300
Mahoning21629588
Lake20725369
Clermont19803238
Delaware18537133
Licking16436212
Fairfield16230200
Trumbull16082468
Medina15309264
Greene15099244
Clark14017299
Wood13113189
Portage12890203
Allen11675232
Richland11382199
Miami10686217
Wayne8843211
Columbiana8816229
Muskingum8815133
Pickaway8582121
Marion8539135
Tuscarawas8487244
Erie7917154
Hancock6929127
Ross6858155
Ashtabula6830170
Geauga6697148
Scioto6417101
Belmont5920167
Union571048
Lawrence5560102
Jefferson5544151
Huron5439119
Darke5364123
Sandusky5359121
Seneca5290121
Athens520058
Washington5160109
Auglaize491984
Mercer480885
Shelby470093
Knox4495110
Madison436661
Putnam4287100
Fulton423969
Ashland423189
Defiance421097
Crawford3978107
Brown395057
Logan382376
Preble379898
Clinton372963
Ottawa367479
Highland355662
Williams340275
Champaign333458
Guernsey316253
Jackson312652
Perry295350
Morrow285639
Fayette282250
Hardin271464
Henry269366
Coshocton265357
Holmes2611101
Van Wert243763
Adams238552
Pike237734
Gallia235949
Wyandot231555
Hocking215462
Carroll191647
Paulding173340
Meigs144940
Noble133337
Monroe132342
Harrison108537
Morgan108523
Vinton83515
Unassigned02
Fort Wayne
Clear
37° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 37°
Angola
Clear
34° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 34°
Huntington
Clear
35° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 35°
Decatur
Clear
37° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 37°
Van Wert
Partly Cloudy
39° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 39°
Frost is likely Tuesday night as lows fall into the low to mid 30s.
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events