A Plague of Lone Gunmen in the Age of Obama?

Straight away let’s address an issue that is very important in what follows: Eyewitness evidence is often very unreliable and hearsay evidence is often very unreliable.

Numerous biological, psychological, and sociological processes can distort both perception and its verbal translation.   There are individual differences among persons that affect their ability to accurately gather and report information, and circumstances, such as stress and alarm, can operate either alone or in conjunction with those differences to compromise the validity of witness statements.

And yet, there is no gainsaying the fact that even broken clocks are right twice a day.

Furthermore, there is very little room to contest the notion that what ends up being the MSM/government official version of events is often riddled with inaccuracies, whether those inaccuracies are attributable to underreporting, the failure to report, how matters are framed, negligence, and so on.

In short, government and media have been known to get final narratives wrong, whether intentionally or otherwise.  Clearly, a plethora of instances of this could be adduced, but doing so would be tedious.  If, at this point, you’re someone who thinks that media and government are basically fully honest, you probably aren’t very interested in evidence that they’re often not.

With the above in mind, we will considers evidence with regard to several Obama era mass shootings indicating that multiple offenders may have been involved and not single, or lone wolf, offenders, as claimed by now concretized MSM/government narratives.  This evidence, together with an accompanying probabilistic analysis, suggests that it is reasonable to suppose that at least one of the many recent official MSM/government mass public shooting narratives is, quite simply, false in terms of the number of shooters involved. 

There is a big obstacle that must be overcome by those who believe that all of the following events involved single offenders.  Even if we assign a very low likelihood to particular sets of claims about multiple offenders being true, there are now enough supposedly single offender Obama era mass public shooting cases where there is evidence of multiple offenders that the probability is uncomfortably high that at least one such mass public shooting did, in fact, involve multiple offenders.

Again, even broken clocks are right twice a day.

Let’s begin with the Isla Vista shootings.

Have a look at what eyewitness Michael Vitek had to say.

Referring to the Black BMW purportedly driven by Rodger, Vitek says: “I think there was two people inside; one of them was shooting innocent people.”

This is hardly strong evidence, to be sure, but it is evidence. 

There is also a news report from Santa Barbara which states “Multiple witnesses say they saw two people inside the suspect's vehicle, however, during the press conference, Sheriff Brown would neither confirm nor deny whether there was a passenger in the car.”

So it wasn’t just Vitek.  Could, for example, Vitek’s statement have somehow contaminated the statement of these other witnesses, and so on?  Of course, and I will address these possibilities and more when applying the probabilistic analysis.

Furthermore, a fellow nicknamed “Roger the Scanner Guy” has been keeping track of Santa Barbara law enforcement radio traffic for quite some time, and he reports on the basis of scanner traffic that:

“It sounded like 2 shooters in a vehicle a black BMW, At least one Black male driver like they were crusing through town shooting…. It sounds to me like 2 dead right off the bat, a couple critical numerous minor wounds and it's very possible both shooters are dead too on Del Playa but I cannot totally confirm anything…. It's really confusing….”

There is other, similar evidence out there on the Isla Vista shootings, but we must move on to other shootings.

In this video, Ben Swann discusses evidence that more than one shooter was involved in Sandy Hook, the Sikh Temple shootings, and the Aurora, Colorado (Batman) shootings (it’s a good idea to watch the whole video if you have the time).


Readers will have no trouble locating additional multiple shooter evidence with regard to Sandy Hook and Aurora, but before we leave this set of three cases have a look at this Sikh Temple shooting video.


The fellow seems quite earnest and speaks very matter-of-factly and unequivocally, doesn’t he, when he says, at around :09, “four white males, who were dressed darkly, uh…dressed in all black clothing, came in and opened fire on the um…on our congregation.”

Perhaps the fellow in the video was mistaken, and the four darkly dressed white males were there to help, maybe by returning a solo assailant’s fire?  Quite possibly. 

Just out of curiosity, how many MSM follow-up interviews of the fellow on the single/multiple shooter issue do you think have been done?

Turning now to the “workplace violence” mass shooting at Ft. Hood in 2009 involving Nidal Malik Hasan, we have some startling language from Sergeant Major Jamie Poston at the outset of this CNN video: “At approximately at 1:30 today we had uh…more than one shooter that fired shots into our soldier readiness processing center.”

Regarding the Navy Shipyard Shooting, the Navy Director of Public Affairs reported that two suspected shooters were pinned down.  Below the video, Red Beetle gives a link to a Yahoo News article that seems as though it may have modified (updated).  At least, it omits language that Red Beetle quotes, which states:  “D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said authorities are seeking two possible suspects who may still be at-large: a white male, wearing a tan military-style uniform carrying a handgun; and a black male, approximately 50 years old, wearing an olive military-style uniform, carrying "a long gun."”

Now to a news report from the Santa Monica shooting rampage:

As I was running down the stairs I saw one of the gunmen,” Jimes Gillespie, another witness, told the Associated Press.

He described the shooter to the AP as a white man in his 20s, wearing cornrows in his hair and black overalls. He said the man was carrying a shotgun.

Gillespie believes there were two shooters because he heard two kinds of gunfire — a shotgun and a handgun — but only saw one person, according to the Associated Press.

Speeding matters along, readers won’t have any trouble discovering that the LAX shooting, too, is linked to several reports of multiple shooters.

Before looking at things probabilistically, a bit more balance by way of reinforcing what was said at the very beginning of this piece: Nestel and Walsh have an excellent article discussing some of the many perfectly reasonable, and ordinary, explanations for “phantom” second shooter reports.

It really is a very good piece, and concentrates nicely on process-of-law-enforcement type explanations for phantom second shooter reports; e.g., law enforcement aid can be mistaken for another assailant; law enforcement’s erring on the side of caution that there might be a second shooter can morph, especially via the news, into the idea there is a second shooter, and so on (of course, it’s not clear that these would account for Vitek-type perceptions.)

I really only have one objection to Nestel and Walsh’s work: it fails to consider the issue probabilistically.

Nestel and Walsh explanations, and other sensible and ordinary explanations, might very well be considered the best explanations of reports of multiple shooters in any particular case.  The trouble for those who want to believe that the MSM/government have told the truth, with regard to the number of shooters in every mass public shooting event they now say was done by one shooter, is that we have several cases above to consider, and more that we could consider.

All that has to happen to generate grave concern about MSM/government accounts of these events is for just one witness account of multiple shooters to be true when MSM/government insists it is false. 

Now to the binomial probability distribution, which serves as a valuable aid in answering certain important questions.

For example, “with 7 mass public shooting events (those discussed above) and a probability of 95% that witness-derived data regarding a specific event is wrong about claims that more than one offender was involved, how likely is it that at least one set of witness-derived data is right, so that more than one offender really was involved -- even though there in only a 5% chance of this holding in a particular case?

The answer to this question is, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, .302. 

Thus, even if we suppose that persons get it wrong about second (or third, etc.) shooters 95% of the time, we still arrive at around a 30% chance that one of the mass public shooting events did, in fact, have multiple shooters even though MSM/government continues to insist on only one. 

If you’re willing to suppose that witness-derived data gets it right about multiple shooters 10% of the time and wrong 90% of the time, the probability that at least one Obama-era mass shooting said to have involved only one shooter in fact involved more than one rises to .522 -- around 52%, or more likely than not.

Notice that these probabilities were calculated by assuming that witnesses get it wrong very, very often; this is what adjusts for the host of causes that can produce witness error about the number of shooters.

For perspective, Dallas is 22-1 to win the NFC championship this season.

In sum, the MSM/government does not always tell the truth, and the view that they have nonetheless always told the truth about how many shooters were involved in Obama era mass public shootings may very well be wrong.[1] 

Dr. Jason Kissner is associate professor of Criminology at California State University, Fresno.  You can reach him at crimprof2010@hotmail.com.





[1] It is true that the above probability calculations assume independence, which Nestel and Walsh seem to suggest may be incorrect.  However, they offer no formal analysis in support of their assertion.  And, it is unclear that even if dependence holds across events (so that witness-sets of event B are more likely to contain erroneous reports of multiple shooters in part because witness- sets of event A did) that the effect is all that strong.  For example, did Vitek report multiple occupants in the Black BMW because of reports of multiple shooters at the Navy Yard shooting?

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