It has happened again, the Movie Massacre in Aurora has demonstrated the degree of savagery one human can and will extract on other innocent humans. I have heard that in the chronicles of American History this horrifying incident ranks as the 9th worse attack, nevertheless, it is seared in our collective conscious. Our heartfelt condolences go out the families and friends who are mourning their loved ones lost early Friday morning.
We hope that one day, we as a society, will realize that type of violence is part of a definable, credible and forensic process of escalation called the Critical Aggression Prevention System (CAPS). When we as a society come to this realization, it may offer us the opportunity to get out in front of an incident and prevent it.
More information will come trickling out over the next days, weeks and months, let us confirm that the images and behaviors are consistent with CAPS. If training were available and software service in place, could we have identified James Holmes before this horrific shooting? We, of course, speculate; after all, this is a hypothetical exercise. Yet, in those cases where much has been studied, (Fort Hood, Virginia Tech and Columbine High School shootings) we repeatedly see the requisite behavior, body language and communication indicators that would have defined these individuals as escalating aggressors requiring a Judicious Interview at minimum and likely a full scale aggression evaluation.
Is it possible that while attending the University of Colorado at the Anschutz Medical Campus, James Holmes may have come on their Behavioral Intervention Team’s radar? Aurora Police Chief Daniel Oates, who I understand also has a law degree, will be very cautious about releasing information so as not to obstruct his case. Let’s watch together and see if the signs of emerging aggression were there for all to see, but no one knew what to look for, what to report and whom to report it too.
I will include our graphic illustrating the Primal and Cognitive Aggression Continua for reference: