Exploring the Effects of Stressors in Threat Assessment Investigations: A Case Study on Bart Allen Ross [open pdf - 829KB]
"A threat assessment investigation may be initiated when someone comes to the attention of law enforcement for engaging in threatening or concerning behavior. Identifying stressors that have caused or could potentially cause significant negative pressure on the individual is a key part of this type of investigation. The findings of a recent study by the U.S. Secret Service that examined attacks on federal government targets highlights the importance of assessing the impact of stressors on the person's decision to engage in targeted violence. The study found that over 90% of the offenders experienced stressful events prior to carrying out their attacks. Further, over three-quarters of the offenders experienced at least one stressor in the year prior to their attacks, and over two-thirds within the six months prior. These stressors occurred in personal, health, professional, and legal contexts and covered a range of issues, from minor losses to major adverse changes. Some of the stressors identified were related to conflicts in relationships, health problems, financial hardships, work or school-related problems, arrests or convictions, and civil filings by or against the perpetrators. Using examples from the case of Bart Allen Ross, this document offers some considerations in assessing the role of stressors in conducting threat assessment investigations. Ross fatally shot U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow's husband and mother in February 2005. A case summary of Ross' life also follows."
U.S. Secret Service: http://www.secretservice.gov/