This article examines assassins, attackers and near-lethal approachers in the United States since 1949.
This study is the first operational exploration of the thinking and behavior of all 83 persons known to have attacked, or approached to attack, a prominent public official or public figure in the United States since 1949. In addition to data about each attack or near-attack and each subject’s demographic and background characteristics, the study includes information about subjects’ ideas and actions in the days and weeks before their attacks or near-lethal approaches. The study examined questions about each subject’s movement from the idea of attack to actual attack, motives, selection of targets, planning, communication of threat and intent, symptoms of mental illness and significant life experiences. In every case, the attack or near-attack was the end result of an understandable, and often discernible, process of thinking and action. The article discusses implications for protectors, investigators and researchers. Tables, notes, references