MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The mass shooting in Uvalde has been everywhere in the news over the past few days, but what causes mass shootings like that to happen?

Since the Texas mass shooting on Tuesday, there have been several smaller shooting incidents right here in West Virginia, including in Huntington, Charleston, and Fairmont.

12 News spoke with WVU Professor of Counseling Jeff Daniels who researches mass killings and the fatal grievance pathways that often cause them.

(Courtesy: WVU Today)

In an interview with WVU Today, Daniels explained the fatal grievance pathway and how it leads to mass-killing events.

“A majority of mass shootings are grievance-based. For example, in the workplace, someone can be passed over for a promotion and they feel it’s unfair. They try to resolve it, but it doesn’t work out. This festers. At some point, the person experiences a crisis, such as a divorce or health problem. They no longer have the ability to cope and develop a fatal grievance and fantasize how to resolve this, which could be taking out the people they feel wronged by.” 

Mental illness and a person’s background can have some effect on whether or not a person might commit a mass shooting or killing, but Daniels said those are secondary factors.

“Mental illness is a secondary issue. It’s not predictive. Less than 1% of those with mental illness will engage in violent activity. It’s even less for those who become mass killers. A child’s background and family environment are also not predictive. How many kids go to school with less-than-ideal families? They don’t become school shooters,” he said.

Daniels told 12 News weighed in on his thoughts on what parents and schools could do to help prevent these matters.

“Schools can really do things proactively to connect with students and make sure nobody is left out. Parents need to be aware of what their kids are doing. They can’t come home and veg on their cell phones all night. They have to interact with their children, they have to know what their children are up to they have to show interest in their children and do things with them.”

Daniels also added in the interview that there is no simple solution to the issue.

If you think that a school in West Virginia might be threatened, by a mass killer or something else, you can report the threat using the Safe Schools helpline.