Managing High-Risk Adolescents: A Case Study of the Averted Paw Paw High School Shooting and the Southaven Pier Shooting

Managing High-Risk Adolescents: A Case Study of the Averted Paw Paw High School Shooting and the Southaven Pier Shooting
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2022-10-13
Unit 1Presentation Materials: Managing High-Risk Adolescents
Unit 2Transcript: Managing High-Risk Adolescents
Unit 3Workbook: Managing High-Risk Adolescents
Unit 4Recording: Managing High-Risk Adolescents

There are ongoing processes and changes in the adolescent brain that affects their decision-making and propensity to seek pleasure, new experiences, immediate gratification, and take risks with fewer inhibitions. This combined with access to weapons and firearms makes for some potentially tragic if not nefarious outcomes. This webinar discusses managing high-risk adolescents, particularly those that become entangled in targeted violence.

Leading the discussion are Sammie Wicks and Frank Straub from the National Policing Institute. Sammie Wicks is the Senior Program Manager at the Institute’s Center for Mass Violence Response Studies and previously served as a law enforcement officer for ten years. Meanwhile, Frank Straub, PhD. is the Director of its Center for Targeted Violence Prevention who’s conducted in-depth studies of targeted mass violence events and served and led federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies for more than 30 years.

Specifics of the session included:

  • Defining targeted violence based on the act, the target, the attacker, and the location.
  • The challenges presented by school violence for the various entities that are involved in preventing and managing it.
  • The creation of the Averted School Violence Database (ASV) which focuses on averted attacks and examines the measures taken to prevent these.
  • The US Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center (USS NTAC) report that highlighted the significant involvement of adolescents in targeted violence.
  • Targeted school violence trends as it relates to where incidents happen, the typical profile and characteristics of shooters, reasons for the attack, the number of suspects, and the number and types of weapons involved.
  • A glimpse into an adolescent’s behavioral changes, neurodevelopment, and common grievances that increase the likelihood of radicalization and violence.
  • The social traits of shooters that deemed them as “ghosts” and the factors that come together for high-risk high-need adolescents.
  • A case study that presented:
    • A potential mass shooter-slash-typical teenager’s life, circumstances surrounding him, and his social and relationship dynamics.
    • The potential threat discovered in the subject’s notebook, and the steps taken by the school and local law enforcement in response to this.
    • The attempted intervention which didn’t push through because of limitations with the service providers.
    • The subject’s journal entries that revealed his deception, past violent acts, and plans.
    • The subject’s immersion in violence as seen in his choice of literature, topics of interest, mindset, and ideologies prescribed into.
    • The plot uncovered by the subject’s mother and how she took him to the local sheriff’s office which inevitably led to an arrest.
    • The offenses the subject was charged with and the final sentence he was given.
    • Measures that initially averted the planned school shooting and areas where intervention could have been done or intensified.
    • The assessments within the juvenile facility during the subject’s detention that revealed significant red flags.
    • The subject’s reentry into the community and release from court supervision.
    • The subject’s video recording that exposed his unresolved grievances and issues, remaining tendency for violence, and intention to end his life.
    • The public attack he finally managed to pull off before taking his own life.
  • The Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT): The different fields that must be included and the scope of their work, its benefits, and the different models that can be leveraged in communities.
  • The Michigan MDT model: How it was formed, its goal, its work in research and training, and the fundamental components of the model
  • Key takeaways that highlight…
    • The importance of early detection, immediate response and intervention, and continuous management and follow-up in cases of expressed violence.
    • How there is no “profile” of a school shooter and these incidents can occur anywhere.
    • How a punitive approach does not ensure desistance of violence and the benefit of a collaborative approach to holistically prevent, assess, address, and respond to the risks and needs of the individual.

Questions from the webinar attendees are about:

  • Qualitative research on preventing adolescent mass attacks.
  • Assessments that can evaluate the risk of committing violent attacks in adolescents.
  • Considerations before taking the case study’s subject off supervision.


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Resources and Handouts


Audience Comments

  • “Excellent training. Very well put together with valuable information. I would love a part two with another case study.” — Amanda
  • “Slides and the tone of the presenters 🙂 Thank you so much! Great information.” — Aida
  • “The presenters were very knowledgeable and engaging. I would like to know more about how threat assessment is being implemented in criminal justice settings.” — Allanah
  • “The presentation was very informative and can provide valuable multidisciplinary services to individuals to help prevent future tragedies.” — Chris
  • “Information about AI (initials of shooter discussed) from the case studies was one of the valuable things I learned from this webinar. I liked responding to the questions that were presented to the audience throughout the webinar and the discussions that occurred around those questions. I greatly appreciated the work that Dr. Frank Straub and Sammie Wicks have undertaken in educating and preventing adolescent violence in our country.” — ANDREW
  • “The value of multi-disciplinary teams and how early intervention was able to prevent a plan for mass act of anger-driven violence. AI needed and wanted help and was unable to access community resources. Professionally I believe that the incident post-release from Juvenile Detention could have been diverted/prevented also. Wondering if sentenced to an intensive supportive therapeutic MH setting may have been better than taking a disciplinary approach with Juvenile Detention. Excellent presentation. Thanks.” — Cheryl








About the National Policing Institute: Formerly known as the National Police Foundation, the National Policing Institute’s mission is to pursue excellence in policing through innovation and science. It is the oldest nationally-known, non-profit, non-partisan, and non-membership-driven organization dedicated to improving America’s most noble profession – policing.

The National Policing Institute has been on the cutting edge of police innovation for over 50 years since it was established by the Ford Foundation as a result of the President’s Commission on the Challenge of Crime in a Free Society (1967) and the related conclusions of the Kerner and Eisenhower Commissions, taking place during the same era.



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