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The shooter who killed 3 in Aberdeen, Md., was a woman. How unusual is that?

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The shooter who killed 3 in Aberdeen, Md., was a woman. How unusual is that?


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Dozens of survivors from a shooting in northeastern Maryland have been allowed out of a Rite Aid distribution center. Maryland officials said 3 people were killed Thursday morning at a shooting in Aberdeen. (Sept. 20)
AP

In many ways, Thursday’s shooting in Aberdeen, Maryland, fit the increasingly routine pattern of gun attacks at offices, malls, and schools in America.

One thing, though, was unusual: The shooter – who killed three people – was female.

That’s exceedingly rare. According to a USA TODAY analysis, just 6 percent of mass shootings (defined as shootings that kill four or more people) from 2006 to 2017 were carried out by women. A Washington Post database that tracks mass shootings dating back to 1966 shows that among 159 perpetrators, just three were female. 

Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler told a news conference Thursday that the woman had been identified as a temporary employee, Snochia Moseley of Baltimore County. It appears only one weapon was used – a 9 mm Glock handgun that was registered in Moseley’s name – and no shots were fired by responding law enforcement officers, he added.

There are two primary reasons for the gaping disparity between gun violence committed by men and women, said Laura Dugan, a professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Maryland. 

“Men, in general, are much more violent than women, and that’s been well-documented and well-recorded,” Dugan said. “With every single statistic that you can imagine, gender is the biggest predictor of violence.”

Greater male violence could be traced to a number of factors, Dugan said, such as testosterone, or the fact that women tend to be more relationship-oriented, while men are “object-oriented and focused on finishing things up.”

The second reason is that men are significantly more likely to own guns. According to a 2017 Pew study, 39 percent of men said they owned a gun, compared with 22 percent of women. Men were also more likely to have participated in gun-related activities growing up and tended to buy guns at earlier ages, the study showed. 

Dugan noted that women are more likely to own guns for self-defense purposes, while men buy guns for a variety of reasons.

In Aberdeen, the 26-year-old assailant killed three people before turning the gun on herself, say sheriff’s officers, who have not revealed a motive. Witnesses say the shooter, a temporary employee at the warehouse, had been arguing with someone before the incident. 

In 2015, Tashfeen Malik killed 14 people in San Bernardino, Calif., alongside her husband, making her the deadliest female shooter in recent decades. Other female shooters include: 

• Yvonne Hiller, 43, who opened fire on her co-workers at a Kraft Foods Factory in Philadelphia in September 2010 shortly after being suspended from her job. Hiller had been escorted from the building but returned. Two people were killed and one was wounded. Hiller exchanged gunfire with police but was eventually apprehended.

• Biology professor Amy Bishop Anderson, 44, who killed three and wounded three others after opening fire in February 2010 at a department meeting at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Anderson, who had been denied tenure at the university almost a year earlier, did not open fire until 30 minutes into the meeting. She surrendered to responding officers.

• Latina Williams, 23, who killed two fellow students in a classroom at Louisiana Technical College in Baton Rouge in February 2008. She fired six rounds, then reloaded and committed suicide before police arrived.

• Former postal worker Jennifer San Marco, 44, who opened fire in January 2006 at the Santa Barbara U.S. Postal Processing and Distribution Center in Goleta, California. She killed six before turning the gun on herself.  San Marco, who left the postal service three years before the incident, suffered from mental illness.

• In April 2001, Cathline Repunte, 36, opened fire at the Laidlaw Transit Services maintenance yard in San Jose, California, killing a fellow school bus driver. At her trial, psychiatrists said Repunte suffered from paranoid schizophrenia.

Contributing: Susan Miller, Aamer Madhani

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