In the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, Congress redefined “mass killings” as “three or more killings in a single incident.” Prior to Sandy Hook, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defined a mass murderer as someone who “kills four or more people in a single incident,” excluding the perpetrator.
Though there is no clear legal definition for the term “mass shooting,” the incidents have occurred at consistently high rates for decades. Mass shootings are now occurring nearly every day in the U.S., documenting gun violence statistics has become a priority for governments and law enforcement across the nation.
The following overview outlines the most violent and often deadliest mass shootings from 2018, by defining a mass shooting as four or more people being shot or injured by gunfire in a single incident.
#1 Parkland, Florida
Number of victims killed: 17
|Alyssa Alhadeff||Nicholas Dworet||Chris Hixon||Gina Montalto||Meadow Pollack||Carmen Schentrup|
|Scott Beigel||Aaron Feis||Luke Hoyer||Joaquin Oliver||Helena Ramsay||Peter Wang|
|Martin Duque||Jaime Guttenberg||Cara Loughran||Alaina Petty||Alex Schachter|
On Valentine’s Day, 2018, a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The damage was devastating: 17 students and staff members were killed and 17 others were injured. This incident was both the largest and the deadliest mass shooting in 2018. The Parkland shooting is also the deadliest high school shooting in American history.
#2 Thousand Oaks, California
Number of victims killed: 12
|Cody Gifford-Coffman||Telemachus Orfanos||Justin Meek||Sean Adler||Sgt. Ron Helus||Alaina Housley||Ian David Long (gunman)|
|Daniel Manrique||Blake Dingman||Noel Sparks||Kristina Morisette||Jake Dunham||Mark Meza Jr.|
On November 7, 2018, a gunman terrorized Borderline Bar & Grill, a popular haunt for college students in SoCal. The gunman first killed the bouncer at the country-western bar before continuing to shower bullets into the crowd. His rampage resulted in the death of 13 patrons, and two others were injured.
#3 Santa Fe, Texas
Number of victims killed: 10
|Aaron Kyle McLeod||Angelique Ramirez||Kimberly Vaughan||Cynthia Tisdale||Sabika Sheikh|
|Chris Stone||Jared Black||Shana Fisher||Glenda Ann Perkins||Christian Riley Garcia|
On May 18, 2018, at 7:40 am, a single gunman opened fire at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, resulting in the death of eight students and two teachers, with 13 others were injured. The suspected killer was taken into custody; he was detained by local authorities and is currently facing capital murder charges.
#4 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Number of victims killed: 11
|Irving Younger||Melvin Wax||Rose Mallinger||Bernice Simon||Sylvan Simon||Jerry Rabinowitz|
|Joyce Fienberg||Richard Gottfried||Daniel Stein||Cecil Rosenthal||David Rosenthal|
On October 27, 2018, a gunman walked into the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, armed with an AR-15 and at least three handguns, and opened fire. The act of domestic terror claimed 11 victims and seven others were injured. The suspect was shot on the scene and was hospitalized. Now in custody, the gunman is faces 22 charges that each, individually make him eligible for the death penalty.
#5 Benton, Kentucky
Number of victims killed: 2
|Bailey Nicole Holt||Preston Ryan Cope|
On January 23, 2018, a single gunman opened fire at Marshall County High School. Two students, Bailey Holt and Preston Cope, both aged 15, were killed in the shooting. The number of victims cited as injured varies from source to source, but the most common number of injuries reported totals 18.
#6 Trenton, New Jersey
Number of victims killed: 1
On June 17, 2018, a tumultuous 24-hour art and music festival in Trenton, New Jersey, was on the verge of shutting down after several fights broke out. But before police could contain the situation, gunfire erupted. Police believe multiple gunmen sprayed gunfire into the festival crowd, injuring 22 people and killing one. Police suspect the incident was gang-related.
#7 Bakersfield, California
Number of victims killed: 6
|Antonio Valadez||Manuel Contreras||Eliseo Garcia Cazares|
|Laura Garcia||Petra Maribel Bolanos De Casarez||Javier Casarez (gunman)|
On September 12, 2018, a gunman walked into a trucking business with his wife to confront another man. Once inside the business, the suspect shot both his wife, and the man they confronted. The shooting spree continued when the gunman fled the scene and terrorized at least four other locations, killing three others before turning the gun and killing himself. Though the gunman carjacked a woman and her child during the incident, the two escaped without injury, and no other reports of injuries were documented.
#8 Orlando, Florida
Number of victims killed: 5
|Unnamed minor age 1||Unnamed minor age 6||Unnamed minor age 10||Unnamed minor age 11||Gary Wayne Lindsey Jr. (gunman)|
After a domestic dispute on June 11, 2018, a man held four children — ranging in age from 1 to 11 — hostage in an apartment near Universal Orlando. Once police arrive on the scene, the suspect opened gunfire, seriously injuring one of the responding officers. Nearly 24 hours after the standoff started, SWAT officers were finally able to enter the apartment. Upon entrance, police found the bodies of the four children being held hostage and the gunman, who died after shooting himself.
#9 Ponder, Texas
Number of victims killed: 5
|Unnamed minor age 4||Unnamed minor age 6||Unnamed minor age 8||Seth Richardson||Justin Painter (gunman)|
On May 16, 2018, a man entered his ex-wife’s’ home and abruptly opened fire. During his reign of terror, the gunman killed his three children, his former wife’s boyfriend, and then himself. The mother of the children (the gunman’s ex-wife) survived the shooting, but was injured during the chaos.
#10 Jacksonville, Florida
Number of victims killed: 3
|Elijah Clayton||Taylor Robertson||David Katz (gunman)|
On August 26, 2018, during a Madden 19 video game tournament hosted in downtown Jacksonville, Florida, a gunman went on a shooting rampage. The lone shooter, who was reportedly frustrated by his performance during the tournament, killed three people — including himself — and injured nine others.
Worst Mass Shootings of 2019, So Far
At nearly nine months into 2019, gun violence continues to be pervasive. The five worst mass shootings so far in 2019, three of which are of a magnitude to the Parkland shooting — the deadliest mass shooting of 2018 — are:
- El Paso, Texas | Number of victims killed: 22 | Number of victims injured: 24
- Dayton, Ohio | Number of victims killed: 10 | Number of victims injured: 17
- Virginia Beach, Virginia | Number of victims killed: 13 | Number of victims injured: 4
- Aurora, Illinois | Number of victims killed: 6 | Number of victims injured: 6
- Gilroy, California | Number of victims killed: 4 | Number of victims injured: 13
We used the information found at the Gun Violence Archive to determine the largest mass shootings in the U.S. for 2018, and the beginning of 2019. We applied both the number of people killed as well as injured to our analysis to capture the most severe mass shootings. We weighed the number of deaths 20 percent heavier than injuries, then added both figures together to rank each incident. *We’ve adjusted inputs from the Gun Violence Archive repository if outside data confirmed more accurate information. Specifically,
- Trenton, New Jersey GVA reported 19 injured, there were 22.
- Benton, Kentucky GVA reported 14 injured, there were 18.
Review 2017’s mass shooting statistics, based on GVA data: