skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 77960 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: They Shoot To Kill - A Psycho-survey of Criminal Sniping
Author(s): R Tobias
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 268
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
Paladin Press
Boulder, CO 80301
Sale Source: Paladin Press
7077 Winchester Circle
Gunbarrel Tech Center
Boulder, CO 80301
United States of America

National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Document: PDF
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This book describes 13 case histories of criminal snipers and analyzes snipers with respect to motives, methods, and mental condition.
Abstract: Between 6,000 and 8,000 sniping incidents occur yearly in the United States, and the incidence of sniping is increasing dramatically. Because of the sheer numbers of sniping incidents, most cases either go unreported or receive little attention from the press. This work documents major case histories which represent the different types of snipers and methods, including the juvenile vandal, the psychotic mass murderer, and the political terrorist. Most of the sniping incidents appear senseless, and since the criminal snipers have no particular type of personality there is no way to predict or isolate them before they act. For example, Charles Whitman, the sniper who killed 18 persons and wounded 30 from the tower on the University of Texas campus, appeared to be a stable honor student, although further investigation revealed his deep-seated hostilities and aggressiveness. Also described herein are the cases of Carmen Sherbeck and Fred Nocella, Son of Sam, and Mark Essex. The latter's case is a classic example of the hit and run sniper. Political murder, the ambush on de Gaulle, and revolutionary assassins are also discussed. It is suggested that the sniper, like any other type of criminal, exhibits patterns of behavior which must not be ignored. However, data for determining characteristics important for identifying the character or motive of the assailant are often overlooked by investigating personnel. Ways for categorizing and dealing with snipers are explored. (Author summary modified)
Index Term(s): Assassination; Behavior typologies; Psychopaths; Snipers; Sociopaths; Terrorist profiles; Weapons violations
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.