Clarification: This article was updated. Police initially misgendered the shooter, who they later said identified as a transgender man.
Female mass shooters are an infrequent occurrence.
How rare? More than 98% of mass shootings have been committed by men, according to The Violence Project. This nonpartisan research group tracks U.S. mass shooting data dating back more than a half-century.
On Monday, a 28-year-old gunman opened fire and fatally shot three students and three staff members at a small private Christian elementary school in Nashville, authorities said. Police identified the attacker as Audrey Elizabeth Hale, 28, a transgender man who was assigned female at birth.
"The shooting today is a stark reminder that mass shootings are not exclusive to men," The Violence Project, a nonprofit, said in a statement. "However, if we look specifically at K-12 school shooting cases in our database, the perpetrators were 100% male. Most were current or former students of the schools they targeted."
When have women shooters killed before?
It was initially thought that Hale was the first female school shooter to h killed four or more people, the project said Monday, although it said there have been instances of women and girls firing guns at schools before. This includes a shooting at Grover Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego in 1979.
Since 2013, there have been 101 incidents where there was a female shooter out of 4,025 mass shootings, said Mark Bryant, executive director of the Gun Violence Archive.
One notable mass shooting involving a female suspect occurred in San Bernardino, California, in 2015 that left 14 people dead and nearly two dozen wounded.
How many shootings are there in the US in 2023?
Monday's incident in Nashville is the 130th mass shooting in the United States in 2023, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The archive defines a mass shooting as one in which at least four people are shot, excluding the shooter.
The United States is currently ahead of last year's pace, which saw the 100th mass shooting on March 19, 2022, the archive reports.
Nashville school mass shooting updates: Authorities: 3 children, 3 adults dead after woman opens fire in Nashville covenant school
Are mass shootings relative?: Do mass shootings cause more mass shootings? Research is divided.
How many people die from mass shootings?
There are shootings every day in the United States and about 20,000 people have been fatally shot each year since 2020, the archive reports. About another 20,000 have died by firearm suicide, the archive adds.
Why do so many men commit mass shootings?
Men are more motivated and prone to engaging in violence, which also applies to mass shootings, said Adam Lankford, a criminal justice professor at the University of Alabama. Lankford said men involved in those types of shootings "are usually due to an unhealthy amount of their self-worth to status and so in many cases, men and boys are killing to achieve status or to defend their status."
But mass shootings involving women are outright scarce, Lankford said.
What did the shooter in Nashville do?
Metropolitan Nashville Police Chief John Drake said the shooter was a former student who forced his way into the school and was armed with three firearms. Drake said the shooting was targeted.
Mass shootings are often driven by despair and they are a form of suicide, the Violence Project said Monday.
"Like in this case, the majority of mass shooters die on the scene," the project said. "Perpetrators often pick a target that represents their grievance, and they want to communicate their anger to the world with a final act of horrific violence."
Most school shootings happen in public schools
The project said most school mass shootings take place at large, suburban, public high schools. It is "rare" for a shooting to take place at a small, Christian private school.
"At this time, we know very little about the perpetrator of the shooting at Covenant School," the project said. It said its research into the life histories of school mass shooters has uncovered a common pathway to violence which includes:
73% of school mass shooters had a known history of childhood trauma;
85% showed signs of a crisis in the days and weeks leading up to the shooting;
92% were suicidal prior to the shooting or committed suicide during the shooting.
93% communicated their plans ahead of time (most commonly to a classmate)
86% showed a high degree of planning before the shooting
64% showed an interest in previous mass shootings and studied them
The most common way for a school mass shooter to obtain a firearm was to take it from a family or friend (58%) who didn’t store it securely, the archive said.
There are comparatively few shootings at private schools, said David Riedman, lead researcher for the K-12 School Shooting Database. But that's largely because there aren't as many private schools as there are public schools in the United States, he said.
Drake, the Nashville police chief, said authorities have found writings indicating a motive and had drawn detailed maps of the school. Drake said he believes the shooter gained entry into the school by shooting through one of the doors.
"We have some writings that we're going over that pertain to this date," said Drake at a Monday afternoon press conference. "We have a map drawn out of how this was all gonna take place."
Contributing: Jayme Fraser and Kevin Johnson USA TODAY
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: How often are women mass shooters? Very rare.