Fred Burton Interviewed by The Houston Chronicle on Mass Shootings

Still, identifying people who may commit mass murders is a challenge, said Fred Burton, a former counter-terrorism agent with the U.S. State Department. Police are good at reacting as first responders, but identifying and investigating people who are planning mass shootings is a different kind of science and requires more resources, he said.

“You are in many ways looking for needles in haystacks and at times you can’t find that needle until after the incident, it’s sad to say,” said Burton, vice president of intelligence at Stratfor, a security and intelligence firm based in Austin.

It often takes a citizen or family member to report suspicious activity for law enforcement to intervene before an attack takes place, and authorities need a process to triage that information, he said.