A Tale From Down Under: Targeted Violence Mitigated with International Support

Dr Karie Gibson1, Crime Analyst Jennifer Tillman1, Detective Blake Horder2
1FBI-BAU, Quantico, USA, 2South Australia Police, Adelaide, Australia

In early November 2017 information received by South Australia Police indicated two males (18 yo and 16 yo) were planning to carry out a ‘Columbine style’ attack and subsequent suicide at the Renmark High School (HS) within a few weeks. Both were students at the school in a Flexible Learning Program. At the time of the alleged threat, Renmark HS had 524 students. Renmark is a small agricultural Riverland community of about 10,000 people situated roughly 3 hours north east of South Australia’s capital – Adelaide. Police were made aware of the threats after a student became concerned and informed their parents; subsequently, both males were taken into custody on serious charges. Searches conducted by police revealed journals and diaries in which one had written about committing a mass shooting ‘to be bigger than Columbine, Sandy Hook, Boston Marathon and the Norway Massacre combined’. Social media messages between the suspects were located on mobile phones detailing conversations about committing a school shooting. Additional conversations were found where one suspect was attempting to source firearms for the purpose of committing the shooting. In September 2018, South Australia Police requested FBI-BAU assistance in the prosecution of these two males by reviewing case materials and conducting an investigative analysis. Specifically, The FBI-BAU reviewed the evidence and demonstrated several key points from Making Prevention a Reality: Identifying, Assessing, and Managing the Threat of Targeted Attacks. Both suspects pled guilty and an act of targeted violence was prevented. This presentation will focus on how the suspects were on the pathway to commit an act of targeted violence, where they considered, planned, and prepared to resolve their grievances through violence. This was not a fantasy but rather a high concern case requiring containment and ongoing threat management.


Dr. Karie Gibson has been a Special Agent for the FBI for thirteen years and currently serves as a Supervisory Special Agent with the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit-1 (BAU-1), Behavioral Threat Assessment Center (BTAC) where she is responsible for providing behaviorally based operational support and training to federal, state, local, tribal, and international law enforcement agencies.  In providing operational support for both BTAC and counterterrorism cases, Dr. Gibson completes threat assessments, threat management strategies, statement analysis, interview and interrogation strategies, prosecutorial strategies, and unknown offender profiles. Prior to becoming an agent with the FBI, Dr. Gibson was and continues to be a licensed clinical psychologist.

Detective Horder has served in the South Australia Police for 17 years.  He currently a specialist homicide Detective at the Major Crime Investigation Branch, where he has been stationed since 2013.  In his current role, Detective Horder oversees and provides statewide specialist consultation to other Criminal Investigation Branches on matters such as homicide, police involved death in custody, police shootings, coronial matters and solicit/conspiracy to murder investigations.  His current role also includes leading taskforces for complex homicide investigations, cold case homicide and significant public interest investigations.

As a Crime Analyst assigned to the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit-1 (BAU-1), Behavioral Threat Assessment Center, CA Tillman works closely with Supervisory Special Agents on person of concern cases involving threat assessment and threat management strategies. She provides detailed analytical packages consisting of association charts, maps, matrices, timelines and other database search results to investigators and prosecutors alike.  Due to the impressive caliber of these products, CA Tillman has testified during grand jury proceedings, preliminary hearings and trials.

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