In the wake of the Col­orado movie the­ater shoot­ings — with a 24-​​year-​​old gunman allegedly opening fire during a screening of the Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises, leaving many dead and wounded — many Amer­i­cans may wonder whether a shooter can be spotted before they commit a vio­lent act.

Are there signs, symp­toms, a pro­file? Can par­ents safe­guard their chil­dren from these people — or be sure their child is not devel­oping into one?

WebMD turned to Jack Levin, PhD, the Irving and Betty Brud­nick Pro­fessor of Soci­ology and Crim­i­nology at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity in Boston. He has written numerous books on vio­lence, including Serial Killers and Sadistic Mur­derers — Up Close and Per­sonal, and Extreme Killing: Under­standing Serial and Mass Murder.

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