Examining mass shootings from a neighborhood perspective: An analysis of multiple-casualty events and media reporting in Philadelphia, United States

Jessica H. Beard, Sara F. Jacoby, Richard James, Beidi Dong, Mark J. Seamon, Zoë Maher, Amy J. Goldberg, Christopher N. Morrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Identifying the people and places affected by mass shootings depends on how “mass shooting” is defined. From the perspective of urban neighborhoods, it is likely the number of people injured within a proximate time and space, which determines the event's impact on perceptions of safety and social cohesion. We aimed to describe the incidence of “neighborhood” mass shootings in one US city and to determine how these events were communicated to the public through news media. This mixed-methods study analyzed Philadelphia, Pennsylvania police data from 2006 to 2015. Using rolling temporal and distance buffers, we isolated shooting events involving multiple victims within a defined time period and geography. Selecting a definition of neighborhood mass shooting consistent with other common mass shooting definitions in which ≥4 victims were shot within 1 h and 100 m, we identified 46 events involving 212 victims over 10 years. We then searched public news media databases and used directed content analysis to describe the range and headline content from reports associated with the 46 events. Neighborhood mass shooting victims were more likely to be younger and female compared to other firearm-injured individuals (p < 0.001). Seven (15%) events received no news media attention, and 30 (77%) of the 39 reported events were covered solely in local/regional news. Only one event was named a “mass shooting” in any associated headline. In Philadelphia, neighborhood mass shootings occur multiple times per year but receive limited media coverage. The population health impact of these events is likely under-appreciated by the public and policymakers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105856
Number of pages7
JournalPreventive Medicine
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


  • Firearm violence
  • Mass shooting
  • Media

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