This article first appeared in Broad & Liberty

The suspect arrested in connection with a shooting in Southwest Philadelphia on Monday night has been identified by Philadelphia Police as 40-year-old Kimbrady Watson Carriker, according to the Philadelphia Police Homicide Unit’s “White Paper” debriefing the department on the case. PPD sources confirm that Carriker was arrested on Monday evening after allegedly shooting eight and killing five people, including two children in the Kingsessing neighborhood of Southwest Philadelphia.

Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said law enforcement responded to gunfire in the vicinity of South 56th Street and Chester Avenue shortly before 8:30 p.m. Police say people called 911 to report a shooting and others flagged down officers. Police say at least 50 shots were fired at the scene and multiple vehicles were struck. Around ten minutes later, police followed and cornered the suspect in an alleyway on the 1600 block of South Frazier Street.

“Our officers were able to apprehend the male in the rear alley of 1600 Frazier Street, and when they did, this male was wearing a bulletproof vest with multiple magazines. He also had a [police] scanner, an AR-style rifle and a handgun,” Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said.

“We believe because of where he was found and where his house is on 56th Street, and the fact that we found ballistic evidence that matches the ballistic evidence we found on the street a few hours earlier, we believe this homicide is related,” Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small said.

The two injured children were taken to an area hospital where they were placed in stable condition.

This is not the first time I have covered senseless mass shootings, nor is it the first time I have written about how a rush to portray a narrative has stopped us from finding a sensible way to address this issue. There are already laws in place to prevent a mentally unstable person from getting a firearm and security measures that can be taken by communities to mitigate these concerns. But these tasks are continually lost on politicians and the media, who prefer the easier expedient of pointing  a finger at a particular group or ideology — always the wrong way to address a problem.

Normally, when a horrific active shooter incident occurs, the media is quick to pivot to a narrative of right-wing extremism, bigotry, or gun control. How this plays out will largely depend on how the narrative conflicts with Carriker’s public Facebook page, showing photos of Carriker, a transgender person, in repeated posts in support of Black Lives Matter, and the Black Lives Matter Philly Facebook page. “Black lives matter today; there will be jobs available. Equal opportunity finally. Just tell us where your quitting so we can send someone over,” Carriker wrote in one Facebook comment responding to a story of workers going on a Strike for Black Lives. The page is now locked, but screenshots here and on other news sites tell the tale.

But the suspect’s public postings are not so easy to pigeonhole. In addition to the BLM activity, Carriker also expressed support for Donald Trump and criticized Joe Biden. Perhaps instead of fitting into any left- or right-wing stereotype of a mass murderer, Carriker is just a deeply disturbed individual along multiple axes.

Outlaw said that no connection was immediately known between the victims and the shooter, and that a motive for the shooting is not yet known. Law enforcement cannot conclude, therefore, whether the active shooter incident was a result of a dangerous mental health episode, or possibly politically motivated through the suspect’s potential radicalization pursuant to the racial or trans activism exhibited in their social media activity.

While the vast majority of active shooter incidents in the past have been carried out by cisgender white males, [this] attack would mark the fifth such shooting in as many years in which a suspect identified as transgender. While this in no way is meant to portray the trans community as dangerous, the uptick in these incidents in Uvalde, Denver, Aberdeen, Nashville, and now Philadelphia may be correlated to a consistent portrayal by the media and politicians associating public debate on such issues with violence.

Preceding the Philadelphia shooting, Carriker posted to Facebook a story titled “how do you know if an evil spirit is following you,” as well as one titled “Philly anti-violence grant program shows promising results, despite some hiccups, new evaluation shows” along with one of a person holding a flintlock pistol with the text “wherefor art thou opposition so I may slide upon thine block and runneth down on thee.”

While the slogan “Silence is Violence” has regularly appeared in both trans and Black Lives Matter protests around the world, some have sounded the alarm that this ideology is a danger to free speech, which on July 4 serves as a reminder that this freedom is at the center to liberty and against oppression. However, as political talking points and media coverage on issues like the recent ruling on affirmative action and state legislation on transgender issues, it is important to keep an eye on how these political narratives may be radicalizing individuals who may be suffering from mental illness.

As a safety and risk professional, it is important to recognize that all groups have radical elements that need to be rooted out, and any violence based on racial, gender, religious, or political ideologies is a form of terrorism, a crime, and a form of radicalization that needs to be stopped immediately. This is why, in the wake of this senseless act of violence occurring on the eve of our nation’s birthday in the birthplace of America, our leaders should be finding ways to put politics aside and bring us together, so we can show each other our humanity and help those who may be suffering.