Last week's mass killing of six people at a remote dirt crossroads in California’s Mojave Desert produced a scene so grisly that Southern California TV stations blurred some of the images captured by their helicopters. It was not immediately clear how the people died or whether they had been shot. It was the fifth U.S. mass killing this year, according to a database maintained by The Associated Press and USA Today in partnership with Northeastern University. Less than a month into the new year, at least 26 people have died in those killings, defined as incidents in which four or more people died within a 24-hour period, not including the killer.
It is the second-highest number on record of mass killings to this point in a single year. Only 2023 had more, with six mass killings and 39 deaths at this point last year. The year ended with 42 mass killings and 217 deaths, making it one of the deadliest years on record. As of last wee, there had been 579 mass killings since 2006, in which 3,015 people died and 2,037 people were injured. Other mass killings this year have taken place in Joliet, Ill., Tinley Park, Ill., Richmond, Tex., and Reedley, Calif.