How experts define terrorism in shooting attacks

Houston police take down suspect in Weslayan shooting rampage. (KTRK)

In violent crimes with multiple victims, people often wonder and speculate whether the situations are terrorism-related, but law enforcement only uses that label for specific circumstances, according to security experts.

Houston police have not mentioned terrorism as a motive for Monday's shooting rampage in southwest Houston.

James Conway, director of Global Intel Services and a former FBI agent said looking for those links often delays investigators in answering whether or not an incident has ties to terror.

He said investigators typically go through a suspect's communications to see if there are connections to terror groups.

According to Conway, violent crimes can be "terroristic", but are only generally considered "terrorism" when they include the following components: acts of violence that target innocent people, and a shooter's motives must be ideological.

"There has to be the component of an ideology, whether it's political, social or economically," Conway said. "That's what separates an outburst of rage from (terrorism)."
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