The shootings never stopped during the coronavirus pandemic, they just became less public, researchers say.

To some, it might have seemed as if mass shootings all but halted during the coronavirus pandemic, with a year passing between large-scale shootings in public places.

But the shootings never stopped. They just weren’t as public.

The Gun Violence Archive, which defines a mass shooting as one with four or more people injured or killed, not including the perpetrator, counted more than 600 such shootings in 2020, compared with 417 in 2019.

That carnage has continued into 2021, with at least 232 mass shootings as of May 26. (Including Wednesday’s shooting in San Jose, Calif, the archive, a nonprofit organization, has counted 15 mass murders, which it defines as four or more people killed, in 2021.)

There is little consensus on the definition of a mass shooting, complicating the efforts of nonprofits and news organizations to document the scope of the problem.

The Violence Project follows the narrow definition of the Congressional Research Service, requiring the attacks to be in public and excluding domestic shootings and those “attributable to underlying criminal activity.” CNN has defined a mass shooting as one with four or more injuries or deaths. The Washington Post’s effort to track public mass shootings includes shootings with four or more people killed, but does not include robberies or domestic shootings in private homes.

Whatever the definition, it is a persistent American problem. Some mass shootings remain unforgettable to the broader public because of the number of people killed, the attackers’ motivations, the apparent randomness or other factors — cases that often become known by a single place name like Columbine, Newtown or Parkland. But there have been many other mass killings that never receive the same level of attention.

Here is an incomplete list of shootings with multiple victims in 2021. It leaves out many more, but offers a small glimpse of the gun violence the country has already suffered this year.

People gather near a railyard in San Jose, Calif., after eight people were killed.
Noah Berger/Associated Press

Eight people were killed and others were injured in a shooting at a rail yard in San Jose, Calif., early on Wednesday, the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office said. The gunman, a transit worker, was also dead, said the authorities, who believed he had taken his own life.

Jerilee Bennett/The Gazette, via Associated Press

A man killed six people before fatally shooting himself at a birthday party at a mobile home park. Friends, family and children were gathered inside when the shooting occurred. The gunman was “a boyfriend of one of the female victims,” the police said.


A 32-year-old man killed his mother, stepfather and two police officers before fatally shooting himself at the end of a 13-hour standoff. Another officer was struck by gunfire but avoided injury because the bullet hit his Kevlar helmet.

A J Mast for The New York Times

At least eight people were killed, not including a gunman who was believed to have taken his own life after opening fire in a FedEx warehouse. Family members said that workers were unable to use their cellphones on the job, leaving them unable to confirm their safety for hours.

Sean Rayford/Associated Press

A former N.F.L. player shot and killed a doctor, the doctor’s wife and their two grandchildren inside their house, as well as two air-conditioning technicians who were working outside the home. The gunman later killed himself, the authorities said.

Jason Janik/The Dallas Morning News, via Associated Press

The authorities said two brothers killed four family members before killing themselves. The bodies were discovered after the police arrived to a home for a welfare check.

Allison Zaucha for The New York Times

A gunman opened fire at a real estate office, killing four people, including a 9-year-old boy. The shooting was most likely related to a “business and personal relationship which existed between the suspect and all of the victims,” the authorities said.

Amy Davis/The Baltimore Sun, via Associated Press

A gunman killed his parents, two people at a convenience store and then himself in a shooting spree, the police said.

Theo Stroomer for The New York Times

A gunman inside a grocery store killed 10 people, including the first police officer to arrive at the scene. The gunman was injured and taken into custody.

Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Eight people, including six women of Asian descent, were killed at three spas, at least two of which had been frequented by the gunman. The attack caused particular alarm among many Asian-Americans.

A shooting near the city’s east side left four people dead, including a 7-year-old child, and critically wounded a woman, the authorities said. The police said the shooting stemmed from a domestic problem.

Tulsa World Mike Simons/Tulsa World, via Associated Press

Five children and a man were killed and a woman was seriously injured when they were shot at a home. A brother of one of the victims was arrested at the scene. The police said they believed that the victims were related.

Five people, including a pregnant woman, were found dead inside a home after the authorities came in contact with a juvenile male, who was suffering from gunshot wounds. A day after the shooting, he was arrested.

Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune, via Associated Press

At least five people, including a 15-year-old girl, were killed in a shooting spree in the Chicago area, the police said. The gunman shot a total of seven people before he was killed by the police.