School Shooters: Who Are They and How Can They Be Identified?
School Shooters: The Dynamics of Violence Peter Langman, Ph.D. www.schoolshooters.info Language Warning: Profanity and Violence Killing Up Close As men draw this near [to their
enemies] it becomes extremely difficult to deny their humanity. Looking in a mans face, seeing his eyes and his fear, eliminate denial [of their humanity]. At this range the interpersonal nature of the killing has shifted. Instead of shooting at a uniform and killing a generalized enemy, now the killer must shoot at a person and kill a specific individual. Most simply cannot or will not do it.
Not Ordinary Kids These are not ordinary kids who were bullied into retaliation. These are not ordinary kids who played too many video games. These are not ordinary kids who just wanted to be famous. These are simply not ordinary kids. These are kids with serious psychological problems. Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of
School Shooters Misconception The assumption that we can talk about school shooters as if they are the same. There is no profile. They are not all young or white or male or bullied or loners. They typically do not target bullies.
The Diversity of Shooters Different types of shooters commit different types of attacks for different reasons. Beyond the Stereotype Categories of Shooters Without a system, making sense of school shooters is
overwhelming Dividing them into categories allows patterns to emerge Populations Attack Types Psychological Types Populations Secondary school shooters Current/recent secondary school students
College shooters Current/recent college students or employees Aberrant adult shooters No current/recent connections to schools Attack Types Random No specific victims Targeted
Specific individuals known to the perpetrator Mixed At least one specific victim plus random victims Random vs. Targeted Attacks Targeted attacks Actual conflicts with people or
institutions Real or perceived injustices Smaller scale, less planning Random attacks Less connection to the institutions attacked Symbolic acts based internal dynamics Greater magnitude, more planning Psychological Types
Psychopathic Shooters Extreme narcissism Reject morality Lack of empathy, guilt, remorse Sadistic Impression management Feel like the victim: nothing is their fault Entitled and easily enraged Eric Harris
Columbine H.S. Littleton, Colorado April 20, 1999 Age 18 Killed: 8 Wounded: 13 Psychopathic Eric Harris: Extreme Narcissism Ich bin Gott (German: I am
God) I feel like God and I wish I was, having everyone being OFFICIALLY lower than me. My belief is that if I say something, it goes. I am the law, if you dont like it, you die. Eric Harris: Rejection of Morality Morals is just another word.
I really dont give a good god damn about what you think is right and what is wrong. Theres no such thing as True Good or True evil. Eric Harris: Lack of Empathy NATURAL SELECTION. Kill all retards. . . People spend millions of dollars on saving the lives of retards, and why. I
dont buy that shit like oh, hes my son, though! so the fuck what, he aint normal, kill him. Put him out of his misery. He is only a waste of time and money. Eric Harris: Sadistic I want to tear a throat out with my own teeth like a pop can. I want to gut someone with my hand, to tear a head off and rip out the heart and lungs from the
neck, to stab someone in the gut, shove it up to their heart, and yank the fucking blade out of their rib cage! I want to grab some weak little freshman and just tear them apart like a wolf, show them who is god. Strangle them, squish their head, bite their temples in the skull, rip off their jaw, rip off their collar bones, break their arms in half and twist them around, the lovely sounds of bones cracking and flesh
Eric Harris: Impression Management If [I] have to cheat and lie to everyone then thats fine. . . I have confidence in my ability to deceive people. "I could convince them that I'm going to climb Mount Everest, or I have a twin brother growing out of my back. I can make you believe anything. Eric Harris: Impression
Management Apology letter to owner of van he robbed: I strongly feel I owe you an apology and explanation. . . I am truly sorry for what I have done. Teachers reaction to Erics essay about his arrest: Its not one action that makes a person. I would trust you in a heartbeat.
Eric Harris: Journal entry Isnt America supposed to be the land of the free? How come, if Im free, I cant deprive a stupid fucking dumbshit from his possessions if he leaves them sitting in the front seat of his fucking van out in plain sight and in the middle of fucking nowhere on a Frifuckingday night. NATURAL
SELECTION. Fucker should be shot. Eric Harris: Impression Management Parent of a friend The ultimate little gentleman. Teacher comments Positive attitude and good cooperation. Strong interest and participation. Eric is doing awesome!
Probation officer (early termination, 2/3/99) Really nice young man. Seems responsible and remorseful. . . Prognosis: Good. Eric is a very bright young man who is likely to succeed in life. Psychotic Shooters Hallucinations Delusions Disorganized speech, writing, behavior
Impaired social/emotional functioning Profound alienation Envied more successful peers Kip Kinkel Thurston High School Springfield, Oregon May 20-21, 1998 Age 15
Killed: 4 Wounded: 25 Psychotic Kip Kinkel: Psychosis Hallucinations Heard 3 voices starting at age 12 Paranoid delusions Prepared for invasion by China Thought government might have
put computer chip in his brain Kip Kinkel: Psychotic I dont know who I am. . . I hate myself for what Ive become. . . I am repulsive. . . My eyes hurt. They hurt so bad. They feel like they are trying to crawl out of my head. Why arent I normal? Kip Kinkel: Psychotic
I am so full of rage that I feel I could snap at any moment. . . I sound so pitiful. People would laugh at this if they read it. I hate being laughed at. But they wont laugh after theyre scraping parts of their parents, sisters, brothers, and friends from the wall of my hate. . . Please. Someone, help me. . . Oh God, I am so close to killing people.
Kip Kinkel: Psychotic I have just killed my parents! . . . Im so sorry. I am a horrible son. I wish I had been aborted. I destroy everything I touch. . . My head just doesnt work right. God damn these VOICES inside my head. I want to die. I want to be gone. But I have to kill people. I dont know why. I am so sorry! Why did God do this to me?
Red Lake, Minnesota March 21, 2005 Age 16 Killed: 9 Wounded: 7 Traumatized Jeffrey Weise: Traumatized My mom used to abuse me a lot when I was little. She would hit me
with anything she could get her hands on, she used to drink excessively, too. She would tell me I was a mistake, and she would say so many things that its hard to deal with them or think of them without crying. Jeffrey Weise: Traumatized So fucking nave man, so fucking nave. Always expecting change when I know nothing ever changes. Ive seen mothers
choose their man over their own flesh and blood. Ive seen others choose alcohol over friendship. I sacrifice no more for others, part of me has fucking died and I hate this shit. Im living every mans nightmare and that single fact is kicking my ass. I really must be fucking worthless. This place never changes, it never will. Fuck it all. Jeffrey Weise: Traumatized
Most people have never dealt with people who have faced the kind of pain that makes you physically sick at times, makes you so depressed you cant function, makes you so sad and overwhelmed with grief that eating a bullet or sticking your head in a noose seems welcoming. Jeffrey Weise: Traumatized
I had went through a lot of things in my life that had driven me to a darker path than most choose to take. I split the flesh on my wrist with a box opener, painting the floor of my bedroom with blood I shouldnt have spilt. After sitting there for what seemed like hours (which apparently was only minutes), I had the revelation that this was not the path. Jeffrey Weise:
Traumatized 16 years of accumulated rage suppressed by nothing more than brief glimpses of hope, which have all but faded to black. I can feel the urges within slipping through the cracks, the leash I can no longer hold. Multi-determined Violence Most people who are
psychopathic, psychotic, or traumatized never kill anyone Many factors come together to cause rampage attacks Biology Damaged Masculinity Damaged Identity/Masculinity
Biological challenges Sickly children, developmental delays, birth defects, fear of sterility, unusually short Smallest, weakest, most disempowered people may be most likely to use guns for power Eric Harris: Body-Related Issues
Chest deformity: surgery at ages 12 and 13 Teased for having a big head on a skinny body I have always hated how I looked. . . Thats where a lot of my hate grows from. The fact that I have practically no self-esteem, especially concerning girls and looks and such. how fucking weak I am
Eric Harris Drawing Eric Harris: Seeking Status Itll be very fucking hard to hold out until April. If people would give me more compliments all of this might still be avoidable. Maybe I just need to get laid. Maybe thatll just change some shit around. I would love to be the ultimate
judge and say if a person lives or dies be godlike. Elliot Rodger University of California at Santa Barbara Isla Vista, CA May 23, 2014 Age 22 Killed: 6
Wounded: 14 Psychopathic/ Psychotic Elliot Rodger: Inferiority I was the shortest kid in my class even the girls were taller than me. . . It instilled the first feelings of inferiority in me. I was physically weak compared to other boys my age. Even boys
younger than me were stronger. This vexed me to no end. Elliot Rodger: Inferiority It made me feel like an insignificant, unworthy little mouse. I felt so small and vulnerable. I couldnt believe that this girl was so horrible to me, and I thought that it was because she viewed me as a loser. Turning 21 as a kissless virgin was
indeed a dark day. How pathetic it was, to be 21 and still a virgin while kids were having sex at the age of 14? Elliot Rodger: Sadism as Justice I have lived a life of pain and suffering, and it was time to bring that pain to people who actually deserve it. I will cut them, flay them, strip all the skin off their flesh, and pour boiling
water all over them while they are still alive, as well as any other form of torture I could possibly think of. When they are dead, I will behead them and keep their heads in a bag. Elliot Rodger: Self-Elevation Once they see all of their friends heads roll onto the street, everyone will fear me as the powerful god I am. . . Then we shall see who the
superior one really is! You will finally see that I am in truth the superior one. The true alpha male. Sadism = Self-Elevation He is sadistic because he feels impotent, unalive, and powerless. He tries to compensate for this lack by having power over others, transforming the worm he feels himself to be into a god.
Erich Fromm Eric Harris: weird-looking Eric KID god-hood Elliot Rodger: kissless virgin/loser alpha male Guns Enhance Status/Power I guess for so long Id felt helpless and weak, and with violence, you know, you have control. Jamie Rouse, traumatized What was I thinking? I was carrying
a gun. I guess it made me feel big and powerful. Nathaniel Brazill, traumatized More guns is better. You have more power. Guns Enhance Status/Power WehaveGUNS! . . I feel more confident, stronger, more God-like.
Eric Harris, psychopathic Guns make every person equal. Gang Lu, psychopathic I have the power to bring the whole school down to its knees. Wayne Lo, psychopathic Guns Enhance Status/Power
Why does society applaud jocks? . . And the preps are no better. I love guns I really do. The great equalizer, wouldn't you say? Kimveer Gill, psychotic After I picked up the handgun, I brought it back to my room and felt a new sense of power. I was now armed. Whos the alpha male now, bitches? Elliot Rodger, psychotic/psychopathic
Social Setbacks, Failures, Frustrations Precipitating Events Educational issues Academic failures/disciplinary problems Romantic failures Legal trouble Conflicts with peers
Loss of potential future Thwarted military aspirations Revenge for Discipline Michael Slobodian: intended to kill two teachers who reported his cutting class; killed one. Evan Ramsey: 17 disciplinary infractions in 18 months before attack; he killed the principal. Jason Hoffman: sought revenge against
dean due to discipline, failure to graduate. Eric Hainstock: suspensions shortly before his attack; he killed the principal. Revenge for Failures Eric Houston: killed teacher who failed him (and molested him), prevented him from graduating. Gary Scott Pennington: killed a teacher who gave him an unacceptably
low grade on a midterm. Asa Coon: in danger of failing class; shot teacher. Robert Steinhuser: angry with both faculty and administrators; repeated academic failures, twice failed 12th Romantic Failures Charles Whitman beat and later murdered his wife. Robert Poulin raped and killed a girl he
had a crush on who was dating someone else. Laurie Dann tried to kill her exhusband. Marc Lpine struggled with relationships and targeted women in his attack. Barry Loukaitis killed the boy who was Romantic Failures Andrew Golden shot ex-girlfriend. Mitchell Johnson shot ex-girlfriend.
Michael Carneal shot a girl he had a crush on and a girl who rejected him. Tim Kretschmer targeted women, including one who had recently rejected him. T.J. Lane killed the boy who was dating his ex-girlfriend. # of Shooters Who Targeted Victims (out of 48 shooters)
20 18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0
Bully Rival Family Females Staff
External Influences Role models and ideologies Hitler, Manson, serial killers, mass murderers, school shooters (Eric Harris) Nazism, Satanism, magic/occult, misogyny, white supremacy Copycat/Fame-seeking Peer encouragement
Violence as Self-Enhancement Chris Harper-Mercer re: Vester Flanagan So many people like him are all alone and unknown, yet when they spill a little blood, the whole world knows who they are. A man who was known by no one, is now known by everyone. His face splashed across every screen, his name across the lips of every person on the planet, all in the course of one day. Seems the more people you kill, the
more youre in the limelight. August 31, 2015 Combined Influences Combination of who they are and what happens to them Biological Body-related issues/damag ed
masculinity Psychological Psychopathic Psychotic Traumatized Social Setbacks, failures, rejections,
stresses External influences Role models Ideologies Fame-seeking Peer encouragement The End
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