Tuesday, April 12, 2005

April's Initial Copycat Trends

As expected, there has been a rash of copycat school shooting threats and "death lists" discovered around the country since the Red Lake shooting. ABC News overviews a good summary, here. Look for more.

Meanwhile, the spillover between "rampages" was in evidence the middle of the first week of April.

Beginning at 8 a.m., on Thursday, April 7, a man went on a widely broadcast shooting spree through two states. Two people were killed and four others were wounded during the 45-minute shooting events that began in Delaware and ended in Maryland. Allison Lamont Norman, the 22-year-old alleged male shooter, like Jeff Weise in Red Lake, was wearing a bulletproof vest.

Also on April 7, Jeffrey Doyle Robertson, 45, reportedly went to the Canton, Texas (near Waco) high school just after classes started Thursday and shot football coach Gary Joe Kinne, apparently with a .45-caliber pistol. The story received widespread media attention, for a few days nationwide, such as in this article in the Baltimore Sun. After the shooting, Jeff Robertson went into the woods near the high school and attempted to kill himself by slashing his arms and stabbing his leg.

This homicidal-suicidal shooting of the football coach in Texas could be repeated in a disturbing outburst at the end of the month. With my sense that April 18-April 26 will be the next window of real danger for school shootings, I don't like the copycat effect of what this coach shooting might trigger in others. Needless to say, coaches should be careful. Unfortunately, it is a time for heightened awareness, not just for educators in the next few weeks, but especially, now for teacher-coaches in this country. The vulnerable and unstable may be triggered by this Texas incident.

Schools are already preparing for next week. Columbine High School will be closed on April 20, 2005.

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