Wednesday, October 04, 2006

CTV on Predictions

CTV, Toronto, Canada

Expert predicted 'cluster' of school shootings
Updated Tue. Oct. 3 2006 11:23 PM ET
Bridget Brown, Special to
Monday's shooting makes six school shootings in the past six weeks in North America, but an expert says it's no tragic coincidence.

Loren Coleman, behavioral expert and author of Copycat Effect, predicted a continued cluster of school shootings after the Dawson College shooting on September 13. 

In a September 18 email to CTV, Coleman said, "I predict that this week or next, there may be another major 'going postal' workplace rampage or school shooting."

While Coleman's email may now seem eerily prophetic, he told his prediction two weeks ago was simply the result of observing patterns among widely-publicized events.

According to Coleman, the first shooting in the current cluster happened August 24, 2006 in Essex, Vermont.  Christopher Williams, 27, went into a school looking for his ex-girlfriend, a teacher.  He never found her, but killed another teacher, and wounded one more.  He ultimately shot himself twice in the head. [He also killed his ex-girlfriend's mother; he survived his own suicide attempt and was arrested.]

The next cluster killing happened in Hillsborough, North Carolina, six days later.  A 19-year-old man was arrested after the shooting death of his father.  Eight shots were also fired in Hillsborough's Orange High School.  Two students were wounded.

Dawson Raised Red Flag
On September 13, a third shooting occurred when 25-year-old Kimveer Gill stormed Montreal's Dawson College, and sprayed students with bullets, killing 18-year-old Anastassia De Sousa before turning the gun on himself.

Coleman immediately began pointing out similarities between that high-profile shooting and the previous two. 

According to Coleman, the size and time of the cluster can depend on the amount of media coverage.  The Dawson College shooting received a tremendous amount of attention.  When he sees an event like that, he immediately considers the possibility of more, as he indicated to CTV. 

His predictions came to life, two weeks later.

On September 27, 53-year-old drifter Duane Morrison entered a Bailey, Colorado high school. He took six female students hostage, and sexually assaulted them before killing 16-year-old Emily Keyes and killing himself.

Two days later, in Cazenovia, Wisconsin, a school principal was shot and killed.  A ninth grader has been charged with that murder.

Then, three days later came the shooting in Amish country, the deadliest of the cluster with five dead.  Coleman says violent offenders, intent on shocking the public, sometimes "compete for the highest body count."

Why Schools?
"Disturbed individuals choose schools because that's the pattern put in front of them, either by reading about it or hearing about it," says Coleman, "it's a location of opportunity.  [Charles Carl Roberts] lived a mile away, he delivered milk there.  It had nothing to do with any hatred of the Amish."

Coleman says most people who encounter adversity will turn to friends, or look for someone to talk to, like a minister.  But because school shooters don't have an outlet for their problems, they mimic a school shooting they see on television as an outlet for their self-hatred.  And the similarities between the perpetrators are significant.

"One hundred percent of these people are suicidal. One hundred percent of these people are male. Most of them are Caucasian. They're outsiders.  They almost always target the same group, authority figures and girls. If you pull suicide so far inward, it turns to homicide."

Coleman says school shootings occurred as early as the 1970s, but the last significant cluster involved the now historic Columbine High School shootings in Littleton, Colorado, followed by a school shooting in Taber, Alberta, only a week later.

Coleman hopes we've seen the last school shooting, but says it would not surprise him to see more this fall. He says that while the Pennsylvania shootings may not be the last in this cluster, the copycat crimes will likely slow down as we near winter. He says spring, and the anniversary of Columbine, could be enough to spark another cycle of tragedy.

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