Sunday, December 09, 2007

Church Shootings

No one who is aware of the copycat effect should be surprised by what took place this weekend in the wake of the Westroads Mall massacre in Omaha, Nebraska, where eight were killed on December 5, 2007.

I was interviewed by Columbus Dispatch reporter Amy Saunders shortly after the Omaha shootings, for her Friday, December 7, 2007, article, "Nebraska shooting raises awareness."

One insight I shared with the reporter was that the coming weekend (December 8th-9th) could be an especially dangerous time. I said this in terms of the usual timing of the cycles that happen in the wake of major media-covered shootings. She did not put that in her article. Saunders merely quoted me as saying that events similar to what happened in Omaha are becoming more common.

The only direct quotations from me that Saunders used were these: "It's not an isolated incident. In this new age of suicide, these people decide they're going to kill themselves and they want to take people with them. Unfortunately, it's a growing trend."

My sense of what would happen apparently came true again on Sunday, December 9th, with the occurrence of two more mass shooting sprees, this time twice in one state, Colorado.

One event was the shooting of four at Arvada, Colorado's Youth With a Mission Center, where two staff members died as a result. Arvada Police Chief Don Wick said the shooter escaped on foot through the snow.

Then approximately 12 hours later, another incident happened at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, 70 miles away. The Arvada missionary group said the organization had an office on the Colorado Springs campus of the New Life church. At that site, four people were shot, two churchgoers were killed, and the shooter was killed by an armed female security guard. (This seems to have been a classic "suicide by cop" scenario.)

Law enforcement authorities were not saying if there is any overlap between the two shootings Sunday evening. (In an update: Monday, December 10, there appears to be a link in the shootings that is being investigated.)

The dead shooter at Colorado Springs was described by an eyewitness as dressed in black, wearing combat boots and holding an assault rifle and at least one handgun. The shooter at Arvada was described as being a white male with black clothing, a skullcap or hat, with glasses or a beard.

These Colorado shootings, sadly, fell into the expected timing pattern seen after a major shooting.

Below, I list some other places of worship where there have been contemporary shootings. But as I have written, the copycat behavior crosses locations and the ripple effect jumps from schools to malls, from malls to churches, from schools to workplaces, from churches to fast food sites, and back and forth, during a cycle. What is certain is the copycat effect does have wildfire moments, and we are in the midst of a mini-one right now.

Other recent church shootings include the following:

Aug. 12, 2007 - Neosho, Missouri - First Congregational Church - 3 killed - Eiken Elam Saimon shot and killed the pastor and two deacons and wounded five others.

May 21, 2006 - Baton Rouge, Louisiana - The Ministry of Jesus Christ Church - 4 killed - The four at the church who were shot were members of Erica Bell's family; she was abducted and murdered elsewhere; Bell's mother, church pastor Claudia Brown, was seriously wounded - Anthony Bell, 25, was the shooter.

Feb. 26, 2006 - Detroit, Michigan - Zion Hope Missionary Baptist Church - 2 killed + shooter - Kevin L. Collins, who reportedly went to the church looking for his girlfriend, later killed himself.

March 12, 2005 - Brookfield, Wisconsin - Living Church of God - 7 killed + shooter - Terry Ratzmann opened fire on the congregation, killing seven and wounding four before taking his own life.

July 30, 2005 - College Park, Georgia - World Changers Church International - shooter killed - Air Force Staff Sgt. John Givens was shot five times by a police officer after charging the officer, following violent behavior.

Oct. 5, 2003 - Atlanta, Georgia - Turner Monumental AME Church - 2 killed + shooter - Shelia Wilson walked into the church while preparations are being made for service and shot the pastor, her mother and then herself.

June 10, 2002 - Conception, Missouri - Benedictine monastery - 2 killed + shooter - Lloyd Robert Jeffress shot four monks in the monastery killing two and wounding two, before killing himself.

March 12, 2002 - Lynbrook, New York - Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church - 2 killed - Peter Troy, a former mental patient, opens fire during Mass, killing the priest and a parishioner. He later receives a life sentence.

May 18, 2001 - Hopkinsville, Kentucky - Greater Oak Missionary Baptist Church - 2 killed - Frederick Radford stood up in the middle of a revival service and began shooting at his estranged wife, Nicole Radford, killing her and a woman trying to help her.

Sept. 15, 1999 - Fort Worth, Texas - Wedgewood Baptist Church - 7 killed + shooter - Larry Gene Ashbrook shot dead seven people and injured a further seven at a concert by Christian rock group Forty Days in Fort Worth, Texas before killing himself.

April 15, 1999 - Salt Lake City, Utah - LDS Church Family History Library - 2 killed + shooter - Sergei Babarin, 70, with a history of mental illness, entered the library, killed two people and wounded four others before he was gunned down by police.

1 comment:

Kithra said...

And here's another shooting, but this time today and from India:
Tuesday, 11 December 2007, 14:09 GMT
India boys 'shoot classmate dead'