Friday, April 17, 2009

Killers Pick Special Dates

The Canadian media continue their balanced and insightful approach to examining various factors in multiple homicidal-suicidal events.

School Shootings
Killers often pick special dates for their attack

They 'compete' for high body count, expert says

Apr 17, 2009 04:30 AM

by Trish Crawford, Toronto Star

This year, April 20 – Hitler's birthday – will mark the 10th anniversary of the Columbine school killings.

And, psychiatric social worker Loren Coleman is worried, because mass killers often choose special dates and anniversaries for their carnage. The killers at Columbine did, by picking the birthday of one of history's monsters.

The author of The Copycat Effect (Simon & Schuster) says the amount of attention this anniversary gets may determine whether any other disaffected males bent on vengeance pick April 20 for their act of destruction.

"Anniversaries can be dangerous," Coleman says. "These individuals compete with each other."

From the 14 deaths at Montreal's 1989 École Polytechnique to Columbine's 1999 death toll of 13 and Virginia Tech's all-time record of 32 deaths, the numbers of fatalities climb as shooters learn from each other, says Coleman, a former university professor and senior researcher at the Muskie School of Public Service in Maine.

Creating a high body count is the goal of these killers, he points out.

Chaining doors to prevent escape or rescue, carrying large amounts of back up ammunition and bringing ties and ropes to restrain victims are all refinements added over time as publicity over school killings reaches angry, disenfranchised males, Coleman says.

In the wake of the recent rampage in Winnenden, Germany, which saw a former student return to his school and kill 12 people there, Coleman called schools "a fish bowl setting with a vulnerable population."

Even people with no connection to a school, such as Pennsylvannia truck driver Charles Roberts, who killed five Amish school girls in October 2006, have picked a school as a site of easy victims. The week before, six female students had been taken hostage and one was killed in Colorado by a 54-year-old man who had chained the front doors shut. Roberts used that trick, too, Coleman says.

The killers are uniformly "homicidal, suicidal, sexually dysfunctional males" who feel powerless and blame others for their problems. Attacking school students – young girls are favoured targets – makes these people feel powerful and strong, Coleman says.

Eleven of the 12 school victims in the attack in Germany last month were females students and teachers.

Read more here.

Publicity may have contributed to the increase in school shootings in the past two decades.

Dec. 6, 1989 –14 women at Montreal's École Polytechnique killed with a semi-automatic rifle by Marc Lepine, 25.

March 13, 1996 – 16 children and their teacher killed by a 43-year-old avid gun collector in Dunblane, Scotland, after telephone lines cut.

April 20, 1999 –12 killed and 24 wounded at Columbine High School, in Colorado, on Hitler's birthday by two heavily armed, trenchcoated students, 17 and 18.

Sept. 1, 2004 – 333 hostages die in explosions after Chechen militants take over a school in Beslan, Russia.

Oct. 2, 2006 – 5 Amish girls killed and others injured in one-room Pennsylvania school by 32-year-old husband and father who kills self.

April 16, 2007 – 32 people killed in two separate attacks at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University by gunman who sent photos to TV station.

Sept. 23, 2008 – 10 people die in Finland's second school shooting that year, as a masked student rampages following YouTube warning.

March 11, 2009 – 15 people are killed in a school shoot-up and car chase in Winnenden, Germany, by a 17-year-old former high school student.

Source: Toronto Star, Toronto Star Library.

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1 comment:

Leon Basin said...

They sure do! I have noticed a pattern for sure. Thanks for this post.