Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Tennessee School Shooting

Tennessee School Shooting

There's been another school shooting . It was widely reported by the media today.

A teenager shot and killed an assistant principal and seriously wounded two other administrators at a high school, officials said. The student was arrested, after he was shot with his own gun, a .22-caliber handgun, in a struggle with law enforcement officers. Other than the suspect, Ken Bartley Jr., 15, no other students were hurt in the shooting.

In an overview, the Canada's National spread the news: "Principal Ken Bruce was shot in the chest just after 2 p.m. Tuesday and died soon after at a hospital....Principal Gary Seale was shot in the lower abdomen, and Assistant Principal Jim Pierce was shot in the chest. Seale was in serious condition and Pierce in critical condition at University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville."

Principal Seale, after being hit, raced to an intercom, called for a lockdown. The sealing of the school apparently saved more lives, students told the media.

Intriguingly, earlier this fall, there was a nonfatal school shooting in Saginaw, Michigan. Probable gang-member (translate this from the media as "African-American") Clarence Russell III, 15, was accused of shooting fellow sophomore Daniel Foster, 15, just after noon, Thursday, October 20 near a stairwell inside Saginaw High School. Foster did not die of his injuries, and some speculation occurred that it was a gang-related shooting. This seemed especially true when on Monday, October 24, in a drive-by shooting, three teens were targeted, with two hit. The one teen who was not shot was the 17-year-old half brother of Clarence Russell III.

Recent news articles about the Saginaw incidents, as the shooting moves to trial, however, have discussed the matter as a "school shooting.," harking back to the waves of school shootings that hit the country, beginning in the late 1990s.

It is an exercise in awareness of the copycat effect to see what past school schoolings the nonAmerica media, such as the British Broadcasting Corporation views as "significant," as per this listing:

Timeline: US school shootings .
March 2005: Minnesota schoolboy kills nine, then shoots himself
May 2004: Four people injured in shooting at a school in Maryland
April 2003: Teenager shoots dead head-teacher at a Pennsylvania school, then kills himself
March 2001: Pupil opens fire at a school in California, killing two students
February 2000: Six-year-old girl shot dead by classmate in Michigan
November 1999: Thirteen-year-old girl shot dead by a classmate in New Mexico
May 1999: Student injures six pupils in shoot-out in Georgia
April 1999: Two teenagers shoot dead 12 students and a teacher before killing themselves at Columbine School in Colorado
June 1998: Two adults hurt in shooting by teenage student at high school in Virginia
May 1998: Fifteen-year-old boy shoots himself in the head after taking a girl hostage
May 1998: Fifteen-year-old shoots dead two students in school cafeteria in Oregon
April 1998: Fourteen-year-old shoots dead a teacher and wounds two students in Pennsylvania
March 1998: Two boys, 11 and 13, kill four girls and a teacher in Arkansas
December 1997: Fourteen-year-old boy kills three students in Kentucky
October 1997: Sixteen-year-old boy stabs mother, then shoots dead two students at school in Mississippi, injuring several others

The list is, in reality, much longer, as you can see from The Copycat Effect (2004), but it is noting the ones that are highlighted that is enlightening. As anyone can see, the post-9/11 gap appears to have been caused by the media not reporting on school shootings.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Bird Flu Media Hysteria

Let's all calm down a bit. The media and governmental hysteria that is being whipped up in the talk of bird flu becoming an international pandemic is all too familiar. First, how about setting aside the illogical statements coming from the Bush administration. They are feeding into the media frenzy by saying they are set to call out the military, declare quarantines, and close the borders, when it is well-known that this does not stop bird flu (hey, birds fly, remember).

So, catch your breath, and compare the bird flu predictions of global mass deaths to recent media scares of a similar nature.

In The Copycat Effect, I wrote:

In the summer of 2002, the West Nile virus was declared a great danger to Americans. As it developed, however, only a small number of people died (54), but as the Christian Science Monitor noted, “One would think from media reports that Americans are suffering the plague.”

During the spring and summer of 2003, Severe Acute Respiratory Disease, the “SARS epidemic,” replaced the hysteria of the West Nile virus. SARS first emerged in November 2002, in the Guangdong province of China, but by the first warm months of 2003, you would think it was spreading like wildfire all over the world. On April 23, 2003, USA Today was warning that health officials were saying that “if SARS is not contained, it could cause millions of deaths worldwide - and some of those deaths would almost certainly occur in the USA.” The death drumbeat of the media was very clear.
USA Today continued: “In terms of sheer numbers, the SARS epidemic so far pales in comparison to other worldwide epidemics. The Spanish flu of 1918-1919 killed roughly 30 million people, including about 675,000 Americans. Over the past 20 years, the slow-motion funeral march of AIDS has carried off 20 million people; 40 million more are poised to die in the next decade. Yet SARS is just beginning. The death toll could rise dramatically.”

On June 24, 2003, the newspaper that publishes “All The News That’s Fit to Print” did a special sciences spread on the “SARS Epidemic.” The
New York Times had proclaimed it the “Summer of SARS,” just as surely as Time had crowned 2001 “The Summer of the Shark.” The source of the disease was unknown and serious, but a look at the known death tolls in June 2003, when the “epidemic peaked,” reveals that worldwide there were 812 deaths, of which 348 were in China, 298 in Hong Kong, 84 in Taiwan, 32 in Singapore, and 38 in Canada.

For all the talk of wild animal attacks and deadly viruses sweeping the world, it is obvious the media misses the bigger picture daily, instead going for the melodramatic, the dramatic, and the sensational. If news organizations were really interested in talking about the most deathly animal around, for example, they would be doing more reports on mosquitoes which, according to the World Health Organization, are responsible for two million deaths annually from encephalitis, Dengue fever, malaria, and the West Nile virus, or the tsetse fly which wipes out another 66,000 people every year. But a news story about a mosquito just doesn’t have the bite of a shark story obviously.

The media loves melodrama. Sensationalism now rules the news. In the human realm, the media reinforces the events it covers. Otherwise, it blows subjects out of all proportion to reality. The unjustified amount of attention it devotes to shark attacks and SARS, for example, demonstrates that the level of media coverage has no relation to the real impact these topics have on most people.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Chatroom Copycats

We've heard about them in Japan. Now the media is reporting on what they are calling "the first internet suicide pact" discovered in the United Kingdom. And the method the couple used was directly copied from recent Asian pacts.

The bodies of Christopher Aston, 25, and Maria Williams, 42, were found in a car in Greenwich Peninsula Park, near the Millenium Dome in southeast London, at 7 p.m. on February 23, 2005. Aston, a Ph. D. student who grew up in the street next to Penny Lane in Liverpool, and the unemployed Williams, a former private detective and convicted fraudster who used the name Sanchez, poisoned themselves with fumes from burning barbecue charcoal,according to the report of the inquest. They died two days after making contact for the first time on a chatroom dedicated to discussions about suicide.

The Guardian's Ian Cobain reported, "Mr Aston and Ms Williams were found together in her red BMW, parked outside a branch of the TK Maxx store, a place which her family say she liked because she had used 'dodgy credit cards' to shop there."

Cobain noted that due to this suicide, "Internet companies are being urged by the Home Office to make so-called suicide websites and chatrooms more difficult to access." [Mr. Cobain, of course, shares his name with Kurt Cobain whose suicide has since spawned at least 70 copycat suicides worldwide.]

The suicides of Aston and Willians, however, are not the "first internet" suicide pact in the UK. In The Copycat Effect, I report on the 2003 deaths of Louis Gillies, 36, and Michael Gooden, 35. They met on the internet, exchanged messages, and decided to kill themselves together. Journeying to the famous "suicide cliff" of Beachy Head, they were going to jump together. Gillies did and died. Police charged Gooden with assisting the Gillies suicide, but before standing trial, he was found hanged in his home on April 22, 2003, when he failed to appear at court.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Oklahoma's Suicide Bomber

On Saturday evening, October 1, 2005, University of Colorado student, 21-year-old Joel Henry Hinrichs III of Colorado Springs, killed himself with a bomb. He was sitting near the university's Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, which at the time was filled with more than 84,000 football fans. The game between the Oklahoma Sooners and Kansas State was undisturbed. The explosion only killed Hinrichs, who was sitting on a park bench outside Cross Hall, a university science building, just west of the stadium.

"He was a very intelligent, very private individual who somehow lost the confidence that his life would be a good one. Obviously, every parent believes their son is a good kid, and I certainly believed that about mine," said his father, Joel Henry Hinrichs Jr., according to reporter AP Jeff Latzke. Hinrichs' father also noted he did not think his son had even one friend.

Was the younger Hinrichs an al Qaeda wannabe, just like Charles Bishop, who flew into a Tampa, Florida building, in imitation of the 9/11 suicide hijackers?

According to the Northeast Intelligence Network, while searching Hinrichs' apartment, Colorado "officials stated that they recovered 'a significant amount' of Islamic 'Jihad' type literature, some possibly written in Arabic, along with the suspect’s computer. Some of the documentation included material on how to construct bomb-making vests."

In terms of the copycat factor, hours earlier, half a globe away, it was already Saturday, October 1st, 2005. News hit the media late on September 30, and early on October 1st, in the USA and around the world, that three suicide bombers had walked into the midst of families eating in three restaurants in Bali. The resulting explosions left, so far, 19 people dead, and over a 100 injured. It was a reminder of the October 12, 2002 disco suicide bombers that killed 202 dead, many of them being nightclubbing Australians.

Was Hinrichs a vulnerable, lonely, suicidal young man who became a copycat Jihad warrior, in hopes of joining "something"? Will tomorrow's next and perhaps more dangerous American copycat suicide bomber have a similar psychological profile?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

"Rampages" Are Back

Post-Rita and Post-Katrina "Rampages"

As often occurs after a period in which there is a single media theme (such as the hurricane disasters lately), such a time is followed by a microburst of local news becoming national bulletins, and a spate of violent "rampages" appear to "happen."

As the 2005 school year began, a bizarre incident occurred (a potential "school shooting") that boomeranged on the shooter's family. The sad series of events unfolded on Tuesday, September 20, 2005, in Elkhorn City, Kentucky. Matthew Hackney, 17, a senior, was sent home from East Ridge High School for being intoxicated. Hackney allegedly was going to get a gun to return to school. At home, instead, he then shot to death his parents (Ivan Hackney, 47, and Shirley Hackney, 44) and grandmother (Wilma Hackney, 63). Hackney next told Christa Coleman, 18, that he'd killed his parents, and wanted to hide out at her house. She told him: "No way." Hackney died in a crash after police attempted to pull him over on a highway. Another driver also was killed.

On the next day, September 21, in Las Vegas, Nevada, Stephen M. Ressa, 27, of Rialto, California, drove a Buick stolen from his 54-year-old mother (whom he choked unconscious on Monday, September 19) into a crowd in front of the Bally casino. He allegedly killed two tourists and injured 12 others. Ressa told police the people appeared to be "like demons."

Perhaps in a copycat trigger, mentions author Michael Newton in an email to me, on January 29, 2005, former schoolteacher Priscilla Ford, 75, died in prison, and her death was noted in the media with retellings of her earlier crime. Ford drove her car onto a downtown Reno, Nevada sidewalk on Thanksgiving 1980, killing six people and injuring 20. During her trial for murder, her mental state--including an obsessive identification with Seventh-day Adventist figure Ellen White (to whom Ford bore a striking resemblance)--drew concern. She was found guilty and sentenced to death, but never executed.

The September 21 news was also "reminiscent of an April 2000 crash that killed a Wisconsin man and injured five other people in front of the Aladdin hotel-casino in Las Vegas....A Las Vegas stripper, Juanita Kim McDonald, was sentenced to five to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to driving under the influence in the 2000 crash," noted the Hollister Free Lance.

On Monday afternoon, September 26, Victor Piazza, 55, allegedly shot two co-owners and an office manager at Velma International, a nail polish factory in New Windsor, New York. He then killed himself. Piazza had been fired from the company 19 months earlier, after pornography was found on his company computer.

Update September 27, 2005
The most seriously wounded by Victor Piazza, who used a .38 pistol, is JoAnne Obrien, 48, the office manager of the New Windsor factory. She remained in very critical condition at St. Luke's Cornwall Hospital on the 27th.

Intriguingly, regarding the twilight language, the Verla International's office and plant location, in New Windsor, New York, is on Temple Hill Road.

Update September 30, 2005
JoAnne Obrien died on September 30th.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Another 9/11 Copycat

In a comment by Sam Vaknin, Ph.D., in the Global Politician on September 26, 2005, he writes "the September atrocities provoked a wave of copycats and renewed awareness of such risks."

Mentioning the January 2002-Tampa and April 2002-Milan incidents I wrote about in my "Planes into Buildings" chapter, Vaknin also notes one I've not heard about: "At the beginning of May 2002, an Indian air force jet crashed into a bank building in northwestern India. Eight died in the ensuing fire."

Saturday, September 17, 2005

More Capital Hijackings?

Taking a plane trip to or from an international capital or similar city soon? Watch out! We are entering a time of increased hijackings. And a common factor is they concern global "capitals."

Are you aware that news services from Aljazeera to China's Xinhua today had a lot to say about a hijacking? Probably not, because it is not on the American media's radar yet.

But on Saturday, September 17, 2005, a man hijacked a plane in "New Zealand’s commercial capital and biggest city," in direct copycat of 9/11, which occurred in America's commerical, financial, and media "capital," New York City. The N.Z. hijacker said he was going to fly it into Auckland's tallest building, the Sky Tower. Instead, he crashed the plane into the sea Saturday night and was rescued and taken to a hospital. Not coincidentally, September 17th is New Zealand's General Election Day. The leaders of the parties were awaiting the election results in Auckland, not in N.Z.'s capital city, Wellington.

While Americans may have only vaguely heard about this news due to the constant Katrina media coverage in the US, around the world this event comes on the heels of other hijacking stories this week. And, of course, the media has been awash in 9/11 hijack docudramas and documentaries, due to the fourth anniversary on Sunday, September 11.

On Monday, September 12, a father in a "too large for the detectors" wheelchair dodged a checkpoint and smuggled grenades onto a plane. The father and son hijackers surrendered five hours after commandeering an Aires airliner around midday Monday after it departed from the southern city of Florencia on a flight headed to Colombia's capital, Bogota. All passengers and crew were eventually freed unharmed before the hijackers, 42-year-old Porfirio Ramirez and his 22-year-old son, Linsen Ramirez, gave up and were arrested.

On the morning of Tuesday, September 13, Adane Bayu Arage, an Israeli youth attempted to get a disassembled gun and 22 bullets, hidden inside a tool, onto a plane. He allegedly planned to hijack a passenger plane, Ethiopian Airlines Flight Number 424, in the capital of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The youth was born in Ethiopia and later immigrated to Israel. The Israeli Foreign Ministry questioned whether the suspect is Israeli.

Plane hijackings come in waves because they are one of the most likely events to be impacted by the copycat effect. In the 1970s, social scientists began talking about a "skyjack virus" transmitted through the media. Then in 1973, Dr. David Phillips published his first study on the importance of imitation in explaining hijackings. The rest is history, and some of it quite recent, of course.

If such events have become a frequent current topic of the international media, including such outlets as Aljazeera, don't be surprised to watch an upturn in hijackings.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Scotsman Drops Ball

A wave of suicides in a Scottish community is being recognized as the probable result of the copycat effect. But the media only goes halfway in preventing future copycats.

Edinburgh's Scotsman publishes an article on September 16, with the headline, "Third teenage death fuels fears of copycat suicides."

Discussing the third suicide in three months in Lothians' Livingston, the paper writes: "Ryan Hargan, 17, was found by his mother in the bathroom of his home on Wednesday evening. Ryan's death comes only a week after Liam Cosgrove, 15, was found hanging from a climbing frame of a playpark in the town. In June, Daniel Brockie, 16, was also found hanging in his home."

The paper extends the copycat effect by graphically detailing the local method of suicidal death. This is an unnecessary retelling of this means, easily available to youth, as a behavioral option and something "their peers" are doing.

Also, "in recent years, the Lothians has been rocked by a series of teenage suicides. Seven teenagers took their own lives in the Lothians in just six months. Three Lothian youths were believed to have taken their own lives in March 2002, bringing the total to seven since August 2001."

Why the use of the word "rocked"? The twilight meaning for youth is that "to rock" is a positive outcome.

The realization that the copycat effect may be involved is mentioned. "ChildLine Scotland director Anne Houston has warned about copycat suicides. Ms Houston said: 'Part of the concerning thing, according to people who work with suicide as an issue, is it can almost become infectious. It can have a copycat effect.'"

Awareness is the first step, but the newspaper's article unfortunately merely "reports" (somewhat too graphically) without going the next step. Despite mentioning that "Children's charities have today urged suicidal youngsters in the Lothians to come forward" to talk to someone about their feelings, the article does not give hotline or helpline numbers, or addresses or websites for youth thinking about killing themselves to visit for a lifeline.

This article dropped the ball.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Indian celebrity copycats

The influence of the celebrity copycat effect is worldwide.

During a World Suicide Prevention Day 2005 news conference, September 12, India reported that it's rate of suicide is extremely high, with Indians topping the list of the 2,555 suicide victims annually nationwide, followed by the Chinese and Malays. The report said that Indians died by suicide at a rate of 21.1 suicides per 100,000 Indians, compared to 8.6 per 100,000 Chinese and 2.6 per 100,000 Malays, among their country's population.

In a New Strait Times article, "Indians top suicide list," Health Ministry deputy director-general Datuk Dr Shafie Ooyub.
urged "the media to play down stories on celebrity suicides which sometimes led to a copycat effect on some. He said some tended to think that the celebrity’s act was 'cool' and could be emulated. Dr Shafie was referring to the suicides of Hong Kong superstar Leslie Cheung Kwok Wing, who leapt off a 24th floor balcony, and that of South Korean actress Lee Eun-ju, who hanged herself earlier this year."

Shafie told the newspaper: "We urge the media to tone down on such reporting as there are people committing suicides because their favorite celebrity did so."

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Oswald and Atta

Katrina & 9/11

Allow me to randomly speak of recent and past events on a more personal level today, on how I am relating to these difficult few days and anniversaries.

Remembering the Unbelievable

Name the biggest stories of modern media? Pearl Harbor Day? No, too long ago for you? JFK's assassination? Of course, if you are a certain age. Post-Edward R. Murrow, our modern broadcast news (live, in the field, and on video, versus archival, in the studio, and on film) began on 11/22/63. (Remember when we use to not write dates all the way out?) Yes, November 22, 1963. Four straight days of television news. I couldn't believe what I was watching. As a mere kid myself, I saw a kid from New Orleans named Oswald killed, live, while I was sitting on the back of my family's couch in my living room. Live. Unbelievable.

Then 9/11 happened. We all saw that "live" too. I "heard" the news through an email, turned on my television, and saw, like millions of others, the second plane crash. Live. I flew into New York City a month later to film an interview for a documentary, and my plane banked exactly over Ground Zero, on my side of the plane. I looked straight into hell. And I watched on television how this all changed our view of America. All over again. Unbelievable.

Katrina. Almost two weeks later, and it's still on the television, every day, almost every moment. This one crept up on us, and yet has turned into one of the biggest and most sorrowful of cabe news' human tragedies. A natural disaster that has become worse as a manmade one. Television, the internet, radio. Katrina, day and night. New Orleans is a great city that I have visited a few times. There's always been an underground twilight language part of New Orleans, of course. I informally once, even created a walking tour of all of the locations (thanks to addresses from John Gooch) where Lee Harvey Oswald lived, worked, demonstrated, and interacted with the shadow side of government. I've stood on the streets with my sons and caught beads. I've enjoyed the music of the city. Now on television, America sees little of the life, history, or traditions of that city. No jazz, no Lafayette Square, no, not even any stories about the Voodoo Queen in Cemetery #1. It is all about floating bodies, the horror of the Convention Center, and an Arabian horse guy heading FEMA these days (but may not tomorrow). On a more subtle level, it is about the race war in America, and reflects, as I've mentioned in The Copycat Effect how "death sells" in the media. Unbelievable.


What the Katrina coverage does is expose an incredible vulnerable belly to the world. If you live in America, you know its truths. You realize that some whites are afraid of people of color, and some would rather think all blacks are going to loot that just be in need. You know that a rich guy's government will fly in troops within hours to Florida during hurricane disasters if your brother is the governor there, but if a black mayor and a Democratic governor are saying things to you about New Orleans, you just won't "get" it for a few days. We know that, on some level. Now it is being broadcast worldwide. We have to face this - what is being reported, that we have shown al Qaeda we are sometimes less than a super power, and that we are only human. And we are showing ourselves these things too.

Sure, sometimes is has not been the media's finest hour. We see the media stumbling around with words like "refugees" for days before they get it that these are American "survivors" or "evacuees." We still hear NPR's news department and PBS's nightly reports have "experts" debate "pre-planning," which actually, of course, means simply "planning." But from the brown water of New Orleans, the future comes forth. What of tomorrow?

The predictions have begun. It is almost 9/11 again, and we have some hard days ahead.

Take Tom Ritchford, New York author and Fortean thinker, for example. On an internet forum, he put out this list of predictions, including these:

-- al Qaeda clearly wishes to strike again at some point.
-- the resistance movement in Iraq is about ready for a "Tet
offensive" to cause serious damage to the (distracted by mutinies!) US
-- China wishes to take Taiwan and doesn't care about headlines.
-- there are many other evil forces that want to take on the United
States now that it has moved to the dark side.
and September 11 approaches.
If I were one of these parties and I had a nefarious scheme hatched,
I'd be racing to get it going just at the point where the US's
resources are most tied up with disaster recovery -- Sunday, September
11. I'd hit people at a vacation center or some similar relaxation
place -- they've already made people feel unsafe at work, why not make
them feel unsafe at play?
If I were bold I'd hit the Patriot Day parade in DC. (Did you know
9/11 is now called Patriot Day?)

Why Portland?

Can such things happen? Will al Qaeda see that if there was ever a time to strike again, a la' London's 7/7, it is now, because of how far stretched America is? Will they decide to hit a mall, like the Bloomington Mall in Minnesota, or all those targets people have been watching like the Sears Tower. How many people are guarding the malls versus how many are watching the Seattle airport? You do the math.

And speaking of math, what about the dates? This Bush administration's little known badly named Patriot Day (9/11) may or may not be that important to al Qaeda, as I think they have their own number, date, and name game agenda. They might wish to go for the real Patriots Day, in April, in Maine, or the Patriots Day in Massachusetts, at the Boston Marathon, for example. Thousands of people there. Of course, this is not an invitation, but we have to see that we might not see what they see. Maine, you ask? Why?

Well, then, truth be told, I live in Portland, Maine, where 9/11 all began for Mohammed Atta, who picked Flight 11, so needless to say, I'm not letting my guard down on 9/11/05. Or 11/9/05. Or 11/11 (Veteran's Day). Or on next April's Patriots Day 2006, 2007, 2008, and so forth. Atta, the leader of the operations wing of 9/11, historically, was tied into those elevens. Afterall, the first mastermind of the 1993 Twin Towers attack was Ramzi Yousef, and he used parts of Bonjinka, a plan to place bombs on 11 planes in the Phillippines, for the eventual 9/11 attacks. Yousef's test run for Bonjinka occurred on, you guessed it, another eleven, December 11, 1994. Sometime, look up the 1970 origins of the naming of the group "Black September," whose kidnapping of Israeli athletes attending the Munich Olympics (which was scheduled to end on September 11, 1972), ended in the death of 11 of those athletes. Certainly, 9/11 hits very close to home. And lives on. Mysteries remain that may be hidden in numbers and places.

For example, why did Atta pick Portland? A question that haunts my city. And it troubles me too.

Was that Arab man I exchanged glances with and a smile that wasn't returned, in the Portland International Jetport, a few months before 9/11/01, Atta? I was on my way to another speaking engagement. I would later remember him vividly because he seemed relatively out-of-place in Portland - and there was those piercing eyes. Maybe just a business man visiting to make a deal, I thought. Unlikely. Only later, when all the photos of Atta were published, did I join the ranks of those in Portland who think they saw Atta here months before 9/11/01. Was he practicing? Why Portland?

Oh yes, some things come full circle. Today, you can go on an informal driving tour of the spots where Atta stayed (Comfort Inn), went to the two ATMs (at a bank and a Mobil Station), ate (Pizza Hut), and shopped (Wal-Mart), just like those Lee Harvey Oswald places I've visited in New Orleans. Frighteningly unbelievable.

Why Portland?

Why New Orleans?

Where next?

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Sharks, Gators, Oil

In The Copycat Effect, I discussed how shark and alligator attacks are frequent foci of the media. Despite the reality of how many actual attacks and fatalities happen every year, the articles increase when the newswriters decide to copy each other in a frenzy of animal encounter and attack reportage.

During the summer of 2005, the frequent sightings and infrequent captures of alligators and caimans are at one of their all-time highs. It has been building up all summer (into a "crazy croc season"). Since the attempts to catch an alligator or caiman seen in a lake near Los Angeles during August, the articles about gator sightings around the country have been appearing almost daily.

Now, according to Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner's Freakonomics blog, there seems to be something similar happening with articles about oil. In their blog today, entitled "'Peak Oil:' Welcome to the media's new version of shark attacks," they mention the copycat effect.

Steven Levitt wrote today:

"So why do I compare peak oil to shark attacks? It is because shark attacks mostly stay about constant, but fear of them goes up sharply when the media decides to report on them. The same thing, I bet, will now happen with peak oil. I expect tons of copycat journalism stoking the fears of consumers about oil induced catastrophe, even though nothing fundamental has changed in the oil outlook in the last decade."

I'd have to agree, wholeheartedly.

Thanks to Patrick Huyghe for bringing this one to my attention.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Yankees Logos and London Bombers

The New York Police Department has awakened to the worthwhile exercise of looking at the twilight language in the 7/7 and 7/21 London attacks.
On the first month anniversary of the attacks, the New York Daily News notes that "NYPD detectives are looking for hidden messages aimed at New York in the clothes the London bombers wore."
The story comments that "some of the terrorists dressed in shirts and caps emblazoned with the words 'New York' or the Yankees logo. 'We immediately seized on the fact that there were New York insignia,' David Cohen, NYPD deputy commissioner of intelligence, told business leaders at a briefing last week. 'We spent a lot of time examining this. We still don't know precisely what it meant.'"
"Cohen said the NYPD was working with London officials 'to go back through the wardrobes of these characters ... to determine, was this a purposeful message or was this just something pulled off the rack?' Bruce Hoffman, a senior Rand Corp. analyst, said it is possible that the terrorists were trying to make a statement with their attire. He speculated that Mohammed 'wearing a New York shirt showed that in his mind he was perpetrating his own 9/11.'"
This is no surprise.
The twilight language is deeply involved in these bombings.
As I have been suggesting for months, the dates, locations, and more should be examined in all these alleged al-Qaeda incidents. Perhaps it is time that the wardrobes of the Madrid, Moscow, and Bali bombers now be reviewed too.
[Thanks to SMiles for the link.]

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Copycat of 7/7

How much more of a copycat could this be? Another Thursday in London, three explosions in the subway, one on a bus.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

London Explosions

Reports from London are of series of subway and double-decker bus explosions this morning.

Al Qaeda? G8 is meeting in Edinburgh and the announcement for the 2012 Olympics being held in London was made yesterday.

Is there a twlight language angle here? If the reports are confirmed, apparently there were four explosions taking place on 7-7-2005 (with 2 + 5 = 7). Needless to say, al Qaeda has shown a deep interest in numerical symbolism, with attention to "elevens" in their past attacks, with the 9/11 incidents most discussed, as well as terrorist explosions occurring in the Philippines, Bali, and Madrid. Is there something going on with "sevens" too?

Such as with Flight 77 being one of the planes hijacked on 9/11?

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Summer Scares

Shark Scares

The media appears to be salivating at the prospect that this could be another "Summer of the Shark." Two severe shark attacks, one fatal, in three days off the west coast of Florida have articles being printed with headline warnings that this may be "Just The Beginning."

Spielberg Scares

Since the summer of 1975 when a certain now-successful Hollywood director's Jaws terrified the teens off the beaches, shark attack scares have existed in the human psyche, thanks to Steven Spielberg.

Now Spielberg visits upon us his latest chronicle of cinema terror in his continuing series of screaming children flicks. I went to War of the Worlds with my older sons last night. It is a movie, both frightening and engaging. As a science-fiction motion picture, it will be critiqued as significant and important. But there's a twilight language text to this film. Spielberg has added a new chapter to his allegedly covert pedophile tendencies, in which his motion pictures (e.g. Jurassic Park, Hook, Artificial Intelligence: AI, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Poltergeist, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Twilight Zone: The Movie) appear to delight in scaring and emotionally abusing children.

This is not a novel idea. Adam Parfrey wrote a 1996 essay on Spielberg's seemingly sinister trend in his movie themes, which was reprinted in the Steamshovel Press entitled "Pederastic Park?." If you get a chance, read Parfrey's essay.

If you have young children, you might wish to think twice about them going to see the new Spielberg version of War of the Worlds. I frankly don't understand why some subplots are in there, such as the one involving the Tim Robbins character, who is one behavior away from overtly being a child molester.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Moodiness and Media Self-Defense

Copycat Events Catchup

I've been busy with other matters, but the copycat effect hasn't. And the media's reaction to it, as well.

There are the usual late spring shooting sprees, but the one that jumps out, of course, is the sad story of the Logan County, Ohio, high school senior who was about to graduate but instead kills six people. This, I find, had many elements of a school shooting and family rampage mixed into it.

As widely reported by the media, Scott Moody, 18, just hours away from graduating from high school, fatally shot three family members (his grandparents and mother), two friends and himself on Sunday, May 29th, in rural Bellefontaine, Ohio. The twilight language named "Logan" county has been the scene of many unusual events, down through the years.

As usual, accounts of the funeral carried this line: "Neighbors and friends said they could not reconcile the description of Moody as the gunman with the quiet boy they knew," Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 7, 2005.

Next, I wish to thank correspondent T. Peter Park for bringing to my attention an article in The Guardian of June 7, 2005. It begins somewhat humorously: "Reading the BBC news headlines on the internet one night last month, Graham Barnfield came across references to an academic blaming TV shows for the 'happy slapping' craze. 'My first thought was, here we go again,' he says. 'Yet another berk falling for the theory of copycat behaviour.'

As he read on, the article was about him.

While this funny scenario unfolds, however, we get this bit of media self-defense sent our way: "Anyone who had bothered to read any of Barnfield's published writings on the media would know that he distinguishes between the cognitive effects of television and film, where viewers absorb information, and the behavioural effects, where they allegedly copy scenes from the screen. 'While the first undeniably exists,' he says, 'there is very little evidence for the second.'"

Unfortunately, Barnfield seems to have missed out on reading about the Werther or Copycat Effect in the last thirty years. The Werther Effect notes that movies like The Deer Hunter result in an increase in Russian roulette deaths, events like celebrity suicides produce a bump in the national suicide rate, and school shootings are most certainly copycatted. If anyone knows Mr. Graham Barnfield's address, send it along, and I'll post him a copy of
The Copycat Effect.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Zion Killings and Devil Ladder Road's Mass Murder

The Mother's Day killings in Zion, Illinois, of two young girls, one a Hobbs (wearing an "angel" t-shirt), allegedly by her father, Jerry Hobbs ("Hobbs" = Old English for "Devil") was followed by the discovery of six bodies on Devil Ladder Road (or Devil's Ladder Road, in some reports) in Riverside County, California.

David McGowan, 44, apparently shot his wife, mother, and three children to death early Tuesday, May 10, in the murder-suicide at his large ranch home on that road, in Garner Valley, near Idyllwild.

McGowan was a Riverside County district attorney's investigator. No motive is known for the mass killings.

What will this year's only Friday the 13th bring?

Thursday, May 12, 2005

No Surprise: Car Chase Killing Broadcast Live

In a press release on February 26, 2003, Mayor Jim Hahn, Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, the California Highway Patrol, the Los Angeles Police Chiefs’ Association and the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners ask the media to "stop live continuous television coverage of police pursuits" - more popularly known as "car chases." They noted that "the media’s treatment of pursuits as entertainment encourages copycats to engage in these highly dangerous chases."

More that 700 suspects fled L.A. law enforcement officers in 2002, making Los Angeles the "Car Chase Capital of the World."

The ultimate outcome of all of the car chases being televised was predictable. As crosstown television station NBC4 headlined the news, on May 11, 2005, "Officers shoot man on live TV at end of pursuit." After a 50-minute pursuit across the Los Angeles communities of Long Beach and the South Bay, it ended with the fatal shooting of the car's driver, as he ran out of the car with one gun, dropped it, and then went for another in his pocket. Rival KABC-TV had shown the sequence of events live on air, as they followed the events from TV helicopters.

A KABC-TV spokesman told the The Los Angeles Times, "Live breaking news is always unpredictable." The spokesman said no one knew shots were going to be fired and "the instant we did, we went to a wide shot.".

But why the surprise? How have some car crashes ended? With the crash of the car? With the injury or death of the drivers or bystanders? Yes, of course. What is the goal of showing car chases, over and over? And have the media acknowledged that the copycat effect is in full swing here, and that every car chase shown stimulates more to occur? This "kind of story...has become a staple of local newscasts," noted The Los Angeles Times.

Following the live coverage of the shooting, Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton and Sheriff Lee Baca again urged TV stations to reduce their coverage of chases, arguing that the intense focus encourages criminals to flee from authorities.

Marty Kaplan, an associate dean at the USC Annenberg School for Communication, asked by the paper about the car chases said: "I think the motto, 'If it bleeds, it leads,' didn't just fall from the sky....It's well-known that mayhem attracts our attention…. Ever since the possibility of O.J. Simpson blowing his brains out while we all watched him in the Bronco, we have known the power of that stuff to get ratings."

I guess this is why the subtitle of my book is "How the Media and Popular Culture Trigger the Mayhem in Tomorrow's Headlines," and I include a section about "Death Sells."

Will this wake up the LA media? No, instead, the local California news today will be a platform for multiple repeats of this "dramatic" shooting, just as it has been on all the national morning news shows today.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Twilight Language in Zion?

Ritualistic Killings in Zion?

The twilight language may be revealed in the Mother's Day killings of two second-grade girls near Beulah Park in Zion, Illinois. Could the place and victims have been purposedly selected?

The news of the deaths are the lead story in many media outlets. Let me quote from today's (May 10, 2005) New York Times to make some points.


First, you have the name "Zion" with it's natural lexilinks to the ancient "Zion" of the Mideast and to the "Zion" of the Matrix movies. As I point out in The Copycat Effect, some killers have used The Matrix for inspiration.

In the New York Times article, "2 Girls Found Stabbed to Death in Illinois Park," writers Gretchen Ruethling and Jodi Wilgoren note that Illinois's present-day Zion, "a close-knit community of nearly 23,000 people about halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee, was founded by an evangelist in 1901 as a utopian society 'where residents would commit to living clean lives, have healthy habits and work together for the honor and glory of God,' according to its Web site. One of the first planned cities in the United States, it was laid out to imitate the British flag, its main roads, all with biblical names, leading to a hub."

The young victims, who were found fully-clothed and not sexually-molested, but nevertheless were killed in a way said to be "heinous" and "heart-rending."

The Name Game Continued: Hobbs and Krystal

The names of the girls were released today. Police identified them as Laura Hobbs, 8, and Krystal Tobias, 9, best friends in the same class at Beulah Park Elementary School in Zion. People familiar with my writings on the occult (as in hidden) "name game" will recognize immediately a moniker that pops up often in my discussions: "Hobbs."

From an earlier book of mine, talking, at first about the fictional use of the name "Hobbs," I mention that:

...Hobbs Lane has a long history of poltergeist, haunting and apparition activities. One keen young researcher discovers an old street sign near the diggings, and she notes the spelling is “Hob’s Lane,” not “Hobbs Lane.” “Hob,” it turns out, is another name for “devil,” or the “Devil,” if you prefer.
Some words do not appear to be what they so calmly convey. “Hob,” for example, is an alteration of Robin or Robert, as in Robin Goodfellow, a rustic, a clown (lest we get too far from the phantom clowns). Goodfellow, sometimes called Puck, was/is a tricksy house sprite or elf in popular English fairy lore. And Puck is sometimes called hobgoblin. Even the descriptive verb “hobble” refers to the word’s origins, as the classic view of the Devil shows cloven hooves.
In the United States, consequently, Hobbs, New Mexico, and Hobbs, Indiana, have “devil’s names.” Although the local folks know a great deal about the strange things happening thereabouts, most probably do not know that the etymological origins of their towns’ names flash back to a demonic past.

The Zion case also involves the name "Krystal," a name we have come across before in high-profile cases. On March 19, 2000, Krystal Steadman, age 9, was kidnapped from an apartment complex in Stateline, Nevada. She was beaten, raped, tortured and murdered. The next day her body was found near Highway 50, below Spooner Summit. In 1999, teenager Krystal Archer was battered and died in a ravine, where she was thrown, near Madison, Georgia. Krystal Baker, 13, disappeared after calling a friend from a Texas City, Texas, convenience store, on March 5, 1986. Her beaten body was found on the same day twenty-five miles north of Texas City under the Trinity River Bridge. Special names in special places.

The nature of the Zion murders, the name game being "played" there, the twilight language used may all reveal this new homicide is by a ritualistic or serial killer.

The Investigators: Watkins

Finally, in terms of the name game's ultimate coincidental twist,New York Times identified the chief spokesperson emerging from the Zion situation as "Clyde Watkins, deputy chief of the Zion Police Department."

"It's a crime against not only those kids but against all of us," Chief Watkins said at a news conference on Monday afternoon, as quoted by The New York Times. "We have two murdered children, and we don't have anybody in custody."

"Watkins" may "see" things the rest of us do not or feel personally impacted by these crimes. The name "Watkins" turns up in these cases, as the ones with insights. Watkins is a key name linked to historic child disappearances, such as ther series at Watkins Glen, New York, in the 1970s, or the law enforcement officers doing the looking into these crimes (e.g. Columbus police Lt. David Watkins who is investigating El Salvador kidnappings in central Ohio). It probably is just a coincidence, therefore, that earth mysteries observer and discoverer of ley lines in 1921, was named Alfred Watkins.

Ritualistic killers won't be picking specially-named towns with police officers named "Watkins," would they?

This Zion killer won't have selected these kids because of their names, would he?

The thought is horrifying. I am hoping I am so wrong on this one.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Freeway Sniper Incidents, Compared to Beltway Attacks

While information is relatively quiet in the American national media, data on some recent LA freeway sniper incidents have hit the London papers. Four deaths on the highways around Los Angeles have been recorded during March and April 2005, but other than in southern California, it has not jumped to broader attention before now.

The Times of London (UK) observed:

"So far detectives have no suspects in any of the shootings. Although they are not ruling out the kind of 'Beltway sniper attacks' that terrorised the East Coast in 2002, they are more concerned that the shootings are simply copycat incidents."

Monday, April 18, 2005

Black Smoke, White Smoke, Gun Smoke

I am off to Atlanta, to spend three days with the folks from the CDC, reviewing applicants' grant proposals on suicide prevention. I'm not certain what's going to happen while I'm away, but I am prepared for the coming days to be eventful. This next week will hold promises of some hopeful news and yet, too, of some events that hopefully will not occur, despite my sense of what might be.

The election of a new pope will be signaled with puffs of white smoke and ringing of bells, but this may be proceeded by days of black smoke as a divided conclave reflects the disputatious days in which we live. Who will be the twilight language's 111th Pope - "The Glory of the Olives" - Pope Gloria Olivæ?

Meanwhile, will April 18, Patriots' Day, technically exactly four weeks since the Red Lake school shooting, greet us with wondering for whom the bells will toll, as gun smoke drifts over a school campus? Or will April 19 (Waco and Oklahoma City bombing) or April 20 (Columbine and Hitler's birthday) be marked with violence again? Then comes April 21, the numerical and reflective "one month" from Red Lake's March 21. That might mirror what happened with Columbine's April 20, "anniversary" syndrome six years ago when a link to the symbolic month, not the technical one, occurred. It was on May 20, when six students in a Conyers, Georgia high school were wounded by a 15 year old shooter who put the gun in his mouth but didn't fire. No one died in the incident, thankfully.

People are taking seriously the whole idea that a copycat school shooting could occur. Already we are seeing the active intervention of people searching for signs as they surf the web to stop school shootings. The end of last week, a Cleveland salesman was credited by police in Asheville, North Carolina with foiling a possible rampage there. He authorities about the following message at a forum:
"I'm planning a Columbine on my dumb hippie school on the last day of school so everybody will be there to enjoy the Massacre," wrote the student with the screen name "Py." Later, he added, "I know where my dad's 12-gauge is along with his .45, .38 and his .22."

Meanwhile today, a San Diego County woman told law enforcerment of how she discovered through her granddaughter's Internet communications of messages mentioning the date of a threatened shooting being April 20th. Because of the date's link to Columbine, authorities took the threat seriously.

Everyone has their guard up for the coming smoke next week. I hope I return to Maine and only write of white smoke, not of gun smoke. The copycat effect's negativity does not have to happen if we use our awareness of it to prevent violence.

Friday, April 15, 2005

"F-Factor" to Stephen King's Rage - Deciphering School Schoolings

The D.C. newspaper, the Washington Blade, raises the notion that there's a hidden, in their words, "fag factor" behind school violence from Red Lake to Moses Lake, in their April 15, 2005 article, "'Boy-code’ a factor in fatal school shootings?."

Writer Ryan Lee makes several good points about the shameful abuse gay and lesbian students endure, and the homophobia in school. But as with articles that only consider the one-note arguments of medications or guns in America or bullying being the sole risk factor behind school shootings, we have to be careful about blaming everything on this newly promoted "boy-code."

Lee's examples are hand-picked, slanted, and focus only on the homophobia found in a few, only six, of the 45 school violence events since 1996, noted in my book. For example, his retelling of the Moses Lake incident is incomplete, if not downright incorrect.

The Blade's Lee writes that the February 2, 1996 school shooting at Frontier High School, in Moses Lake, Washington, involving Barry Loukaitis, resulted in one person being killed. Lee writes of Loukaitis' "anti-gay history": "Classmates testified during Loukaitis’ trial that he pledged to kill classmate Manuel Vela after Vela repeatedly taunted him as a 'faggot' a month before."

Homophobia is Everywhere

The horrible but true fact is that homophobic labels are in widespread use in America, across all demographic groups, between racial, ethnic, and speciality cliches that have developed in our extremely divided schools. The cultural war is alive and well in the new "no child left behind" focus on tests results, while the hearts and minds of our youth are being split into diverse groups. The f-label is the latest fad moniker to be employed in this new landscape. Students and other young people do not have to be outcasts, bullied, or "different" to have a demeaning slang form used against them, seemingly jokingly or with hostility. The reality of life in schools, in the last part of the 20th century into this one, is that this specific f-word has replaced the n-word for "normal" conversation. I was recently discussing this issue with a local high school student who told me that his teammates use the f-label (rendered as "feg" so they won't get in trouble with school officials) with each other all the time - painting the good, the bad, and the uncoordinated sports players with the anti-gay term.

Should we attempt to decipher a deeper meaning as linked to school shootings from this high level of usage? In most school shooting situations, I wage, if you interviewed the entire school body, you probably could hear about someone who had thrown the f-word in the direction of the future shooter, sometime, someplace. The label is overused, unfortunately these days, but it is used - in conjunction with all kinds of youth.

Furthermore, during my reading of the Lee article online his morning, it is clear that at least one factual error seems to make it seem as if the target was a direct result of Ryan Lee's homophobic "factor."

Moses Lake to Red Lake

Lee's article ignores the broader context in which the Moses Lake incident happened, and, indeed, misstates that one person was killed. There were three individuals shot dead. The pattern of death was a deliberate one, as I note in The Copycat Effect. Here's a summary of what I wrote in my book: On Groundhog’s Day, 1996, Barry Loukaitis, 14, dressed all in black, with boots and a long black tenchcoat that hid his father’s hunting rifle and two handguns, walked into his fifth-period algebra class at Moses Lake and started shooting. Loukaitis killed two classmates (Arnold Fritz and Manuel Vela) and then severely wounded another (Natalie Hintz). Next, Loukaitis aimed at the back of his algebra teacher, Leona Caires, and killed her as she was writing an equation on the chalkboard. With the carnage around him and 15 students in the room crying hysterically, Loukaitis calmly turned, smiled and said: “This sure beats algebra, doesn't it?” The line was an exact quote from the Stephen King novel, Rage. Physical education teacher Jon M. Lane then rushed into the room, knocked the rifle away from Loukaitis, and wrestled him to the floor to end the shooting.

Loukaitis had planned the shootings carefully, getting ideas, he said, from the Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman) book Rage (1977). In it, a troubled high school boy takes a gun to fictional Placerville High School, kills his algebra teacher “Mrs. Underwood,” another school adult “Mr. Vance,” and takes the algebra class hostage. Police would find a collection of Stephen King's books in Loukaitis' bedroom, including his well-worn copy of Rage.

Also a copy of Rage was found in the locker of Michael Carneal, a high school shooter who also killed three, on December 1, 1997, in West Paducah, Kentucky. Carneal is likewise on Ryan Lee's unfortunately labeled "fag factor" list. What Lee avoids mentioning is that all of Carneal's victims were girls, and they were in a prayer circle. Carneal was as anti-Christian as Jeff Weise in Red Lake or the shooters in Columbine. Yes, homophobia is there in some cases, as are several multivariables. Adolecents are not simple. School shootings are too complex for us to consider just one "factor."

A multifaceted view that various vulnerable young people are being triggered by the copycat effect is ignored, yet again, in Ryan Lee's otherwise thoughtful treatment of the topic. Just as a match can set off a fire of gasoline, wood, or paper, so too can the school shooters, coming from many backgrounds, be ignited to kill from many points of origin. A reaction to homophobic abuse is surely one risk factor, but it is certainly not the only one, another more than if "blame" totally is placed on Stephen King's Rage. To say so only furthers the media not looking more deeply at their role in these "copycat rampages."

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.

THE FUTURIST, May-June: "Combating Copycat Violence"

Just placed online, THE FUTURIST, May-June 2005 Vol. 39, No. 3, has published Lane Jennings' article, "Combating Copycat Violence," which tackles an important issue. I appreciate their acknowledgement of my attention to this subject in my new book.

THE FUTURIST has even been very responsive to my bit of feedback about their article. At the end of the commentary by Jennings, the journal has this final paragraph:

"Instead of suppressing the media, as Coleman seems to recommend, we could try harder to balance violent content with more positive stories that are dramatic and worthy of potential copycats' attention."

I wrote the editor to note that as opposed to wishing to restrain the media, in the final chapter of my book I agree exactly with Jennings through my seven recommendations and supporting text. My final recommendation, number seven, in fact, is as follows:

"(7) And finally, the media should reflect more on their role in creating our increasingly perceived violent society. Honest reporting on the positive nature of being alive in the twenty-first century may actually decrease the negative outcomes of the copycat effect, and create a wave of self-awareness that this life is rather good after all. Most of our lives are mundane, safe, and uneventful. This is something that an alien watching television news from outer space, as they say, would never know. The media should 'get real,' and try to use their influence and the copycat effect to spread a little peace rather than mayhem."

Managing Editor Cindy Wagner quickly sent me this email on April 11th: "We will post your response on our Website and include it in the Feedback section in the next issue of The Futurist magazine."

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Rebutting Neil Steinberg's Column on NYU

Dear Editor, New York Daily News:

Neil Steinberg's column in the Sunday, April 3, 2005, issue of the New York Daily News, has a negative comment on the NYU decision to close balconies to prevent suicides.

I have read similar comments in one student newspaper. But this view is an unfortunate one. And tragically uninformed, as well.

Steinberg notes that NYU's resolution is "well-intentioned but wrong in trying to curb student suicides," and then repeats this old incorrect chestnut: "People who want to kill themselves find a way." Recalling a deeply personal experience (which is how most people relate to suicide), Steinberg remembers when he was a student how another used a knife as the way to kill himself. Steinberg is talking about different methods. He is not discussing going from one method to another in his example, and certainly not giving insights into the copycat effect we see occurring at NYU, in which students there are dying by jumping, a very rare means of suicide.

Several components of what we know about suicide must be taken into account here. In general, in the majority of situations, when a person decides to take his or her own life, they stick to their plan, even an impulsive one, and in the majority of cases, do not drift from their chosen method, to die by suicide. Yes, there are exceptions to this, but people do not usually move from method to method to kill themselves. That's a myth that allows potential helpers the opportunity to feel helpless, and serves any of us in avoiding doing anything to prevent suicides. The rigidity of the tunnelvision of suicidal thinking often is inflexible to going to another method if the chosen one becomes unavailable. Actually interrupting the method often sidetracks the crisis into a helping period in which the suicidal person may put everything in perspective - and live beyond the crisis. In 2004, I wrote a book (The Copycat Effect) that details the decades of research supporting exactly what NYU has done to actively prevent suicides.

Steinberg then paradoxically goes on to say "removing the knives" doesn't work as well as "programs and campaigns designed to discourage suicide." If he believes this, what is wrong with trying as many programs as possible to save lives? And does he not see that "removing lethal means" is merely another one of these "programs"? In the midst of a suicide cluster or crisis, in the midst of a wave of behavior contagion as exhibited when the copycat effect sweeps through a campus or a high school, attention to the
specific method that is being modeled from one vulnerable individual to another must occur. Limiting access to that "copycatted" method keeps people safe and alive.

New York University officials are saving lives by closing balconies, and giving students a second chance to overcome the pain that they are trying to escape through their leaps of death. Student editorials and columnists aside, NYU has done the right thing!

Loren Coleman, MSW
Suicidologist, Author

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Copycat Catchup: NYU's balconies, Russian roulette, Minnesota fallout (news from Red Lake, Spokane gun incident)

It has been a busy week. Here's some items that have come to my attention in recent days.

NYU's balconies

On March 29, New York University's student paper, the Washington Square News broke the news that NYU was going to be closing all the balconies at two more dorms on campus to discourage jumping suicides. On March 30, the rest of the New York media - New York Times, Newsday, New York Post - picked up the story. Following two suicide leaps from the atrium of the Bobst Library, and after the series reached five recent NYU jumping suicides, the copycat effect certainly was occurring. NYU consulted with many specialists, including calling and talking to me, reading my book, and then decided to limit access to the lethal means, the dorm balconies. As one news source noted, it is no different that building a fence to prevent suicide off the Golden Gate Bridge. In answer to the students' and other critics who quickly said: "Well, if people want to kill themselves, they will just go to another method," - no, that may occur, but it usually does not. The copycatting of jumping is very real. The interruption of the suicidal plan that saves lives is a reality of suicide intervention and prevention work.

I'm at the University of New England today, to give a noontime talk to a student and faculty group there about college suicides.

Russian roulette

I got an email over the weekend from a colleague asking about The Deer Hunter and requesting some advice on talking to a teacher who had shown the film last week to a classroom of students, without even discussing it. Remarkably, the teacher had stopped the film at the point of the Russian roulette scene, and had the students rent it to watch at home. Of course, The Deer Hunter has a graphic depiction of Russian roulette and almost 50 copycat deaths are know to have been linked to viewing it. Needless to say, I recommended this parent share those passages in my book, filled with the case examples and research about The Deer Hunter, with the teacher. I learned yesterday she had, and the teacher was unaware, and thus shocked by this information. Education, education, education. Whew.

As fate would have it, I had recently learned that on March 22, 2005, according to Orange County law enforcement officials, an Apopka, Florida man, Jeremiah Overstreet, 27, had killed himself after watching the movie "Man on Fire" with his girlfriend at his home in Apopka. There is a scene in the movie in which the Denzel Washington character plays Russian roulette. As one media outlet, Local 6 News too graphically noted: "Overstreet put his own gun to his head knowing that there was one bullet inside the gun. The gun fired and hit Overstreet in the head. He was pronounced dead at the scene."

Red Lake Fallout

Another arrest has occurred in Red Lake, Minnesota. Investigators suspect there was a wider attack planned and have taken the tribal chairman's son into custody, according to the Pioneer Press of St. Paul, Minnesota.

Meanwhile, "The Devil in Red Lake" is the ill-advised and truly unfortunate headline in this week's Time Magazine, with reference to Jeff Weise and the school shootings at Red Lake, Minnesota.

With headlines like "Teen motivated by shootings in Minnesota," the Associated Press and MSNBC reported that a 14 year old Ferris High School (Spokane, Washington) student was arrested for bringing a loaded gun to his former school on Thursday, March 24. He allegedly planned to kill a teacher and himself, and told investigators he was partly motivated by the recent deadly shootings at a school on a Minnesota Indian reservation. He had taken the gun from his father. Police say the youth wrote a suicide note, then took the gun to Ferris High, where he saw his intended victim, a teacher inside a doorway. He came within six feet of the teacher, police said, but because others were around, he didn't carry out his plan. A family member called police after finding the boy's note. Officers later found the teen walking about four blocks from the school. Some news reports appear to say he was arrested on Friday, but it seems he was taken into custody on Thursday.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Predicting Dates of Future Shootings and Prevention

Predicting when the Red Lake school shooting would occur this year was relatively easy when one becomes attuned to the copycat effect.

So, now, when should we look for the next round of shootings? And can educators and law enforcement professionals do anything to be on the lookout and prevent them?

First of all, I do sense the wall-to-wall coverage of the Red Lake shooting may trigger vulnerable suicidal boys with guns who over-identify with Jeff Weise. Will the next one be another neo-Nazi who uses a gun or someone that hates their math class? I'm not a psychic but all the incidators are that a suicidal youth who "wants to take some people with him" could repeat this awful tragedy in the next month. There is a three/four-day, seven-day, and one-month media cycle that are behind these copycats.

So, if we get through next Monday, we might get beyond this current short-term window. But then in a month, we are going to be entering an extremely dangerous time. The whole week from April 18 through April 26 will be key. You have dates that are well-known twilight ones, extremely high priorities on the neo-Nazi-suicidal-school-shooter calendar, including April 19 (Waco & Oklahoma bombing anniversaries), April 20 (Hitler's birthday, Columbine anniversary), April 21 (Red Lake, MN's one-month anniversary), April 24 (Edinboro, PA school shooting anniversary), and April 26 (Rudolf Hess's birthday, Erfurt, Germany school shooting anniversary). Considering the multiple variables related to these dates, combined with when most suicides occur (Mondays), and the anniversaries at work here, I would say that the Mondays of April 18 or April 25, could be the dates to most worry about. As schools will be tuned into April 19-20, the dissemination of the other key dates should happen and officials should not let their guards down before or after these oft-mentioned dates. School shootings are not a remembrance of Columbine, and have more to do with rage, hate, and those feelings, for example, projected via neo-Nazi events or local specific death anniversaries, points on the calendar that have meaning to the shooters, personally.

What should people do? The hidden secret in preventing a school shooter is to have a broad-based suicide prevention program in place that identifies and takes seriously the link between suicidal males and school shooters. The other prevention means you hear on the media - heavy security at school via armed guards, via unarmed guards, via friendly school resource officers, metal detactors - are important, of course. But by the time student is thrown out or disassociated from his school, it is too late and he comes back to kill. A broad, coordinated suicide prevention and mental health approach needs to be given in conjunction with a safe school environment, and one in which students save lives through telling adults. Students need to be able to tell adults about their fears and what they have heard without thinking they will be "getting" a peer in trouble. The reinforcement of listening/telling skills must happen, so these front-line students can see that the youth they identify are given help, not punished.

It is a complex issue that calls for anything but simple answers.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

A Flawed Article: "Experts Debunk Notion of Copycats"

An Open Letter to the Rocky Mountain News Editors:

Unfortunately, concerning the phenomenon of school shootings, the Rocky Mountain News' "Experts Debunk Notion of Copycats" is a dangerous treatment of a serious subject and hardly a comprehensive survey of "experts." I count two Colorado individuals, one a lecturer in sociology and the other an assistant director at a research center as attempting to overturn over forty years of well-documented rigorous studies of behavior contagion and the copycat effect. In my book, The Copycat Effect, I use over 300 pages and 400 references to show the extent of this research and the findings.

Copycat suicide waves after the suicides of famous people are known as the “Werther Effect,” from a 17th century suicide fad among young Europeans who had read Goethe’s “The Sorrows of Young Werther,” whose protagonist shoots himself with a pistol. Historically, "experts" such as Karl Menninger, Sigmund Freud, and Emile Durkheim wrote about the copycat behavior being a factor with suicides. Today, the copycat effect is well-documented, despite your two "expert" debunkers.

This effect has been proven to have a factual basis in reality over and over again, and it is harmful articles such as this one that tends to continue the ignoring of the problem. For over twenty years, the federal government and various suicide prevention organizations have published "media guidelines" for reporting on suicides because the copycat effect is a fact.

The copycat effect is so predictive that after the wave of rampage shootings that began this year, I wrote this prediction in my Copycat Effect blog last Friday, March 18th, that we should expect a "series of school shootings from March 20th through April 20th...I hope not, but every indication is that the media is entering its first post-9/11 'shooting rampage' feeding frenzy, and as March nears its end, and into April, 'school shootings' could be next."

In my book, in my long chapter on school shootings, I also predicted the underlying factors that are at work - males, neo-Nazis, all
are suicidal youth, use of guns, the twilight use of dates such as April 19 (Oklahoma City bombing, Waco), April 20 (Hilter's birthday, Columbine), and April 26 (Hess's birthday, Erfurt school shooting). The media factor is at play here too, with the spillover any time you have a great deal of attention to workplace violence, such as experienced in Tyler, Texas-Chicago-Atlanta judge-courthouse shootings.

I hope someone at the Rocky Mountain News, someday, reads The Copycat Effect, and looks at what the real "experts" who have actually conducted studies of the issue say.

Keep the kids safe through awareness,
Loren Coleman, M.S.W.
Suicidologist, Consultant, Author

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Red Lake School Shooting Will Lead to More

After predicting on March 18th (see in this blog below) that we should expect a school shooting in the March 20-April 20 period, and seeing it come to pass, my hope is people are becoming more alert to what is unfolding here. I also was correct in noting in my book the warning signs we should be aware of in the shooter (neo-Nazi, male, use of guns, twilight language, suicidal). Perhaps we should even reexamine the overlooked focus on math classes in these shootings, from Moses Lake (1996) to Red Lake (2005). We must watch out for the full impact of the copycat effect from the Minnesota incident.

Already, more "hit list" stories are in the media today at a high school in Noble, Maine, at a high school in Biloxi, Mississippi, and at an elementary school in Shelby County, Kentucky.

American and international school shootings could follow in the near future, if the pre-9/11 pattern returns. Furthermore, I am warning be on the lookout around the high violence dates of April 19 (Waco and Oklahoma City bombing anniversaries) and April 20 (Hitler's birthday and Columbine). Law enforcement authorities have been aware of this "twilight calendar" for some years, and it is time for educators to wake up to it now. The copycat effect is real.

We are entering a dangerous temporal zone of death, and the best prevention, to do more active listening to teens who hear about hit lists and threats, combined with aggressive suicide interventions with the most vulnerable youth, are the keys to a safer time.

Remember, the underlying theme of all of these school shooters is that they have given up on any hope of a painless life, and wish to take some people with them in their final suicidal outbursts.

Korean Copycats Increase After Actress' Suicide

The Korean media is alerting us to a new wave of copycat suicides in the wake of a celebrity suicide, "Lee Eun-ju Sparks Copycat Suicide Craze."

Actress Lee Eun-ju hanged herself on February 22nd.

The article mentioned: "The Seoul Central Prosecutors Office said analysis of deaths in seven Seoul districts" from January through March 17th, "revealed that there were 2.13 suicides a day in the 23-day period after Lee’s suicide. This was 2.5 times the daily average of 0.84 during the 53-day period before Lee’s suicide."

"A woman in her 20s who hung herself in her room on the morning of March 1 told people around her that she had found a way to free herself from debt after learning of actress Lee Eun-ju’s suicide, police said."

Hanging had moved from 53% of the suicides to 80% of the deaths, with 14 of the 15 individuals in their 20s using the method of hanging. Clearly, behavior contagion and modeling are occurring in Korea. The article mentions the "Werther Effect," as the concept is clearly understand in Korea, and is realized as an important component in these suicides.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Unfortunately, School Shooting Prediction Can Occur

Sadly, the school shooting was no surprise to the readers of this blog, of last Friday, March 18th.

"...a possible series of school shootings from March 20th through April 20th could occur...I hope not, but every indication is that the media is entering its first post-9/11 'shooting rampage' feeding frenzy, and as March nears its end, and into April, 'school shootings' could be next."

I based this from an analysis of how the Werther (copycat) effect from other events (mall shootings, murder-suicides, courthouse shootings) spill over into school shootings, and the anniversary reality of the calendar.

In my book, The Copycat Effect
(NY: Simon and Schuster, 2004), I point out the youthful suicidal "school shooting" subculture uses the neo-Nazi calendar as a temporal roadmap. Columbine's and Erfurt, Germany's school shootings are the two most obvious examples.

This morning's Steve Karnowski-authored Associated Press story from Minnesota gives details on the alleged shooter's father who died by suicide, and the background of neo-Nazi information emerging about the boy who killed so many.

As I write in The Copycat Effect, the neo-Nazi underpinnings and the use of dates with twilight meanings (death dates and birth dates of Nazis) to these suicidal young males are significant components in past incidents. These elements are found once again in the Red Lake, Minnesota school shooting. There is evidence, once again, of this "school shooting" subculture overwhelming what would appear to be a strong cultural milieu, in this case, the Native American at Red Lake.

Now we must hold our breath to see if this event will trigger more school shootings, in the three-day, seven-day, and one-month copycat media cycle. I would look to especially April 19-20 as the next key dates, with attention being given for that entire April 18-26 time period.

Friday, March 18, 2005

2005's Red Danger Zone

All the warning signs are pointing to a possible series of school shootings from March 20th through April 20th. I hope not, but every indication is that the media is entering its first post-9/11 "shooting rampage" feeding frenzy, and as March nears its end, and into April, "school shootings" could be next.

I base this from an analysis of how the Werther (copycat) effect from other events (mall shootings, murder-suicides, courthouse shootings) spill over into school shootings, and the anniversary reality of the calendar. In my book, The Copycat Effect (NY: Simon and Schuster, 2004), I point out the youthful suicidal "school shooting" subculture uses the neo-Nazi calendar as a temporal roadmap. Columbine's and Erfurt, Germany's school shootings are the two most obvious examples.

[This is a reconstructed posting, due to it being deleted by accident.]


The above warning of March 18, 2005, was followed by the Red Lake event: Neo-Nazi/Native Jeff Weise, a 16-year-old student at Red Lake High School, killed nine people and then himself in the town of Red Lake, Minnesota, on Monday, March 21, 2005.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

A Month of Madness

The following is a summary of the multiple death "rampages" that have attracted wide media dissemination so far in 2005. Several of these are murder-suicide situations. The fingerprints of the copycat effect are all over these events - courthouses, judges, and then spillovers to other mass shootings.

March 12, 2005 - Total of eight dead, shooter kills self
Seven were shoot and killed, before the 45-year-old turned the gun on himself, at the Sheraton Hotel in Brookfield, Wisconsin, west of Milwaukee, during a regular service of the Living Church of God. The church is an offshoot of the Worldwide Church of God which was founded by American evangelist Herbert W. Armstrong in 1933.

March 11, 2005 - Total of four dead, shooter gives up to police.
A judge presiding over a rape trial, his court reporter and a sheriff's deputy are shot to death at the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta. The next morning, a US Customs agent is killed. Authorities say the suspect overpowered a sheriff's deputy and grabbed her gun. After a 26 hour manhunt, Brian Nichols surrenders on March 12.

February 28, 2005 - Total of three dead, shooter kills self
U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow finds her husband and mother shot to death in her Chicago home. Bart Ross, 57, who argued a case before Lefkow involving medical claims later shoots himself in a suicide in West Allis, Wisconsin, on March 9. Police identify Ross as the killer, and, in an unusual aside at their news conference, mention that West Allis is also known as the hometown of Jeffrey Dahmer.

February 25, 2005 - Total of three dead, shooter killed by police
David Hernandez Arroyo Sr., 43, angry about being sued for unpaid child support opened fire with an AK-47 assault rifle outside a Tyler, Texas, courthouse, killing his ex-wife and a man trying to help the couple's adult son. Arroyo was killed a few miles away in a shootout with police, in what may have been a "suicide by cop" event. Some officers received critical wounds.

February 23, 2005 - Total of three dead, attacker kills self
Clarence L. Moore, 24, an ex-soldier, who had a history of domestic violence, fatally stabbed his young son and his wife’s son with a hunting knife and wounded her three other children before taking his own life, in Columbus, Georgia. Clarence S. Moore, a 1-year-old who was Moore’s only birthchild with his wife, died from a cut to the throat. Stephan Moore, 2, died two hours later from stab wounds to his head, neck and back. Moore, who had slashed his own throat, died in surgery.

February 20, 2005 - Total of five dead, shooter kills self
Alicia Renae Smith, 27, her boyfriend, Robert Carmickle, 38, and her two children, Mathew Scott Smith, 5, and Angelia Reanne Smith, 4, were killed by her estrangled husband, Lee Smith, 36, in Loogootee, Indiana. He was walking a few blocks away when he fatally shot himself as an officer approached a short time later, police said.

February 13, 2005 - None killed, shooter arrested
Robert Bonelli Jr., 24, of Glasco, New York, fires 60 rounds with an AK-47 assault rifle at the Hudson Valley Mall, in Ulster, New York. Two people were badly wounded; one man, a U.S. National Guard recruiter, reportedly may lose his leg. Authorities searched the suspect's room and turned up a cache of "Columbine memorabilia." The shrine included media accounts and other information about the Colorado shooting spree by two students, 17 and 18, on April 20, 1999, that left 15 people dead. Bonelli would have been 19 in 1999.

That was just in the last month. Of course, right before the mall shooting, all was not quiet, as we have noted in this blog.

January 27, 2005 - Total of 11 dead, suicidal man arrested
On this Wednesday, January 27, 2005, at around 6 a.m. Pacific Time, Juan Manuel Alvarez, 25, of Compton, California, parked his Jeep Grand Cherokee on the Metrolink tracks at Glenville and got out before a train smashed into it. Alvarez told police that he was going to kill himself. The train crashed and resulted in 11 dead and 180 people injured. News that this was a suicide attempt flooded the media by the afternoon of the derailment. Reports that the SUV was a Jeep were widely disseminated.

January 27, 2005 - Total of 2 dead, shooter kills self
Later on that same Wednesday, January 27, at about 8:45 p.m. Central Time, an employee, Myles Meyers, at a Jeep Liberty production plant in Toledo, Ohio, using a shotgun, went on a shooting rampage with a double-barrel shotgun and then killed himself. Three were targeted, with two reported dead, including the shooter.

January 11, 2005 - Total of five killed, shooter arrested
On Tuesday, January 11, 2005, David Lynn Jordan reportedly killed five and injured two people at the Tennessee Department of Transportation maintenance garage. The victims included his estrangled wife, Donna Renee Jordan, 31, of Jackson, Tennessee Department of Transportation clerk; David Gordon, 41, of Medina, HCI Supply warehouse manager; Jerry Hopper, 61, of Enville, Tennessee Department of Agriculture Forestry Division employee, who were all killed. Larry Taylor, 54, and James Goff, 53, both TDOT garage employees, were injured.

Monday, February 14, 2005

A Mall Shooting Getting Valentine's Day Media Attention

It happened in Ulster. But not Ulster in Ireland, Ulster in New York State, near Kingston, about 90 miles north of New York City. Around 3:15 p.m. on the Sunday afternoon of February 13, 2005, a 24 year old man, fully dressed in black, opened fire with an AK-47 assault rifle at a Best Buy store, then went into the rest of the Hudson Valley Mall, walking towards the center court, firing the whole time. Two or three people were hurt, with one man (a recruiter for the U.S. National Guard) who was shot in the leg and arm, in critical condition late Sunday night. He may lose his arm from the injury. The 24-year-old alleged gunman is under arrest, the motive in the incident not clear in first media accounts. It ended suddenly, when he appeared to give up, according to WABC news. The news accounts casually end with this note: "The mall... will be reopened by tomorrow afternoon."

The gunman was later identified as Robert Bonelli Jr. of Glasco, New York. In Glasco, police and FBI agents swarmed Bonelli's Liberty Street home. Two employees from Dick's Sporting Goods were involved in subduing him after he had thrown down his weapon, according to Hudson Valley's Times Herald-Record.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Valentine's Day Suicide Pact Leader Arrested

On February 11, 2005, sheriff's deputies in Klamath Falls, Oregon, arrested Gerald Krein on charges that he attempted to solicit 32 people in the United States and Canada to commit murder, mostly through suicide. Using chat rooms, Krein allegedly convinced over thirty people to kill themselves and others. Investigators said the case came to light when a woman in Canada told them that she'd planned to take part in the mass suicide but then had second thoughts when another chat room follower talked about killing herself and her two children, the Associated Press reported.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Nine die in two separate group suicides in Japan

On Saturday, February 5, 2005, Japanese police found nine people in two separate group suicides. The deaths by suicide were by inhaling carbon monoxide, via charcoal burners and sleeping pills. The reports indicate that in one incident, six people, three men and three women mostly aged in their 20s, were found in a rented minivan parked on a farm road on the scenic peninsula of Miura at the mouth of Tokyo Bay. A few hours later, the bodies of one man and two women, in their 30s and 40s, were found in a rented sedan on the grounds of a villa on a Pacific coast in Higashi Izu, some 100 kilometres south-west of Tokyo.
Police found several charcoal burners inside the two vehicles.

"The two separate cases appear to be the latest in a string of such group suicides using traditional terracotta charcoal burners in Japan, many of which have involved strangers who met over the Internet to die together. The charcoal burner is rarely used in modern living in Japan except at traditional-style Japanese or Korean restaurants. Nearly 50 people have died in similar suicides since early October," notes the overseas accounts.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Suicidal Man in Jeep Cherokee Causes Train Derailment, then Jeep Workplace Shooting Rampage

In California, on Wednesday, January 27, 2005, at around 6 a.m. Pacific Time, Juan Manuel Alvarez, 25, of Compton, Calif., parked his Jeep Grand Cherokee on the Metrolink tracks at Glenville and got out before a train smashed into it. Alvarez told police that he was going to kill himself. The train crashes resulted in 11 dead, one missing woman, and 180 people injured. News that this was a suicide attempt flooded the media by the afternoon of the derailment. Reports that the SUV was a Jeep were widely disseminated.

Later on Wednesday at about 8:45 p.m. Central Time, an employee, Myles Meyers, at a Jeep Liberty production plant in Toledo, Ohio, using a shotgun, went on a shooting rampage with a double-barrel shotgun and then killed himself. Three were identified to be shoot, with two reported dead, including the shooter.

Both stories received massive media attention (along with a helicopter crashing in Iraq with 31 military personnel being killed) on January 27-28.

On November 6, 2004, the UK experienced a commuter rail crash involving a car on the tracks. It was later determined that was a death by suicide.

Will there be more copycats?

Monday, January 17, 2005

Korea media links Werther effect to rise in suicides

The Boston Globe of January 17, 2005, is commenting on the rise of suicides in South Korea and their ties to the Werther effect.

Rampages in the News

Rampages are in the news in mid-January 2005.

On Sunday, January 9, 2005, first media reports out of Ceres, California, told of a soldier having gone on a rampage. A police officer and the shooter were killed and another police officer wounded. The shooter was Andres Raya, 19, a decorated Marine who served a seven-month tour in Iraq. Later news stories questioned where or not Raya was a gang member. None looked into the "suicide by cop" angle.

On Tuesday, January 11, 2005, David Lynn Jordan reportedly killed five and injured two people at the Tennessee Department of Transportation maintenance garage. The victims included his estrangled wife, Donna Renee Jordan, 31, of Jackson, Tennessee Department of Transportation clerk; David Gordon, 41, of Medina, HCI Supply warehouse manager; Jerry Hopper, 61, of Enville, Tennessee Department of Agriculture Forestry Division employee, who were all killed. Larry Taylor, 54, and James Goff, 53, both TDOT garage employees, were injured.

On Sunday, January 16, 2005, a police officer went on a shooting rampage at the popular Ati-atihan religious festival in Kalibo, Aklan, Philippines, killing five other policemen and a child before he himself was shot dead. The shooter was Police Officer Jonathan Moreño, bodyguard of Aklan provincial Chief Supt. Odelardo Magallanes, who started shooting at the height of the Ati-Atihan Festival. Among those killed were Magallanes and the Kalibo police chief, Insp. Manuel Elijay Jr., two other policemen and a 10-year-old girl, Jo-velyn Cuales. At least 33 other people were wounded.