Monday, February 27, 2006

More West Coast Rampages in March-April?

I read with interest Carlos Castano's article on the school shooting in Roseburg on Thursday, February 23, 2006.

The KVAL journalist wrote that he interviewed an expert who said that he does not see "this one" having anything to do with "Thurston." And that those in Oregon should feel safe.

I would have to disagree. Oregon should NOT let its guard down, especially now. From my study of school suicide clusters, workplace rampages, and school shootings for over 25 years, that expert's kind of approach ignores what actually happens before and after a school shooting.

What may be more important to what occurred in Roseburg is the general returning climate for shooting rampages in this country. The January 30, 2006, incident where USPS ex-employee Jennifer Sanmarco in Santa Barbara, CA, killed seven and then herself, may have more to do with the recent Oregon event, of course, but the legacy of Thurston is in the background. The California "going postal" rampage was then followed by the gay bar incident in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and the police shootout in Arkansas, followed by the killer's murder-suicide in his car.

Take for example, the incident of May 21, 1998, when Kip Kinkel shot and killed two fellow Thurston High School students. Any analysis needs to be done in context.

Please note what else was taking place around the time of the Springfield, Oregon:

March 24, 1998
Jonesboro, Arkansas. Four students and one teacher killed by Mitchell Johnson, 13, and Andrew Golden, 11, who shot at their classmates and teachers from the woods. Ten other students were wounded outside as Westside Middle School emptied during a false fire alarm.

April 17, 1998
Near Dallas, Texas. One person was killed in a "going postal" workplace rampage shooting at the Northhaven postal facility.

April 24, 1998
Edinboro, Pennsylvania. One teacher, John Gillette, was killed, two students wounded at a dance at James W. Parker Middle School. Andrew Wurst, 14, was charged.

May 19, 1998
Fayetteville, Tennessee. One student was killed in the parking lot at Lincoln County High School three days before he was to graduate. The victim was dating the ex-girlfriend of his killer, 18-year-old honor student Jacob Davis.

May 21, 1998
Springfield, Oregon. Two students killed, 22 others wounded in the cafeteria at Thurston High School by 15-year-old Kip Kinkel. His parents were later found dead at home.

My further investigations revealed that two other school shootings happen that day.

From my book, The Copycat Effect, following my discussion of the Springfield, Oregon shooting, I write:

"On the same day, May 21, 1998, 200 miles due north, at the end of the school day, Miles Fox, 15, a student of Onalaska High School, Onalaska, Washington, took a young woman hostage from his bus to his home, and died by suicide from a shot to his head. As the story aired on radio and television, Ricardo Martin, 15, shot himself with a .38 caliber pistol and died on the campus of Rialto High School, in Rialto, California."

The events happening earlier on May 21, in Springfield, Oregon, had been all over the radio, Internet, and news channels constantly, all day.

Thank goodness there were no fatalities in the Roseburg incident. But here's my concern and prediction: Since the void in the regular workplace and school shooting cycle for the one year after 9/11, we are returning to the routine pattern in fatal shooting incidents and near fatal school shootings. The typical pattern of shootings in March and April is predictable, and often mirrors a location trend. So European shootings followed each other, April followed April, and then Minnesota followed Minnesota. Will more Oregon shootings follow this Roseburg event, and occur in the near future? I would not let the words of anyone saying "school shootings in Oregon are rare" make people feel safe.

Fatal school shootings:
April 26, 2002
Erfurt, Germany
April 29, 2002
Vlasenica, Bosnia-Herzegovina
April 24, 2003
Red Lion, Pa.
Sept. 24, 2003
Cold Spring, Minn.
Sept. 28, 2004
Carmen de Patagones, Argentina
March 21, 2005
Red Lake, Minn.

Oregon is not out of the woods yet.

Indeed, look for more rampages on the West Coast in March-April 2006.

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