The alternative title for this blog is "Brokaw Blames Blogs." Read on, for more about that.
The twilight language of the copycat killers is initially only vaguely revealed in the media accounts. The news organizations' first reactions are ones of sensationalism and pop-psychology, often in ways that may trigger the next rage-filled killing spree.
Only through more reasoned pondering may some deeper meanings be known. The "connect the dots" deciphering of these shooters exposes their symbolism from the cult of Columbine, which may assist as a source of future prediction and prevention.
"I'm gonna be (expletive) famous." - Robert A. Hawkins.
It does not take much analysis to understand that the Omaha mall killer figured he was creating a page for himself in infamy. We know not what influence the Omaha attention had on the shooter of four at Arvada, Colorado's Youth With a Mission center, where two staff members have been left dead, on Sunday, December 9, 2007. Or now at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, 70 miles away on the same day.
It is too early to really know what Robert A. Hawkins was thinking, as if we ever will, for his major goal was suicide. But as I've written often, the new suicide model for school shooters, mall killers, and rampage murderers is to take people with them as they race to their own deaths, either by their own hands or by "suicide by cops."
"I just want to take a few peices [sic] of (expletive) with me....Just think tho I'm gonna be (expletive) famous." - Robert A. Hawkins, in his suicide note to his friends.
Therefore, underneath all the media-driven Robert Hawkins biographical profiles' of him going in and out of state wardship, foster homes, and treatment centers, it is what was his experience of his life that counts. And his concept of dying.
How do the Hawkins' dots connect to Columbine? No one really knows, but I felt the need to record some of the following hints, before they vanish from the record.
As Robert A. Hawkins goes through the Omaha mall he is shown wearing what appears to be a black tee-shirt underneath a black hooded sweatshirt ~ the Columbine death cult uniform, if you will.
"It shows Hawkins as he walks into Von Maur, wearing a stocking cap and an unzipped, blackhooded sweat shirt over a black Jack Daniels T-shirt. A design on the sweat shirt appears to be the logo that is shared by skateboarder and MTV personality Bam Margera and the Finnish alternative rock band HIM. The band played Sokol Auditorium the day before Halloween." (Source: Omaha World Herald, "Von Maur's cameras show Hawkins toting AK-47," by Lynn Safranek, December 7, 2007).
The group HIM did perform at the Sokol Auditorium in Omaha, on Tuesday, October 30, 2007, at 8:00 PM. (Source: Ticketmaster records.)
HIM is a rock band from Finland formed in 1991 by vocalist Ville Valo, guitarist Mikko Lindström, and bassist Mikko Paananen. They have released six full length albums to date. As of 2007, they are the first and only Finnish rock band to go Gold in the United States.
Apparently, the Omaha World Herald has seen on the Hawkins's sweatshirt the HIM heartagram, which is their trademarked symbol, best described as a combination of a heart and an inverted pentacle (love & hate), created by Ville Valo the day after his twentieth birthday.
"According to Ville Valo, lead vocalist for Finnish rockers HIM, 'It's very hard to sing about sunshine and ice cream and birds in fast cars.' So he doesn't even try. Instead, song titles like 'Cyanide Sun', 'Dead Lovers' Lane', and 'Song or Suicide' populate his band's latest CD, Venus Doom. The 30-year-old Valo discovered his affinity for the darker side of rock as a kid, when he heard a few bars of Blue Oyster Cult's '(Don't Fear) the Reaper' while watching John Carpenter's Halloween....[In 1999, HIM] scored a breakthrough hit in Germany with the single 'Join Me in Death'. Like 'Reaper' before it, that song drew flak from folks who believed it glamorized suicide. (Source: Music Features by Steve Newton, November 8, 2007.)
No one knows what the influence of the Finnish group HIM's music was on Robert A. Hawkins, but that, in some ways, is not the point. It reflected an insight into how he viewed the world.
Intriguingly, are there any dots that connect from this music to the Finnish school shooter Pekka-Eric Auvinen? Auvinen (a/k/a NaturalSelector89, Natural Selector, Sturmgeist89 and Sturmgeist), also wrote in his "press release" that he was using the "pseydonym Eric von Auffoin internationally."
As I point out on this blog on December 6th, the Omaha mall shooting came exactly one calendar month after the school shooting in Finland, which was exactly one calendar month after the school shooting in Cleveland, Ohio. The last three months, remarkably, therefore, have had precisely four weeks to the day between each of these dangerous Wednesdays.
Pekka-Eric Auvinen uploaded a home-made video entitled "Jokela High School Massacre - 11/7/2007" to YouTube announcing the "massacre" hours prior to the shooting. KMFDM's "Stray Bullet" was used as background music. Many of his videos were about other shootings and violent incidents, including the Columbine High School massacre, the Waco Siege, the Tokyo sarin gas attack, and bombing during the Iraq invasion.
Auvinen left a media package on Rapidshare, a hosting site, explaining his actions and his motives for the shooting. It includes details of the attack, a manifesto, his "loves & hates," some images of himself and a video of him firing a handgun. "I am prepared to fight and die for my cause," read a posting by Sturmgeist. "I, as a natural selector, will eliminate all who I see unfit, disgraces of human race and failures of natural selection." Sturmgeist means "storm spirit" in German. His words sound chillingly like the Omaha mall shooter and the Virginia Tech killer. It is a mindset we have grown, unfortunately, to know.
Various media outlets pointed out the similarities between and inspirations for Auvinen's actions in the Columbine shootings. Auvinen's YouTube videos included footage related to Columbine. The KMFDM track used in his video, "Stray Bullet," was also used on the website of Columbine shooter Eric Harris.
"Police said material seized from the computer of Pekka-Eric Auvinen suggests the 18-year-old communicated online with Dillon Cossey, 14, who was arrested in October  for allegedly preparing a possible attack at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School in suburban Philadelphia. Tipped off by a boy Cossey tried to recruit, Pennsylvania authorities searched his home last month. They found guns, swords, knives, a bomb-making book, and videos of the 1999 Columbine attack." (Source: San Jose, California, Mercury News,, November 13, 2007.)
School shooter Dillon Cossey "recognized the screen name and recalled having contact by email," said J. David Farrell, who represents Cossey, 14, of Plymouth Valley, Pennsylvania. Farrell said Cossey was "very distressed" to learn that Pekka-Eric Auvinen, 18, of Tuusula, Finland, had gunned down six students, a nurse and the principal at his high school, located about 30 miles north of Helsinki. Auvinen then killed himself. Cossey told Farrell that Auvinen "gave no indication he was going to do anything violent," and that Cossey "offered nothing in the way of encouragement" to pursue violence.
The teens shared an interest in a video game called "Hitman," Farrell said, adding that they may have also had a mutual obsession with Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the students responsible for the Columbine massacre. (Source: "Teen charged with Plymouth plot communicated with Finnish shooter," Philadelphia Inquirer,, November 12, 2007.)
The movie Hitman based on the videogame was released on November 21, 2007. It was not a commercial success.
"Not only were Dillon Cossey and Pekka-Eric Auvinen YouTube buddies but it seems they belonged to the same pro-Columbine groups on MySpace. Police do not believe this to have been a coincidence. The two youths are thought to have made contact over two MySpace groups, 'RIP Eric and Dylan' — a reference to Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who killed 12 schoolmates at Columbine — and 'Natural Selection'." (Source: The Times, London, November 10, 2007.)
The links are there, the warning signs were all over the place, and awareness still is the key.
Am I agreeing with recent comments by a famed newsman that such things are to blame for the actions of these young men? Actually, no, for all I am pointing out are signs that seem covertly to be available for us to read. Tom Brokaw's "blame-game" is more direct, if slightly off-base in its reasoning.
In the recent interview between talk radio host Hugh Hewitt and Brokaw, the exchange occurred.
Brokaw incredibly said about Cho: "It was not what he, what people saw of him on the air that will drive them, it’s what they read in blog sites, and what they see in video games. It’s that kind of stuff that I think is cancerous."
While broadcaster Tom Brokaw blames blogs and the video games, it is time to realize that it is an incorrect decision such as made by NBC to broadcast the hate-filled video "media press release" of Virginia Tech killer Cho Seung Hui, which goes to reinforce the next round of shootings. Next spring 2008 may not be a pleasant time at college campuses, as vulnerable suicidal youth prepare their media packets and plan attacks based on the celebrity of Cho.
But Brokaw appears blind to this.
HH: The Times of London noted just a couple of weeks ago after the berserk shooting in, I think it was Norway (actually it was Finland), that the pictures the man left of himself were eerily reminiscent of the Virginia Tech shooter, and raised the possibility that the NBC decision had incentivized him.
TB: Now that’s their speculation… But I can pick anything that goes on, and say that was a copycat crime of some kind… You’re really indicting a network and saying if there’s some kind of a mass murder, NBC’s going to be responsible…
HH: Does what appears on television influence people, is what we’re asking, and I think it does, quite decidedly.
TB: I think it’s not just television. What I said earlier is what we ought to be addressing, the whole fabric of the place of violence in our society…
The broadcast media spokespeople such as Brokaw have had a difficult time understanding that they are part of the problem, and not merely observers.
"I'm gonna be (expletive) famous." - Robert A. Hawkins.
The VA Tech killer didn't send his video press packet to a website or a video game company. He had it express delivered to NBC News.
"Fame" as a motivator should be addressed as well. A generation of young people have been repeatedly told that they're each special individuals. The prospect of going through life as one of the crowd has become unacceptable, and calling someone ordinary has become an insult. I have often heard young people remark with a kind of desperation that they want to be "remembered" or that they want to "make their mark" meaning that they want to be "famous". We are so media saturated, that some young people feel that being televised or written about is the only measure of worth and remembrance - the only proof that they are really special.
I have no background in this stuff other than as an observer (thank God) and I'm much too old to be a follower of the current "kiddie trends" however destructive or benign.
Do you, who have analyzed this problem for years, feel that guidelines for the press, such as reporting the news without
revealing the identity of the attacker, would help?
If so can you see any chance of persuading the mass media to adopt such a policy?
There appears to be little doubt about the "copy-cat" nature of many of these crimes. So, it seems that an agreement not to give publicity to the criminals would be a positive step.
I'm not sure if you've seen this but a screenshot was taken of Cho Seung-Hui's rant on TV and it was transcribed, and it confirms your theory: he mailed the package to NBC specifically in order to set off copycat shootings.
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