Sunday, April 05, 2009

A Week Of Body Counts

I predicted an increasing build-up in copycat activity as the calendar ticks off days moving towards April 20, 2009, the tenth anniversary of Columbine.

Here's the week that just was (click on the dates for full details):

Saturday, March 27.

A 23-year-old beheads his younger sister Bianca, 5, and kills Samantha Revelus, 17, at their home in Milton, Massachusetts. The killer is killed by police officers.

Sunday, March 29.

Seven patients and a nurse were killed during a Sunday morning shooting at a Carthage, North Carolina, nursing home. The 45-year-old man accused of carrying out the attack was shot by a police officer, and his condition "is currently unknown."

Friday, April 3.

A 41-year-old gunman barricaded the back door of a community center with his car and then opened fire on a room full of immigrants taking a citizenship class Friday, killing 13 people before dying by suicide, in Binghamton, New York.

Saturday, April 4.

The bodies of five children between the ages of 7 and 16 years old and their father were found dead in separate locations south of Seattle, near Orting, Washington State on Saturday. The father apparently killed his children before dying by suicide near a casino some distance away from their home.

Three Pittsburgh police officers responding to a domestic-disturbance call on the morning of Saturday, were killed when a man, who is hiding and waiting, armed with an AK-47, opened fire on them.

Other very recent shootings include these:

A gunman (pictured above) killed 10 people and himself in Samson, Alabama; shootings that began with a traffic stop in Oakland, California, left four police officers and the gunman dead; an apparent murder-suicide in Santa Clara, California, left six dead. At an Illinois church, a man shot and killed the pastor and stabbed two parishioners, and a 17-year-old (below) in Germany killed 15 people in two small towns before dying in a shootout with police.

Updates: It appears I'm not the only one with the notion that an overview is in order. Thanks to Patrick Huyghe who told me about "No End In Sight," after I wrote the above.

Another overview article has been published on Monday: "Deadly Rampages Rack the Nation," Wall Street Journal, April 6, 2009.

Yet another such long discussion has been published, and it notes the role of the media and other factors.

The AP detailed it this way, later on April 5th:

A string of shootings in the U.S. in the last month alone has claimed the lives of 53 people:
_MARCH 10, SAMSON, Ala. — A gunman kills 10 people and commits suicide in a rampage that spanned two dozen miles across the southern Alabama countryside. Police say Michael McLendon had struggled to keep a job and left behind lists of employers and co-workers he believed had wronged him.
_MARCH 22, OAKLAND, Calif. — A man pulled over in a routine traffic stop fatally shoots two officers and then kills two more in a gunfight in which the suspect was also killed. Relatives say Lovelle Mixon, 26, had been frustrated about not finding work and feared returning to jail.
_MARCH 29, SANTA CLARA, Calif. — A man shoots and kills his two children and three other relatives, then kills himself at a family housewarming party in an upscale neighborhood. Investigators don't yet know the motive of Devan Kalathat, a 42-year-old engineer at Yahoo.
_MARCH 29, CARTHAGE, N.C. — A man opens fire in a nursing home and kills seven elderly residents and a nurse who cared for them. Investigators say Robert Stewart, 45, apparently had targeted an estranged wife, a nurse's assistant who escaped by hiding in a bathroom.
_APRIL 3, BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — A gunman bursts into an immigrant center and kills 13 people before killing himself. Police say Jiverly Wong, a 41-year-old Vietnamese immigrant, was apparently upset about losing his job and about people picking on him for his limited English.
_APRIL 4, PITTSBURGH — A gunman wearing a bulletproof vest opens fire on officers responding to a domestic disturbance call, killing three of them. Police say Richard Poplawski, 23, had been upset about losing his job and feared the Obama administration was poised to ban guns.
_APRIL 4, GRAHAM, Wash. — A man fatally shoots his five children in their mobile home and then takes his own life in his car miles away. Relatives identified the father as James Harrison. A motive was not yet known.

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Bladerunner said...

I've been tracking this nightmare on my page this week as well. Seems like something not-quite-random is happening here. Can't quite nail it down yet.

Laura said...

Bladerunner's absolutely right - something is happening.

the economy is going down the tubes, people are faced with layoffs and foreclosures, and everywhere the mood is bad. people are stressed, depressed, and more likely to lash out. it's almost reasonable that otherwise-sane individuals are taking this route.

Doubting Thomas said...

You seem to have missed one Loren:

TOULOUSE, France - A woman who thought she was the devil killed her elderly mother with a crucifix and other objects in the French Catholic pilgrimage town Lourdes, officials and press reports said Wednesday.

The 34-year-old beat her 81-year-old mother with "objects that were within her reach, a bedside lamp, slats from her bed," the local prosecutor told AFP, adding that she had now been interned in a psychiatric hospital.

The Depeche du Midi newspaper said she had grabbed one of the many crucifixes adorning their apartment in the southwestern town and used it along with other objects to beat her mother to death overnight Monday.

The paper said she had told police: "I had visions in a dream. I saw that I was the devil, that I was evil."

After the murder, the woman called the emergency medical services and was found by them covered in blood and lying at the foot of the bed in which her dead mother lay, officials said.

I'm from Pittsburgh, and each and every news story about the guy who ambushed the 3 cops ends with a mention of the shooter's belief in the impending governmental confiscation of firearms.

I've heard this story repeated ad nauseum by rightward leaning co-workers since Obama's election. They seem to sincerely believe that the US Army is undertaking gaming exercises where the Army is practicing for the removal of guns from the "homes of average Americans."This is being fueled, to a large degree, by talk radio, the internet, and folk like Glen Beck who are calling for a "2nd American Revolution."

I think we'll see much more of this melding of conspiracy theory, partisan politics, and mass murder in the coming months as the economy teeters and teeters.

Doubting Thomas said...

I should also mention the shooter's alleged support of both Alex Jones and the neo-Nazi Stormfront website.
Which opens up many other cans of worms, doesn't it?

I should also mention that the Pittsburgh Police are currently engaged in another shooting where SWAT was dispatched. Details are very sketchy, but if your Copycat theory is true, does the tendency to copycat appear more likely in close geographic quarters?

Loren Coleman said...

"Does the tendency to copycat appear more likely in close geographic quarters?"

Most definitely.

This "mirroring" frequently takes place in the same geographic area.

Also, it is reflected in the specific repeats of types of setting, the similar population as targets, copycat forms of the methods, and most certainly in terms of an identification between the "shooters."

In waves like the one we are experiencing, the general "random" nature of the events overwhelm the media, but the underlying common elements are there.

I would not be surprised to see similar "situations" occurring in any of the same locations that have recently had mass shootings. Whether they progress to the point of completed killings and suicides, oftentimes, does not happen, due to the heightened level of awareness and responses you will see occurring very specifically in those repeat sites.

The Secret Sun said...

Here's some info on the Pittsburgh shooter. It's from Kos, so take it for what it's worth.

I'm horrified and disgusted by the Milton incident- that was a block away from my old church (the only place from my childhood of which I have happy memories) and my grandmother worked at Tucker.

What's up with religious fanatics and beheading, anyway?

The Secret Sun said...

Loren, don't forget to let everyone know that no excuses should ever be made for violent criminals and killers. There is nothing more demeaning to victims of violent crime than to hear excuses made for their perpetrators. The media is not blame, society is not to blame, religion is not to blame, the CIA is not to blame- the criminal is to blame. No exceptions, ever.

Loren Coleman said...

The "copycat effect" is a tool to prevention, awareness, and alertness. It is one piece of the decoding of the twilight language, but as Christopher Knowles is alluding to, in my deeper talks, workshops, consultations, and writings, I make it clear that the ultimate responsibility rests on the shoulders of one person - the individual who is turning his suicidal rage outward in the usually homicidal-suicidal outcome we see graphically played before our eyes, to serve as tomorrow's model for more.

Therese said...


A mother shoots her son and herself at a firing range in the US. The mother’s name is Marie Moore, the son’s name is Mitchell Moore. I do not know anything about their backgrounds, except that they are white Americans.

Therese said...

In addition to Doubting Thomas' informative post about the Lourdes crucifix murder - an update.

The killer, known only as "Elizabeth", is now dead as well. She was found dead, from unknown causes, in the cell of a psychiatric hospital in Lannemazan, where she had been detained. The results of the autopsy have not been released.

Therese said...

Keeping up on the news.

French soldier kills four in Chad shooting spree

April 8, 2009

NDJAMENA (AFP) - European peacekeepers were hunting for a "deranged" French Foreign Legion officer who fled after going on a shooting spree in Chad, killing two comrades, a Togolese UN soldier and a farmer.

The shootings began Tuesday at Camp des Etoiles, the main base of the European peacekeepers near the airport in the eastern town of Abeche near the Sudan border, a French military official said.

"Gunshots were heard in the (military) camp and then the two legionnaires were found and then a little further away the body of the Togolese soldier was discovered," said Captain Christophe Prazuck.

The soldier, an officer he described as "deranged", opened fire around 2:00 pm (1300 GMT) with his service weapon and then fled ...

Daurade said...

I followed the story of the "crucifix killer" in my blog, basically translating a few articles into English from the Dêpeche du Midi. The Dêpeche published four stories in all. After the young killer was found dead at the foot of her bed in a psychiatric hospital, the paper reported that autopsy results were forthcoming.

Oddly, no subsequent articles have been published in the Dêpeche or any French newspaper as far as I can tell. Not to imply there's been some sort of cover-up or anything, but I find it very strange there hasn't been any follow-up to the last twist in the sad story....

Daurade said...

After posting this I decided to check once again to make sure I wasn't mistaken and came across this

Les résultats de l'autopsie sont formels: "Les causes de la mort de cette femme sont naturelles. Elle ne s'est pas suicidée et n'a subi aucune violence" nous confie le procureur de Tarbes ce mercredi, sans en dire plus.

De quoi est-elle donc décédée?


"Je n'en dirai pas plus" conclut, sur Le Post, le procureur de Tarbes.

Basically, the formal autopsy results conclude she didn't commit suicide nor did she succumb to any violence. Rather, she died of natural causes. What natural causes, exactly, are not defined.

So. My initial post was wrong, but upon finding this follow-up still find the brevity and lack of detail odd. The woman was left alone for two hours then discovered dead. No suicide or violence, nothing to see here, please move along. Sweep sweep sweep.

Sad tale.