After the release of my 2004 Simon and Schuster book, The Copycat Effect, I was ridiculed by mainstream media for pointing to rising data that was clearly indicating a reinforcement of a probable violent future.
Today, mass shootings, school shootings, and related forms of violence are routine in America.
This weekend, mass media stories are appearing noting that in the first 14 days of 2014, there have been seven school shootings, an average of one every other day. A simplistic and perhaps slightly inaccurate summary, but the stat is remarkably close to the truth, if we restrict the timeframe to the first 14 school days of the year.
Based upon a survey of small media markets about various forms of mass shootings, it appears that the frequency of these events may be higher than that quick media statistic would lead us to believe.
Here's what I've seen in the news:
A 17-year-old student was wounded Thursday in a shooting at a Jackson high school, and another student was taken into custody, police said.
The 17-year-old was shot once in the left thigh outside of Liberty Technology Magnet High School and was taken by ambulance to Jackson-Madison County General Hospital, where he was listed in stable condition. The shooting occurred at the front of the school at 2:21 p.m., a few minutes after dismissal time. Officials said the suspect left campus in a car. He was taken into custody about 30 minutes after the shooting.
Police took a 16-year-old Liberty student into custody at his grandmother's house on Cotton Grove Road in east Madison County.
The names of the victim and the suspect have not been released.
Not a school shooting, but a movie theater shooting made the news on this Monday. Curtis Reeves, Jr., 71, a retired Tampa Police Captain was arrested and held without bail for shooting a man and his wife after an apparent argument over texting while at a Wesley Chapel, Florida, movie theater.
At the Monday afternoon showing of the film Lone Survivor, Reeves and his wife were sitting behind another couple, Chad and Nicole Oulson, watching the previews, when Reeves became agitated with Chad for texting before the movie began.
At the Wesley Chapel-January 13th screening of Lone Survivor an argument broke out between the couples, popcorn was thrown, after which Reeves reportedly left the theater, came back, took out a gun and fired at Oulson and his wife. Officials said Nicole tried to block the bullet, resulting in a gunshot wound to her hand, before Chad was struck. And killed.
Roswell, Chaves County, New Mexico ~
The injured were a 13-year-old girl and a 12-year-old boy who were "simply sitting in their gym waiting to go to class," New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez said. The shooting occurred shortly before class was to begin at Berrendo Middle School.
The Eastern New Mexico Medical Center confirmed it treated two patients, who were then air lifted to the University Medical Center in Lubbock, Texas, located about 175 miles from the middle school.
A spokesperson for UMC said the boy, who the governor said was 12, is out of surgery and is listed in critical condition. The girl, 13, is also being treated at the hospital and is listed in serious condition, according to the spokesperson. A school staff member suffered a minor injury and declined treatment.
A hidden-camera TV news story on security at St. Louis schools led to a Thursday afternoon lockdown at Kirkwood High and a flurry of complaints by angry parents.
A KSDK-TV reporter visited four elementary schools and the St. Louis County high school without identifying himself as a journalist. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Kirkwood students and teachers were huddled in classrooms with the lights off for about 40 minutes Thursday after a man came into the school and asked to speak with security, then left.
The station defended its reporting in a statement broadcast Thursday night before its news report on school security lapses. The statement noted that the lockdown didn't happen until one hour after the reporter left Kirkwood High.
In Elkhart, Indiana, Shawn Walter Bair, 22, killed an employee, Krystle Dikes, and a shopper, Rachelle Godfread, at the Martin's Super Market on January 15th, Wednesday night.
Albany, Dougherty County, Georgia ~
Logan, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania ~
Schulenburg, Fayette County, Texas:
Miguel Mejia-Ramos returned to his Queens, New York home on Sunday, January 19, and rifled through his wife's phone and Facebook account. He found an image of her with another man. He grabbed a knife from a butcher block and stood over his sleeping wife, Deisy Garcia, 21, and two daughters 2 and 1. He stabbed all of them to death. Mejia-Ramos fled in a white van, driving south to Texas. Authorities in Fayette County, Texas, say the suspect, who goes by at least one other name, was located Monday night, January 20th, after he turned on his cellphone. Authorities were able to track his location and arrest him at a vehicle roadblock on Interstate 10 in Schulenburg, Texas. The location is about 1,700 miles from New York.
A school shooting, happening near the athletic center of Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania, left one student in the hospital. The shooting put the campus on lockdown Monday night. The student was shot in the side while sitting in a car. The suspect remains on the run.
Fayetteville, Cumberland County, North Carolina:
A 19-year-old man wanted for questioning in Fayetteville's first two homicides of 2014 turned himself in Wednesday evening.
Family members surrounded Albert Lamont Jackson, 19, of 3521 Seawell St. in Fayetteville, as he surrendered to police. Jackson was wanted for questioning in the murders of Manuel Sampeur, 25, and Pamela Ann Coe, 40, who were both found dead inside a residence at the Cambridge Arms Apartments on Monday.
Jackson, who had active warrants for assault with a deadly weapon, simple assault and communication of threats, was transported to the Cumberland County Detention Center.
The 19-year-old was the second person wanted in connection with the double homicide. Rashawn Javonte Hill, 17, was arrested Tuesday night after firing a shotgun at police.
Authorities arrived at 3611 Pickerel St. at about 11 p.m. to speak with Hill about the killings. As Fayetteville police and Cumberland County deputies entered the home, they heard a shotgun being racked from a rear bedroom. Hill then fired a single round as authorities walked down the hallway, police said. A Fayetteville police detective fired one shot at Hill. No one was hit.
Officers immediately retreated from the home and established a perimeter to ensure Hill did not escape. Hill was taken into custody without incident after authorities convinced him to surrender.
Purdue University Police Chief John Cox said Cody Mark Cousins, 23, of Centerville, Ohio, and Warsaw, Indiana, was being held in the Tippecanoe County Jail in Lafayette, on a preliminary charge of murder.
Cousins is accused of shooting 21-year-old Andrew F. Boldt of West Bend, Wisconsin, in the basement of the electrical engineering building around noon.
The suspect was apprehended moments after the shooting as he ran outside and was caught by West Lafayette, Indiana, police.
For more on the "Curse of Tippecanoe," see here.
The media placed this event in their list of 2014 "school shootings," but it does not really seem to fit there.
There was no evidence of shots fired and no injuries after university officials reported a possible shooting just before noon central time on Wednesday.
"Shooting on campus. Avoid Gould Hall. Seek immediate shelter in place," the university tweeted.
The shelter in place order was lifted shortly afterward.
Alan-Michael Santos, 23, of Winchester, Massachusetts, was arrested and held on $15,000 bail at Cumberland County Jail in Portland after his arrest late Wednesday night.
Earlier, before the standoff, one of Santos's fraternity brothers had gone in to check on him and was met with a gun. Then other students started evacuating the house, and the standoff with law enforcement began. It lasted over four hours. Police executed a search warrant Thursday morning at the Sigma Nu fraternity at 24 School Street and seized two handguns that they believe belonged to Santos. They did not recover any other guns in the building.
Orangeburg's first church was erected prior to 1763 in the center of the village and was destroyed during the Revolutionary War. A subsequent church building was used as a smallpox hospital by General William Tecumseh Sherman during the Civil War. General W. Tecumseh Sherman is noted for his burning of Atlanta, utilizing the "Army of the Cumberland."
A few hours after I wrote the above, the following occurred:
Columbia, Howard County, Maryland
"We have no known relationship between the victims and our shooter," Howard County Police Chief Bill McMahon said at a news conference late Sunday.The body of the suspected shooter (who reportedly took his own life) was found near a shotgun on the floor of Zumiez. A large amount of ammunition was found near the body, and leading investigators to suspect that he might be carrying explosives.
The meaning and origin of the surname Aguilar is linked to the eagle. The name is found in Latin America as Aguilar meaning "sharp-eyed" as an eagle, to Spain where Aguilar means "the eagle." Linguistically Aguilar is related to aquila, a Roman name and the Black Eagle was the devise used on the Roman Legions' banners. Aguilar thus is a habitational name from any of numerous places called Aguilar, from Latin aquilare "haunt of eagles," a derivative of aquila "eagle."
The name Zumiez breaks down to have this complex meaning: Z is for zest, your zeal for life. Uis for uncanny, the way you know what to do. Mis for mighty, your inner strength. Iis for intense, your zest of living. Eis for extra, those little things you do! Zis for zip, the quickness in your step!
Here's the listing again:
Dr. Steven Stack, sociologist, Center for Suicide Research: "The media are still largely in a state of denial on how their coverage of death contributes to the violence and destructiveness in our society -- but Coleman's book should wake them up!"
Benjamin Radford, author of Media Mythmakers: How Journalists, Activists, and Advertisers Mislead Us: "Coleman raises troubling questions about the media's hidden role in perpetuating the very crimes and tragedies they sensationalize."
Tess Gerritsen, M.D., author of The Sinner, The Last to Die, and others: "A fascinating and frightening look at the bizarre outer limits of human behavior."
Kenn Thomas, author of Popular Alienation and Popular Paranoia: "This is urgent reading."
Publishers Weekly: "A convincing case."