Saturday, April 28, 2007

APA: Stop Airing Graphic Cho Materials

Of course, my question to the American Psychiatric Association is...what took you so long?

APA Urges Media To Stop Airing Graphic Cho Materials
Today [28 Apr 2007] the American Psychiatric Association (APA) sent an open letter to the news media urging them to stop airing the disturbing writings, photographs and video that NBC News reportedly received from Cho Seung-Hui, who committed suicide after murdering 32 students and faculty and wounding at least 29 others at Virginia Tech.

The letter was signed by APA President Pedro Ruiz, M.D., and contained two enclosures: a World Health Organization report, entitled "Preventing Suicide: A Resource for Media Professionals," and a study from American Behavioral Scientist, entitled "Media Contagion and Suicide among the Young" "Media Contagion and Suicide among the Young" and authored by Madelyn Gould, Ph.D., of Columbia University and colleagues. The full text of the letter is as follows:

On behalf of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and our 38,000 physician members specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses, I urge all news media outlets to stop airing the disturbing writings, photographs and video that NBC News reportedly received from Cho Seung-Hui, who committed suicide after murdering 32 students and faculty and wounding at least 29 others at Virginia Tech.

The publicity of the Cho materials not only seems insensitive to the grieving and traumatized families, friends and peers of those murdered and injured, but also seriously jeopardizes the public's safety by potentially inciting "copycat" suicides, homicides and other incidents. Because the scientific evidence in this area is clear, the World Health Organization, in its 2000 report "Preventing Suicide: A Resource for Media Professionals," said: "Glorifying suicide victims as martyrs and objects of public adulation may suggest to susceptible persons that their society honours suicidal behaviour." Indeed, it is evident to many that the Columbine tragedy was a powerful force in Mr. Cho's writings. The media have an important role to play in limiting the power of such tragedies by choosing not to sensationalize them.

Some media have declined to publicize Mr. Cho's materials - a decision we applaud. However, some outlets, including NBC News, continue to use the materials. NBC News issued a statement yesterday in which it announced that, after thorough review, it has "limited our usage of the video across NBC News, including MSNBC, to no more than 10 percent of our airtime." While we trust this action was undertaken with the best of intentions, allowing the Cho materials to continue to constitute 10 percent of airtime demonstrates a lack of understanding of the potential impact the video and audio could have.

The massacre at Virginia Tech is newsworthy and it is the media's job to report on it, but we believe the media have a responsibility to balance the public's need to know against the potential danger of provoking copycat behavior. The APA urges, for the public good, that all media cease airing the graphic Cho materials.

Their press release url:

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Student Hostage Nearly Immolated

Did you know there was a violent school incident on April 24, 2007, only a week and a day after what happened in Blacksburg, Virginia?

An intriguing reaction to the talk of copycats and predictions of further copycats a week after VA Tech appears to be developing within the editorial rooms of the US media: Silence. Don't talk about it. Maybe people won't know there are copycats?

Decades of research and common sense are confirming that the copycat effect exists. You can read several examples on this blog and in my book, of course. Nevertheless, in the wake of VA Tech, the American media appears to be pulling back from exploring the fact that examples of the multiple varieties of murder-suicides and school violence are occurring.

Or are they consciously not reporting on active school violence and will be less graphic during the next school shooting?

Is this the same media that said the people have the "right to know" when justifying the posting of the Cho images, words, and video? Excuse me for being a little confused.

Or are we seeing some subtle differences when events happening are not direct imitations of VA Tech (as if those were the only copycats), or if the examples occur in Canada versus the USA?

Would the media rather report nonstop on the false bomb threats and discovered plots as "the copycats," but overlook the ones that really do occur? Is there an ignoring of the three Houston area murder-suicides and the standoff and suicide in Maine last week, which were certainly part of the copycat contagion seen?

The situation that has been revealed today exclusively in two Canadian news outlets was definitely school violence, and this fact was not lost on the Canadian media. It even has echoes of the Bailey, Colorado, and Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, hostage incidents within it.

According to The Globe and Mail and CBC News, the disturbing hostage situation took place at the Bois-Joly elementary school. The school is in "the trailer-park community of Place Ferland near Sept-Îles," as the The Globe and Mail referred to the setting, and continued, in part:

As some pupils played in the schoolyard yesterday during the mid-morning recess, a car came crashing through the school fence. A man got out of the vehicle, and students say he appeared to be in a fit of rage, and slapped and pushed six of the children.

A teacher who intervened to protect the children was brutally hit by the assailant, who then forced her into the school.

Inside, the man grabbed a nine-year-old boy and dragged him out, across the schoolyard and to a nearby gas station. There he took a nozzle from one of the pumps and sprayed the boy with gasoline.

"We didn't know if he was armed," principal Louise Bourgeois told TVA news. "He had circulated in the school and left by another door. Was he going to come back? He had just taken one of our students."

A teacher followed the man to the gas station and, along with a man who was pumping gas, pulled the child away from his assailant to safety. Shortly afterward, police arrived and took the 38-year old man into custody.

Ms. Bourgeois said she was shocked by the violence, and the entire staff and student body were traumatized.

According to police, the man was not related to the boy, yet appeared determined to immolate his young hostage for no reason....

The incident, which took place only a week after the shooting rampage at Virginia Tech in the United States, has awakened fears that troubled individuals are targeting schools....

Children who spoke to the media said the man firmly gripped his hostage and made his way toward the gas station.

"I stayed in the class when he took the hostage by the neck and yelled to everyone to get out of his way," one of the pupils said.>/p>

None of the children was injured. The Globe and Mail, 25 April 2007

Meanwhile, the only other mention was by the CBC News when noted, in part:

Police said a man crashed his car into the schoolyard fence during morning recess, got out, walked toward the school, hit six children and then dragged a teacher who tried to intervene into the school.

The man then grabbed a seventh child, fled the school on foot with the nine-year-old in tow and headed to a nearby gas station where he doused the boy with gasoline....

The man they have arrested has two children at the same school but is not related to the nine-year-old victim, police said. He faces several assault charges, and a count of forcible confinement, provincial police said. CBC News, 25 April 2007

Monday, April 23, 2007

Cho's Duck: Target Practice?

Cho Seung-Hui, as The Smoking Gun discovered, used the email address and bought his ammunition clips on eBay. We know what gun store he used to purchase his guns.

The Smoking Gun also posted the eBay pages showing that Cho apparently won the auctions on 37 rubber duckies (36 small ones, one large) from the online auction site.

Some talk show hosts are using this piece of information in warped ways to ridicule Cho, joking about Cho playing with the bright yellow plastic ducks in his bathtub. I have a more sinister possibility for their use. What if the rubber ducks were used for target practice?

As every little tidbit on Cho is rolled out, reporters are making it sound like Cho was engaged in product placements.

We are hearing about every mundane detail on Cho's purchases, of late. Cho used the USPS, not UPS or FedEx to mail his package.

He bought the chains he used to keep the doors closed from Home Depot.

Cho played the song "Shine" all the time.

I'm almost expecting to see a spoof ad on YouTube any day now showing a racially-profiled actor holding up a 9mm Glock and endorsing the gunshops where Cho bought his guns and ammunition.

Would this be a better outcome in the midst of this current deconstruction of Cho's life in the wake of Cho's glorification footage on NBC and MSNBC being shown, instead of a new fatal copycat incident with more deaths in the next few days? Of course it would. Only time will tell, but if history is a guide, I recommend awareness to what is happening all around you.

One thing is certain, this is not a time to laugh-off any potential suicidal-homicial warning signs.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Copycat of Copycats

It is easy to be unhappy with the headlines in the New York Post. Today is no different - "Sick Homages From A Student of Psychos" - but reporter Jill Culora did an excellent job getting all her facts correct after she interviewed me for this story:

Virginia Tech killer Cho Seung-Hui plagiarized other school-shooting psychos in a twisted show of one-upmanship. He used the Internet to research and learn from infamous school killers, including Columbine HS's Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, Duane Morrison of Bailey, Colo., and Kimveer Gill of Montreal, experts said.

In photos he sent to NBC News, Cho is seen wearing a black baseball cap backward, just as Harris wore in published images.

In others, Cho strikes poses disturbingly similar to those of Gill - who posted photos of himself online before his rampage last September at Montreal's Dawson College that killed one student and injured a dozen.

Gill's profile on the social-networking site shows him pointing a pistol at the camera while holding a hunting knife in his right hand, just as Cho did his photos.

During his death spree, Cho chained doors closed - as Morrison did last year, when he held female students hostage at Platte Canyon HS and killed one. Cho mentioned "martyrs" Harris and Klebold in his videotaped manifesto.

"Cho was an empty vessel and he poured himself full from images off the [cable news and] Internet - the culture of Columbine, Dawson College and terrorism," said Loren Coleman, an expert on school shootings and author of The Copycat Effect.

"There's a psychological process that these shooters appear to be competing for the highest body count."Jill Culora, New York Post, Sunday, April 22, 2007.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Copycats In Dangerous Times

For those that have my book, The Copycat Effect, you will note that it is dedicated to my maternal grandmother, Nellie Gray, who was killed in a murder-suicide on Valentine's Day 1940. Yesterday ended with another murder-suicide, on the anniversary of Columbine. It was another murder-suicide in a week that began with the VA Tech murders-suicide. What did the cable news and other media outlets do with it? They let us know for hours and hours, with helicopters overhead showing a building, a SWAT vehicle in mud, and "danger" that there was a police standoff at NASA in Clear Lake near Houston, Texas. Another suicidal person in Clear Lake had taken the world media stage, I said to myself. (In my book, I write of Clear Lake, Texas, as a primary suicide cluster of the 1980s.)

Commentators filled air-time with speculations yesterday about this Clear Lake event being horrible to watch, as it unfolded in the wake of VA Tech. But they kept it on television until it ended with the discovery of the suicide of the man and that he had killed a male hostage three hours earlier. And that he had held a woman alive in the meantime.

Apparently the media remain unconscious to what they are doing. Let's see, the VA Tech tragedy and the NASA standout/murder-suicide are news events being squeezed in between the Anne Nicole Smith and Imus "news" and the Baldwin cellphone rants to his daughter. News as entertainment. But death news tends to be copycatted in many forms. College campuses are not the only sites we have to worry about.

Copycat situations have occurred on school and universities - in almost 30 states since Monday. But as I wrote and consulted about long ago, the school shootings set off other "rampage killers" too. Look and be aware beyond the schools.

I would not be surprised to see a "going postal" situation next week or another school shooting Monday or Tuesday, and then more throughout the whole next month. Right now the repeating action with be diffused and diverse - but the real events will be intense. The bar has been set higher by the media hype, and the results may be more brutal. Those bombs that did not go off at Columbine will be handled by youth who understand technology better. We are in dangerous times.

Here's what I wrote about the events triggered right after a large event such as VA Tech, in my book The Copycat Effect:

p. 135
The copycat effect is a highly volatile phenomenon, spreading much like a match fire set to gasoline dripping across a service station lot. Individual violent acts portrayed in the media tend to spawn further events in the days and weeks that follow, though the subsequent events may be murder-suicides, mass murders, or mass suicides regardless of the precipitating event. Copycat murders and murder-suicides are real.

pp. 138-139
Publicity about a celebrity murder and murder-suicide serves as the spark to send a vulnerable, questioning, suicidal person in one of many directions. How the individual copes with the stresses leading to suicide, of course, varies from individual to individual, but by adding a model of behavior to the mix, via the media, pushes some people in a specific behavioral direction....[California sociologist] David Phillips has found an increase in both suicides and murder-suicides following other well-publicized suicides and murder-suicides, including in unrecognized aircraft accidents. Similarly, sociologist Steve Stack’s 1989 study, the first ever on the effect of publicized mass murders and murder-suicides, showed the interplay between the media, murder, suicide, and murder-suicides. Stack explored their impact on lethal aggression by focussing on the stories of mass murder-suicides and mass murders that aired on two or three of the network news channels (ABC, CBS & NBC) from 1968-1980. Stack found that mass murder/suicides are significantly associated with increases in the suicide rate. He also noted that one special type of mass murder, publicized gangland mass murders, were associated with increases in suicide.

p. 163
It became clear by the late 1990s that reports of workplace violence were not always just followed by other copycats of workplace incidents a day or a week later, but sometimes by other forms of mass and rampage violence as well. For example in the first week of November 1999, two workplace shootings on a Tuesday and a Wednesday shook the United States, which was already reeling from a long string of office and school killings for the year. In Seattle and Honolulu, the families of nine victims grieved as observers debated how to keep violence out of public settings traditionally considered safe. In Honolulu, seven people were shot to death when [a] Xerox technician...walked into a second-floor meeting room of the Xerox's offices and opened fire. He shot all the victims at close range with a 9mm handgun. In Seattle, the next day a gunman shot and killed two men and wounded two others in a shipyard office. Wearing a dark trench coat over camouflage clothing, the gunman had walked into the Northlake Shipyard building and proceeded down a long hallway and into a back office before wordlessly opening fire and shooting all four men in the room with a 9mm semi-automatic handgun. Two 9 mm guns, two Pacific Rim cities, two days of killings. Ten days later, another school shooting occurred in New Mexico.

p. 164
One type of copycat event was reinforcing another...

When such clustering occurs, with its mix of violence types, the copycatting is spreading from one type of incident to another....The violence is everywhere and the media is gobbling it up, unconsciously spreading it in the process.

Friday, April 20, 2007


What does "420" mean? April 20th? Or something deeper?

High school student Jeff Weise, an Ojibwa, killed ten, including himself, at the Red Lake Ojibwa Reservation in Minnesota, on March 21, 2005. A great admirer of Columbine, it was discovered that Weise left references to Columbine throughout his online presence. For example, he employed a username, which translated to "Abandoned 420."

Columbine and 420

Obviously, one meaning of "420" is directly linked to the Columbine date, as "4/20" is April 20, the anniversary of the Littleton, Colorado shootings. This date is also Adolf Hitler's birthday. The Columbine shooters, Klebold and Harris were extremely conscious that it was Hitler's birthdate, and often spoke German to each other, while walking around in long black trench coats, videotaping themselves.

Copycat Weise left messages on such sites as Weise wore a dark trench coat to school all year round, and had a swastika fascination, a symbol used by both First Nations people and Nazis. In one of Weise's online profiles, he noted that two of his favorite movies were Elephant and Zero Day, based on the events of the Columbine High School massacre.

Jeff Weise virtually haunted the Neo-Nazi Internet forum of the Libertarian National Socialist Green Party under the aliases NativeNazi and Todesengel (German for "Angel of Death"). He admired Hitler, his posts revealed. Weise also alleged online that his school was warned in 2004 that someone was going to "shoot up" the school on April 20, the birthday of Adolf Hitler and the anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre, and that the school authorities "pinned" the threat on him.

But Weise sometimes would sound almost typical. For example, on one of his user info pages, he said he was "nothin' but your average Native American stoner" and mentioned that he used marijuana. After Columbine, one oft-repeated story circulated that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were upset by an unfounded accusation made by an anonymous classmate that the two had brought marijuana to school, prompting a search of their property. Harris and Klebold were said to have found the incident humiliating.

The Other Meaning of 420

The use of "420" for almost four decades is related to the use of marijuana.

4:20 or 4/20 (pronounced four-twenty) is a term used in North America as a discreet way to refer to cannabis and, by extension, a way to identify oneself with cannabis culture. Phrases such as "420 friendly" sometimes appear in roommate advertisements, indicating that the current occupants are tolerant of cannabis users.

It is widely accepted that in 1971, a group of teenagers at San Rafael High School in San Rafael, California, calling themselves The Waldos, used to meet every day after school at 4:20 p.m. to smoke marijuana at the Louis Pasteur statue. The term became part of their group's salute, "420 Louis," and it eventually caught on more widely. Many cannabis users continue to observe 4:20 as a time to smoke communally. By extension April 20 ("4/20" in U.S. dating shorthand) has evolved into a counterculture holiday, where people gather to celebrate and consume cannabis. Source: Wikipedia

It was the research of Steven Hager, editor of High Times, who found the term 420 originated at San Rafael High School in 1971, among the Waldos. A quote from one of the Waldos in the article notes, "We did discover we could talk about getting high in front of our parents without them knowing by using the phrase 420."

Adolf Hitler, marijuana, Columbine: For copycats, 420 appears to have served as a reflective mirror. For the rest of us, 420 may reflect a dangerous combination that has resulted in terrible memories that now reach beyond the mere date of April 20th.

P. S. - Please give me the intellectual respect to understand this is not an anti-drug message, but one about awareness of the twilight language behind code words like "420" in one shooter's message. To think this is as an anti-marijuana blog is as illogical as thinking I am going to let myself get involved in the quicksand of a pro-gun-control vs pro-gun debate. Blaming drugs, guns, video games, and the long list of candidates seems to ignore what's happening in the imprinted mind of the suicidal potential school shooter.


Columbine School Shooting, April 20, 1999

There were 15 people killed in the Columbine High School massacre.

Remember all the names of those who were lost to the violence:

* Cassie Bernall, 17
* Steven Curnow, 14
* Corey DePooter, 17
* Kelly Fleming, 16
* Eric David Harris, 18
* Matthew Kechter, 16
* Dylan Bennet Klebold, 17
* Daniel Mauser, 15
* Daniel Rohrbough, 15
* William David "Dave" Sanders, 47
* Rachel Scott, 17
* Isaiah Shoels, 18
* John Tomlin, 16
* Lauren Townsend, 18
* Kyle Velasquez, 16

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Columbine & VA Tech

NBC News got a package in the mail. I'm sure you've heard the news. Columbine is now confirmed to be part of the mental process of the VA Tech shooter.

NBC's and MSNBC's unfolding of this story demonstrates they have rather wholehearted published the VA Tech shooter's photos, some of his words, and his video. The way they have teased the public (e.g. "Turn in at 6:30 to see the exclusive video"; "See different photographs on MSNBC following NBC Nightly News"; "There will be more revealed on The Today Show in the morning") is so obviously a draw for higher rating. This is about the bottomline, when news becomes entertainment, a grab for more ad revenue. Death sells. If it bleeds, it leads.

This is exactly the level of glorification of school killers that I have recommended against for several years now, and brought to together in my book.

The Columbine killers, I was not surprised to hear, were noted in the VA Tech shooter's materials. Cho Seung-hui called Columbine's Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold "martyrs". Harris and Klebold live on in their videos and got them broadcast; why won't the newest shooter wish to get his images shown to the world too. NBC fell right into his master plan.

Of course, not acknowledged by the graphic wall-to-wall cable networks is what a central role they have in triggering copycats. On "Hardball," on April 18, 2007, Chris Matthews made an under-informed remark about the "copycat effect." Matthews challenged the notion of the copycat effect by saying aloud that there had not been any copycat's of Columbine since Columbine. He said that it was odd that there had been a skipping of the eight years since Columbine, saying VA Tech was unique apparently, as if his facts were correct.

What Matthews and others could find if they looked is that there is a clear history of Columbine copycats. This trickle down through the years, with some of the most concrete elements of direct links and copycatting to be found between Columbine, Santee Red Lake, Dawson College, and VA Tech.

Just read about the direct copycats that happened immediately after Columbine:

On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, killed one teacher and 12 students and wounded 23 others at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Focusing their attack on the cafeteria, Harris and Klebold spoke German and worn trench coats, as they reenacted scenes from Matrix and The Basketball Diaries in the nation's deadliest school shooting. They had plotted for a year to kill at least 500 and blow up their school. At the end of their hour-long rampage, they turned their guns on themselves. Harris and Klebold appeared to have deliberately chosen the anniversary date of Hitler’s Birthday for their attack. At one point, Harris and Klebold had considered the highly important date of April 19, too – the anniversary of Waco and the Oklahoma City bombing – but transportation problems forced a delay in their plans. They finally carried out their attack on the 20th – speaking German and “honoring” Hitler. (They had also discussed that after the attack, they would hijack a jetliner, fly it from Colorado, and crash it into Manhattan. This was two years before the terror of 2001.)

In the wake of the shootings in Littleton, the nation’s schools were under attack by copycats. Some 400 related incidents were reported in the month following the killings. “Across the nation after the 1999 Columbine tragedy,” noted Court TV’s Katherine Ramsland, “other kids called in bomb threats, wore trench coats to school, or used the Internet to praise what Klebold and Harris had done. Only ten days later, on April 30, people feared the eruption of some major event because that day marked Hitler’s suicide in 1945. Schools in Arizona, New Jersey, Michigan, North Carolina, and DC closed to investigate potential threats. It wasn't Paducah, or Jonesboro, or Springfield that they wanted to imitate; the mantra was ‘Columbine.’”

One week after Columbine, on April 28, 1999, one student, Jason Lang, 17, was killed, and one wounded at W. R. Myers High School in Taber, Alberta, Canada. This was the first fatal high school shooting in Canada in 20 years. The shooter was a 14-year-old boy. Exactly a month after Columbine, on May 20, 1999, at Conyers, Georgia, six students were injured at Heritage High School when classmate Thomas Solomon, 15, opened fire. No one died. Witnesses reported that Solomon placed the revolver in his mouth as if to shoot himself, but he did not pull the trigger.

On November 19, 1999, Victor Cordova Jr., 12, shot and killed Araceli Tena, 13, in the lobby of Deming Middle School in Deming, New Mexico. At Fort Gibson, Oklahoma, on December 6, 1999, four students were wounded as Seth Trickey, 13, opened fire with a 9mm semiautomatic handgun at Fort Gibson Middle School.The Copycat Effect, pages 175-176

But for MSNBC's Chris Matthews and others who have so quickly forgotten what they have talked about on their own shows in the recent past, there are other shooters who have joined the cult of Columbine before they have untaken their shootings.

The Santana High School, Santee, California, was the site of a school shooting on March 5, 2001, when fifteen-year old student Charles Andrew Williams opened fire with a pistol, killing two fellow students, and wounding 15 others. Williams told friends he was going to "pull a Columbine."

Let's not forget that Columbine happened on Hitler's birthday. On April 26, 2002, on Rudolf Hess's birthday, Robert Steinhäuser, killed 16 people plus himself at his Erfurt, Germany high school. He had files on his computer, which contained information about the Columbine Massacre. Steinhäuser had outdone the Columbine total (which may have been one of his goals).

Jeff Weise, at the Red Lake Chippewa Reservation in Minnesota, a Native youth who identified more with the Columbine shooters than his own people, picked Monday, March 21, 2005, to kill his grandfather (whom he lived with), his grandfather's girlfriend, and then went to the high school to kill seven. He turned the gun on himself, dying by suicide. The death toll was ten. He used a .22 handgun, 9mm Glock 17, and had a shotgun. Weise would reference Columbine over the internet, with the username which translated to "Abandoned 420." In an incident mirroring what took place during the Columbine shootings, one eyewitness said that Weise asked a victim if he believed in God before shooting him.

Forgotten today is that many near-Columbines were discovered in 2005 (the same year, reportedly, that Cho Seung-hui's contacts with mental health and law enforcement reached its first peak). According to Canada's National Post on March 18, 2005, New Brunswick's Saint John and Harbourview high schools were disturbed to discover three teenage boys, aged 15 to 17, had in mind a well-planned massacre for April 20 (Columbine High School massacre's anniversary date, of course). Other Columbine-like plots were also discovered in March 2005 in Colorado and California. During mid-March 2005, news reports furthermore told of Utah's Uintah High School where four students had a serious plot to carry out a Columbine-like raid, and of a Oregon, Illinois, school, where two 15-year-old sophomores and one 14-year-old freshman who exploded two homemade bombs nearby.

James Scott Newman, a 14-year-old boy opened fire, injuring two students at a Reno middle school on March 14, 2006. Newman planned the shooting for a week by "Research[ing] the Columbine High School shooting on the Internet, and this further inspired him to do the shooting," reported law enforcement investigators.

On August 29, 2006, in Hillsborough, North Carolina, one was dead (father of teenage shooter) and two wounded (two students) at the Orange High School. After killing his father at home, the shooter showed up in a trench coat, with guns, pipe bombs, in a copycat of Columbine. Asked by police why he went to Orange High School, Alvaro Rafael Castillo, 19, responded: "Columbine. Remember Columbine."

The most obvious recent copycat event that closely serves as a bridge between Columbine and VA Tech, which Chris Matthews should have hardly forgotten, is the Dawson College campus shooting of September 13, 2006, in Montreal, Quebec. Kimveer Gill, the 25-year-old shooter, a self-described atheist Goth Columbine copycat, with an Indian Sikh heritage, wearing a trenchcoat, dark clothing, and a strange looking haircut, came to Dawson College, fully armed. He had with him a Beretta Cx4 Storm carbine, a Glock 9mm handgun, and a Norinco HP9-1 short barreled shotgun. He appeared to target what students call the "Jew Caf" and opened fire, killing Anastasia de Sousa, 18, and wounded 19 other students. Police fired upon him, and then Gill turned the gun on himself. Gill was obsessed by the Columbine massacre. He mentioned online being a fan of several computer games (e.g. Super Columbine Massacre) and movies (e.g. Natural Born Killers, Matrix).

Death sells. If it bleeds, it leads. What was NBC thinking?

Based on the coverage I am seeing on television, should we expect more school shootings in the next month. Yes, there will be more copycats - first the bomb threats, then the discovery of plots, and hopefully not, but probably some actual shootings too.

Monday, April 16, 2007

VA Tech Shooting

Xeni Jardin at Boing Boing has a good overview of the Virginia Tech shooting today. It appears 33 dead are confirmed, including the shooter (described in some reports as an Asian male with a black hood).

Sadly, I saw this coming.

In an article based on an email I sent to a Canadian TV reporter Bridget Brown on September 18th and her followup interview, CTV noted that Expert predicted 'cluster' of school shootings, on October 3rd, 2006.

In that article, I was quoted as noting the psychological process that these shooters appear to be "competing for the highest body count." Sadly, we've seen that come true today.

Also, the news item from last fall noted: "He says that while the Pennsylvania shootings may not be the last in this cluster, the copycat crimes will likely slow down as we near winter. He says spring, and the anniversary of Columbine, could be enough to spark another cycle of tragedy." Again, my prediction of a reigniting of the school shooting wildfire during this very week was revealed today.

Interestingly, I am been interviewed by Canadian media today, and will be on the CBC tomorrow. The media north of the border seem less threatened by what I've said in The Copycat Effect: How the Media and Popular Culture Trigger the Mayhem in Tomorrow's Headlines. I was interviewed after the Dawson College schooling last fall frequently by Canadian television and radio stations, less by American programs.

Xeni Jardin wonders how I would feel about what I am hearing on the American cable news networks. To listen to CNN and MSNBC is to watch the news people stumble through this story.

These cable news people certainly should be aware that there is a copycat effect going on here. They have been reporting on this for ten years now, and can't see the legacy between wall-to-wall coverage and what happens when you elevate Columbine the way the media has.

Specfically today, there is something over-the-top being heard in some of the reports that this shooting today is the "deadliest" in American history. Also, incorrect information is being shared. These newspeople are misreporting on the profiles and the changes in it. Cable news earlier this afternoon misrepresented that this is an American-only problem. During the early evening, I just watched a report on CNN saying that the few historical non-American school shootings have been done by adult non-students.

Of course, this is simplistic. The American cable networks are ignoring Taber, Alberta (1999) to Erfurt, Germany (2002), and several in-between international events where the shooters have been relatively young people. The US media outlets are also forgetting that most of the fall 2006 American school shooting incidents involved outsiders, non-students and adults.

Last fall, as I told all that would listen, there was a shift in the overall North American shooter profile. It moved from one of mostly Caucasian males who were members of the student body to "outsiders." It began in earnest with the the youthful South Asian immigrant who became happier as a member of the cult of Columbine before his attack at Dawson College, and the two adult alleged sexual molesters who victimized young females in Bailey, Colorado and at the Amish school in Pennsylvania.

Will more of these happen? Probably.

There was a Columbine copycat shooting last week (April 11) in Oregon (with no deaths) in which the shooter said he got the idea after watching National Geographic's April 7th showing of "The Final Report: Columbine."

This VA Tech shooting comes days before the Columbine anniversary on Friday, April 20th.

I would definitely say we are going to be entering a period for the next month of many threats, many plots, and a few shootings.

Don't let your guard down. Awareness is key, communication is important, and quick response is a must.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Gresham Copycatted Columbine

New accounts from Gresham, Oregon, have noted that a Tuesday, April 10 school shooting appears to have been triggered by the shooter's viewing of the recent National Geographic Channel's "The Final Report: Columbine."

That individual, Chad Antonio Escobedo had watched the Columbine documentary and decided April 7 that he would do a shooting at his school because he was angry, according to the new court documents, as reported by KPTV, KATU-TV, and Oregon newspapers.

A 15-year-old boy charged with attempted aggravated murder after a shooting shattered some windows at a high school told police he was influenced by a television documentary on the 1999 Columbine shootings in Colorado.

Chad Antonio Escobedo appeared Wednesday afternoon in Multnomah County Circuit Court to face two counts of attempted aggravated murder along with two counts of assault and two counts of unlawful use of a weapon.

Ten students suffered minor injuries from shattered glass in the Tuesday afternoon shooting at Springwater Trail High School in this Portland suburb.

According to an affidavit filed by Deputy District Attorney Christine Mascal, Escobedo started forming the plan Saturday because he was "angry" at a teacher who had left messages at his home, telling his parents he wasn't doing well in school.

Another teacher is "mean" to students, he told police.

Escobedo also said he was angry at his mother because she would not let him live with his biological father in Eastern Oregon, the affidavit said.

The court document — which mentioned the Columbine influence — said that Escobedo left his house Tuesday morning [April 10th] carrying his stepfather's Winchester .270-caliber bolt action rifle and three boxes of bullets in the rifle's carrying case. He told police he hid the weapon in tall grass near the school before heading to class.

During lunch, he showed a bullet to several friends and told them he would shoot at the school. Instead of returning to class after lunch, he retrieved the rifle, put a bullet in the chamber and fired at what he thought was the classroom of the teacher who left messages at his house, according to the affidavit.

Coincidentally, the principal at Springwater — Larry Bentz — was principal at Thurston High School in Springfield when a student killed two other students and injured 25 in a shooting spree nearly a decade ago.

"When I hear lightning never strikes twice in the same place, I might question that," Bentz told KATU-TV in Portland.

But he said the circumstances were different in the shooting that broke windows at Springwater on Tuesday and the deadly rampage by Kip Kinkel at Thurston in 1998. Kinkel was sentenced to 112 years in prison in the Thurston shootings.

"I don't think there's any point in comparing the two events," Bentz told KATU.

Some of the Springwater students told KATU that Escobedo had warned them he was going to shoot at the school but they did not take him seriously or report him to a teacher or administrator.

Debbie Sanderson, the mother of a Springwater student, told KATU that Escobedo called her daughter and confessed to the shooting before police took him into custody.The Associated Press, April 11, 2007

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The Final Report: Columbine

National Geographic Channel will broadcast their hour-long documentary, The Final Report: Columbine about the April 20, 1999 shootings at Columbine High School, on Tuesday, April 3, 2007, at 10 PM Eastern Daylight Time.

The program will also be repeated on Saturday, April 7, and Tuesday, April 10, 2007.

Here is their overview of the program:

It was one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history: the Columbine High School massacre. On April 20, 1999, two teenage students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, carried out a shooting rampage at Columbine High School in Jefferson County, Colorado killing 12 students and a teacher, and wounding 24 others before committing suicide. Did they have a methodical plan? What warning signs were missed? As the eighth anniversary of this tragic day approaches, The Final Report investigates the full story with the help of former students, journalists, FBI special agents, the district attorney and the killers’ own diaries and home videos.National Geographic Channel

The writing credit is given to Charles Fitzgerald, who previously has been a television producer/writer for documentaries including "LA Riots" (2006), "Iran: The Next Iraq?" (2005), and "American Justice" (4 episodes, 2004-2005).

The narrator is the well-known voice actor and narrator Tom Kane.