The tragic shooting yesterday of school children in Pennsylvania, at a one-room Amish schoolhouse, was a copycat shooting, based on what happened in Bailey last week. According to the news report I link to, officials say they don’t think it’s a copycat. I beg to differ. Below I detail why. They say that the incident was caused by what was going on in the shooter’s head at the time. I can believe that. The evidence shows he was getting revenge for something that happened a long time ago. However, I think if you look at what happened, you can’t help but see that the two incidents followed a similar pattern. I think the shooter today followed the “playbook” of the Bailey shooting. It inspired him to take this action. He had been looking for a way to carry out his revenge, and he found the blueprint to do it.
More details have come out about the Bailey shooting. Duane Morrison, the shooter, had left what looks like a suicide note before going into the school. The police say there’s evidence that he molested (groped) some of the female students he took as hostages, and he sexually assaulted some of the others. So it looks pretty clear that Duane went into it expecting to die, but before that, he wanted to carry out a sick fantasy. I haven’t heard that he’s had a regular pattern of pedophilia, but it sounds to me like he had that tendency, just from the age group he picked.
It’s unclear whether he intended to shoot anyone else besides himself, going into it. He originally had 6 hostages. At the end he only had two, because he had let the others go, one by one throughout the ordeal. He was using the remaining two as human shields against the SWAT squad that had stormed the building. The victim he shot and killed had tried to escape.
The killer today, 32-year-old Charles Carl Roberts, upped the ante. He left a suicide notes, and he took lumber with him to barricade the school doors so as to make it more difficult for police to get to him. He went in with the idea that he was going to die, and that he was going to take innocent female students with him.
He did the same thing that Duane did. He ordered the male students out of the schoolhouse when he took it over. He lined up 12 female students against the blackboard, tied their ankles together, and then shot them one by one, execution style. Then he shot himself. Two of these students were killed, along with a teacher’s aide. The others are at the hospital. One of those in the hospital died this evening. It’s amazing that that many survived, in any case.
In this case, as in the case of Bailey, Charles appeared to have no connection to anyone at the school. The common denominator between the two was that the school was in a picturesque area, with little to no history of violent crime, and there was no security at the school. This sounds sick, but it was “easy pickings”. He wanted to victimize some people, and they were the easiest available targets. I say “available”, because according to the news, this school was close to where he lived.
He deceived the police. He told them when they surrounded the school that if they didn’t back off, he would start shooting. Before they had a chance to even try to back off, he started shooting. I bet it made them pause for a bit, though, which was apparently all the time he needed.
In both cases, it looks to me like these suicidal killers are doing the same things that jihadist suicide bombers are doing in the Middle East. There are differences, but the technique is the same: kill yourself, and kill or hurt others in the process.
This isn’t unique to these school shootings either. For the past 15 years I’ve heard of shootings at work places that follow this methodology (if you can call it that). A male, disgruntled former employee enters where he used to work, kills certain people he has a grudge against, and then kills himself.
Suicide always hurts those who are close to someone who kills themself. That’s not what I’m talking about though. What makes a person do this? If they’re so intent on killing themselves, why don’t they just do it? Why do they feel the need to hurt or kill others in the act? I’m not advocating suicide. I’m looking at their premeditated actions.
I’m no psychologist, but I have been reading about a very insidious mental illness called malignant narcissism, or Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Long ago I used to hear that jihadist suicide bombers had this disorder. Part of this is, of course, an insatiable desire for attention; to feel needed, loved, and significant. According to the article, the person with this affliction only feels like they’re getting this if it is denied to others. They must be regarded as extra special. In the article I link to, the defining characteristic of the malignant narcissist is seeing everyone else as an object, no more significant than a bug or worm, or even a tool in the workshop. They do not see human beings as human beings, worthy of empathy, but rather they see them as a means of reflecting their own self image back to them, as if they were looking in the mirror. The attention is the necessary ingredient. Without it, they feel they do not exist. So they will do whatever it takes to get it. If they can’t get positive attention, they will settle for negative attention. The article notes that this is not unlike how infants behave, and it is natural for them. What normally happens is humans grow out of this mentality as they get older. But for those with NPD, they do not.
Another characteristic I’ve read about of those with NPD is a glorification of one’s own aggressiveness, and desire for power.
In a different article I read, it said that the person with NPD expects everyone around them to reflect their own self image back to them. If they don’t, the person becomes enraged, and punishes them severely for not complying with the fiction that he or she has created for themself.
This may not be an accurate diagnosis of these people who have done these awful killings, but I throw it out there as a possibility.
I learned this past weekend that the shooting in PA was in fact not a copycat crime. So the premise for my original post was wrong. The evidence shows that Charles Roberts was planning and buying materials (like the lumber) in preparation for the crime just shortly before the shooting happened in Bailey, CO. So the fact that these events happened so close together in time, and similar motives and planning went into it was a complete coincidence. It’s like truth imitating fiction. I couldn’t have made this story up.