|“||Before tonight, they didn't know my name! But now... no one will forget it.||”|
"I was the only one brave enough to stare him down, but his bomb knocked me out, and when I woke up, there was Jerry on the TV telling my story! My story!"
Robert was a complete outsider at North Valley High School. On October 12, 2001, a student named Randy Slade carried out a massacre in the school's cafeteria, taking Robert and over a dozen other students hostage. Holding them at gunpoint, he dared them to look him in the eye. Those who couldn't were promptly shot. After killing two students this way, he dared Robert, who was the only one to actually look him in the eye. Slade didn't shoot him, saying he wasn't "worth a bullet". Slade then detonated an explosive device he had brought with him, killing himself and ten other students. Robert was among those injured by the blast, being knocked unconscious and wounded so badly that he developed a condition called pain asymbolia, which made him unable to suffer from physical pain. A few days after the massacre, Robert saw Jerry Holtz, a student who had also been present in the cafeteria and was forced by Slade to lock the doors, on television, claiming to have been the one who managed to look Slade in the eye. Robert went on with his life, very resentful of the fact that Jerry had stolen his credit. In the fall of 2011, when a memorial service for the students killed in the massacre was to be held, Robert came back to Boise with a revenge plan in mind.
Robert starts by killing Doug Givens, the principal of North Valley High, with a bomb hidden in Givens's alarm clock, similar to Slade's. Robert then proceeds to target the members of the Top 10, ten survivors of Slade's massacre who gained widespread media attention. Killing Chelsea Grant second, Robert confronts and attacks Jerry in a lonely hallway inside North Valley, after the latter is interviewed by the BAU, repeatedly demanding that he looks at him and breaking a glass case with his arm in anger. Unable to muster the courage to do so, Jerry yells, "I didn't know! I didn't know!" Robert simply replies, "That's the point! You're gonna find out!" He then murders him in a fit of rage. Later, he approaches Tiffany Gleason in a parking lot and learns from her that she and the rest of the surviving Top 10 members are holding a meeting at the Seven Stars restaurant.
Following her there, Robert places and then detonates a bomb at the main entrance, injuring the nearest patrons and waiters before entering the restaurant and holding Tiffany and the other Top 10 hostage, all the while ranting on about how he never got the credit for being the only one who stared down Slade. Hotch and Prentiss confront him as he holds Tiffany at gunpoint, and they attempt to reason with Robert, telling him that only he could set the record straight. However, he flees, allowing Tiffany and the others to escape. Hotch and Prentiss pursue him to the boiler room, where Robert tries to shoot the former, only to be shot by him. However, the gunshot wound isn't fatal, and Robert grabs a large wrench, snarling, "That...didn't...hurt!" He then charges at Hotch, only to be shot again, this time fatally. The memorial service proceeds just as initially planned.
"Can you look at me in the eye, Jerry?! Huh?! Look at me! Look at me! Look at me, LOOK AT ME!"
Robert targeted people connected to North Valley High and the Top 10 survivors of Slade's massacre. His first victim, Principal Doug Givens, whose death was apparently meant to be a kind of compact copycat act based on Slade's killings, was first shot in the leg with a handgun (possibly the same kind Slade used, a 9mm Beretta M9) to prevent him from fleeing and then killed by a bomb hidden in his alarm clock modeled after Slade's design. Chelsea Grant and Jerry Holtz were both savagely beaten to death with his bare fists, with Grant's neck being crushed first to prevent her from yelling for help, while Holtz (who was the source of his anger) was struck and incapacitated with a fire extinguisher first. Also, Robert asked Principal Givens and Jerry Holtz if they could look him in the eye, just like Slade did, before killing them, though with Holtz, he did it more aggressively due to his rage against him. After bombing the entrance of the Seven Stars restaurant (a way of making an entrance), he held the former Top 10 members hostage with the handgun, forced them to guess his name, and threatened to shoot them if they got it wrong. When he attempted to kill Hotch, he tried to shoot him with the same handgun, then bludgeon him with a wrench after he had been shot and dropped his gun.
"Was it that hard...for you people...to tell the truth about me? Huh? To notice me?!"
Perpetrators of school violence are often sophisticated with their weapons; while Slade carried his bomb in his backpack, the unsub hid his own bomb in Givens' clock radio. He is also progressive, and a loner by default, not by choice, and this fills him with boiling rage. He tried multiple times to join social groups but was rejected each time. He has a sense of control and is working towards an endgame. Slade's pathology revolved around the big kill. The unsub could have done the same, but didn't, which meant that there is no "blaze of glory fantasy". The unsub has more bombs made after killing Givens but is savoring his next attack for the big kill, which is the meeting of the Top 10 members. The unsub's vendetta has nothing to do with Slade's hit list as first thought and he didn't appear to be Slade's partner trying to reclaim credit. His hatred manifested itself when the names on the hit list emerged from the cafeteria as heroes in the media, and now, he wants to finish the job that Slade had started. Emotionally, the memorial is more like a high school reunion to the unsub.
The unsub is also tied to the school in some way, like a student, a family member of one of the victims killed in the massacre, or a groupie. However, he was quickly ruled out as a groupie, because the unsub tricked Givens into blowing himself up, and a groupie wouldn't have showed such a high degree of control. Seconds before murdering Jerry Holtz, he smashed a glass case as a show of force, an action that would injure him. Empathy is developed by sharing pain, and because the unsub was not able to feel pain, this empathy was cut off.
- October 10: Doug Givens (the school principal; non-fatally shot in the right leg, then killed by a SEMTEX bomb)
- October 11: Chelsea Grant (a former Top 10 member; crushed her neck, then beat her to death with his bare hands)
- October 12:
- Jerry Holtz (another former Top 10 member; struck across the face with a fire extinguisher, then beaten to death like the previous victim)
- The attack at the Seven Stars restaurant:
- At least six unnamed patrons and waiters (all injured by the bomb Robert used to enter the restaurant)
- Held the following hostage and presumably intended to kill them:
- Tiffany Gleason (later held at gunpoint)
- The other seven unnamed former Top 10 members
- Aaron Hotchner (attempted to shoot, then bludgeon with a wrench)
- Robert had a high tolerance for pain, smashing his hand through the glass sheet of a trophy case with no visible damage, and taking multiple gunshots before finally dying. This makes Robert Adams the fourth of six unsubs the BAU have apprehended that displayed a high tolerance for pain. The other five are:
- Jonny McHale ("True Night") - A serial-turned-spree killer and vigilante who withstood being hit by a car, was able to brutally slay six armed men, with one of them shooting him.
- Vincent Rowlings ("The Big Wheel") - A prolific serial killer who was shot at point-blank range by a gangbanger, yet still managed to stab him unhindered by the gunshot (but still died hours later).
- Rhett Walden ("Reflection of Desire") - A necrophiliac, abductor, and budding serial killer who was still able to carry his mother's corpse, despite being shot by Hotch at close range.
- Trey Gordon ("In the Dark") - A serial-turned-spree killer and sniper who was able to walk barefoot on broken glass and still managed to slaughter a couple while sleepwalking. When he woke up, he only seemed mildly irritated by the glass cuts. He also has a medical explanation for his pain tolerance.
- Gabriel Merza ("Blue Angel") - A serial killer and former hitman who was stabbed in the back and was still able to attack Matthew Simmons unobstructed, also not treating the stab wound at all.
- However, Robert is the first of them to have a proper explanation for his pain tolerance.
- Eric Jungmann, the actor who portrayed Robert, also portrayed a bomber in the procedural drama NCIS: Los Angeles.