School shooters are a kind of rampage killers who commit violence with firearms at an educational facility, such as a high school or a university. The term is to be distinguished from shootings committed by law enforcement near schools against students or intruders, such as the Kent State massacre. School shootings are one of two notable types of rampage killings, the other being workplace shootings.
School bombers are a rare kind of rampage killers who commit violence with explosives (and possibly firearms as well) at educational facilities. Rampage killers rarely attack schools with explosives, but they are not nonexistent. Examples include the Bath School bombing, the Columbine High School massacre, and recent Taliban attacks on schools that educate girls.
PathologyEditSchool shooters commit their sprees and are "set off" for a number of different reasons. One can be that they have recently gone through a very emotional romantic breakup. Another can be an academic failure. Sometimes, school shooters might be inspired by more recent school shootings. They might also have suffered a lot of bullying. Some personal traits listed by the FBI in their text The School Shooter: A Threat Assessment Perspective are:
- Almost always male, with few exceptions
- Almost always Caucasian (in America and Caucasian dominate countries)
- Easily frustrated
- Poor coping skills
- Study and talks about violent subjects
- Show interest in the military
- Signs of depression
- A lack of trust towards people
- They might lose interest in activities they were previously very involved with
- They might be narcissistic and have a high sense of self-importance, sometimes to mask feelings of unworthiness or insecurity, and feel entitled to special treatment.
- They might have feelings of alienation, isolation, sadness and/or loneliness.
- They might have difficult relationships with their parents who accept their unusual behavior and aren't intimate.
- The student has access to weapons, often owned by the family.
- Bullied by others. 84% of school attackers reported being bullied and persecuted by others, even those that committed suicide or was killed on the scene left evidence behind of past bullying.
As with most rampage killers, school shooters, by definition, use firearms during their massacres, though extremely rare exceptions, such as the Cologne school massacre, which involved a flamethrower, do exist. Some of them, such as the Columbine shooters, may also use homemade or easily accessible explosives (although half of their bombs failed to detonate, including the two propane bombs planted in the cafeteria). The deadliest school massacre in American history, the Bath School bombing, used explosives instead of guns, though Andrew Kehoe, the bomber, fired a Winchester rifle in the back seat of his truck to detonate dynamite.
Half of school shooters commit suicide once their rampages are finished or they cannot continue due to law enforcement presence, being subdued by students and/or staff, or if they surrender. Those that are taken into custody are usually talked down by law enforcement or people at the school.
- Traumatized - They come from broken homes, suffered physical and/or sexual abuse, has at least one parent dealing with substance abuse, and at least one parent with a criminal record.
- Psychotic - They come from intact families with no history of abuse; have no parental substance abuse or incarceration; and exhibited symptoms of either schizophrenia or schizotypal personality disorder, including paranoid delusions, delusions of grandeur, and auditory hallucinations.
- Psychopathic - They come from intact families with no history of substance abuse or significant family dysfunction; and demonstrate narcissism, a lack of empathy, a lack of conscience, and sadistic behavior.
In the United StatesEdit
School shootings in the U.S. are tragically common and a significant portion of mass shootings that occur in the country. Well-known school shootings are:
- Charles Whitman, a.k.a. The Texas Tower Sniper: The 25-year-old perpetrator of the University of Texas massacre on August 1, 1966. On the night before the attack, he killed his mother and wife by stabbing them in the heart. In the morning, he went to the university, where he was once a student, entered the university's tower with a collection of rifles and handguns, killed three people inside and started taking shots at random people outside. He was eventually cornered by the police and shot and killed. He was a better marksman at hitting moving targets than stationary targets. During Whitman's autopsy, which he requested in a suicide note, it was discovered that he had a brain tumor which reportedly caused excruciating headaches. He killed a total of 16 people and injured 32.
- Seung-Hui Cho: The 23-year-old perpetrator of the Virginia Tech massacre, in which he committed two separate shootings with two semiautomatic pistols at his university, Virginia Tech, on April 16, 2007. After killing two students at West Ambler Johnston Hall, Cho mailed a package containing photos, videos, and documents made by him to NBC News before starting a mass shooting at Norris Hall after two hours, killing five professors and 25 students within a span of nine minutes; 23 students were also injured, 17 of them after sustaining gunshot wounds. Afterwards, Cho committed suicide after local authorities breached the building. The shootings were apparently motivated by bullying and mental instability, as well as inspired by the Columbine High School massacre. They also gained a large amount of media attention, both in the U.S. and in Cho's home country of South Korea.
- Adam Lanza: The 20-year-old perpetrator of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre on December 14, 2012. Armed with a Bushmaster XM-15 assault rifle and two semiautomatic pistols (a 10mm Glock and a 9mm SIG Sauer), he first killed his mother Nancy by shooting her repeatedly in the face at their home. He then drove to Sandy Hook Elementary School a few miles away and first opened fire on administrators, killing principal Dawn Hochsprung and school psychologist Mary Sherlach, before moving to a section of the school that housed the kindergarten and first-grade classrooms. There, he killed four adults and 20 children in two classrooms. Upon the arrival of police, Lanza committed suicide. A total of 27 people were killed and only two others, vice-principal Natalie Hammond and another, currently-unidentified adult, were injured. An investigation into Lanza's home life revealed that he was possibly suffering from Asperger's syndrome and that Nancy Lanza was a survivalist who armed herself with numerous firearms and kept her private life a secret.
- Jeff Weise: The 16-year-old perpetrator of the Red Lake massacre on March 21, 2005. Weise began his killing spree by shooting dead his grandfather Daryl Lussier, Sr. and Lussier's girlfriend Michelle Sigana in their house with a pistol. He then drove to his former school, Red Lake Senior High School, armed with two guns and a shotgun. He first killed a security guard at the entrance, and then entered an English classroom, shooting six students and the teacher. Weise then returned to the entrance where he killed two additional victims and then engaged in a shootout with responding officers, during which he was wounded. Weise took shelter in a vacant classroom, where he committed suicide. In the investigation, it was revealed that Weise had a dysfunctional family life, in which his unmarried parents were separated, his mother was an abusive alcoholic and was severely bullied in school. He also had a history of violent behavior at Red Lake Senior High that led to his expulsion and had threatened to commit a massacre there on the five-year anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre.
- Mitchell Johnson and Andrew Golden: The perpetrators of the Westside Middle School massacre, the deadliest shooting at an American middle school. On March 24, 1998, they, then 13 and 11 years old respectively, dressed in camouflage fatigues, set off a fire alarm and fired at students and teachers with rifles and handguns stolen from Golden's grandfather as they assembled outside. Five people, one of which was a teacher, were killed and an additional ten were wounded. All but one of the victims were female and one of them had rejected Golden's advances. Unlike most other school shooters, they then attempted to flee the scene in a van filled with sleeping bags, food, and gear, but were caught by police. Golden has been released and is now living under an assumed name. Johnson was also released, but was incarcerated again for various petty crimes such as theft, weapon possession, and drug possession.
- Kipland Kinkel: The then-15-year-old perpetrator of the Thurston High School shooting on May 21, 1998. The day prior to the shooting, he was expelled from school for being in possession of a loaded, stolen handgun. That afternoon, he executed both of his parents by shooting them with a Ruger 10/22 semiautomatic rifle. On the day of the shooting, Kinkel drove to Thurston High, armed with the Ruger rifle and two semiautomatic pistols. He first opened fire in the main hallway, then ran into the cafeteria, which was loaded with about 200 students, and continued the shooting spree. In total, two students were killed and 25 others were injured with the rifle. When he ran out of ammunition, he was subdued by seven students. Kinkel was sentenced to 111 years in prison without the possibility of parole, and recently, he sought a new trial, citing his lawyers' inability to bring up the insanity defense, as he was dyslexic and alleged to suffer from paranoid schizophrenia, but that request was denied.
In other countriesEdit
- Thomas Hamilton: The 43-year-old perpetrator of the Dunblane school massacre on March 13, 1996. He entered Dunblane Primary School in the Scottish town of Dunblane and opened fire with a total of four handguns, killing 17 people (16 children and one teacher) and injuring 15 others. He then committed suicide in the school gymnasium, where most of his victims were located. The following investigation revealed that Hamilton was a Scout leader with the Scout Association who was alleged by parents to have been engaging in pedophilic actions and behavior towards the boys he supervised. Prior to the massacre, Hamilton had complained in several letters about the failure of his shop business and his prevention from organizing a boys' club. The Dunblane massacre is infamous for being the deadliest school shooting in European history and one of the deadliest massacres in British history.
- Pekka-Eric Auvinen: The 18-year-old perpetrator of the Finnish Jokela school shooting on November 7, 2007. He entered the school and started shooting students and faculty members with a .22 semi-automatic handgun. At one point, he attempted to set the school on fire with gasoline, but failed. On another occasion, the school principal, Helena Kalmi tried to convince him to surrender, but was shot seven times and killed in front of the students. Forty minutes after beginning the shooting, Auvinen concluded the massacre by shooting himself in the head, and he died at a local hospital. Prior to the shooting, he had posted a number of threatening videos on YouTube under the username Sturmgeist89. In one of them, he showed off a gun and wore a T-shirt with the text "Humanity is overrated". The shooting apparently inspired a similar, more deadly school shooting in Finland less than a year later.
- Marc Lépine: The 25-year-old perpetrator of the École Polytechnique massacre on December 6, 1989. Armed with a Ruger Mini-14 rifle and a hunting knife, he arrived at École Polytechnique, an engineering school with the Université de Montréal in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and entered a mechanical engineering classroom with about 60 students, singling out the nine female students and shooting all of them. He then wandered around the school, shooting at any woman that came across him. Eventually, he also started shooting men as well. One woman was also fatally stabbed with the hunting knife. Twenty minutes after beginning his assault, Lépine committed suicide. 14 women were killed and 14 others (ten women and four men) were injured. Speculations about Lépine's motives varied: some said that since he specifically targeted women, he was an anti-feminist, but others say that his abusive childhood or an underlying mental illness provoked him.
- Tim Kretschmer: The 17-year-old perpetrator of a German killing spree in the towns of Winnenden and Wendlingen. On March 11, 2009, Kretschmer began his rampage at the Albertville-Realschule secondary school, where he murdered nine students and three teachers with a semiautomatic pistol, injuring an additional seven others. When officers arrived, Kretschmer fled the scene, killing a 56-year-old gardener and caretaker of a nearby psychiatric hospital, then carjacked a minivan in a parking lot, taking the driver hostage and forcing him to drive westward. The hostage managed to escape upon reaching Wendlingen, to which Kretschmer fled to a car showroom, where he killed two more victims. After engaging in a gun battle with arriving officers, Kretschmer then shot at numerous people and buildings before committing suicide. An investigation later revealed that Kretschmer was being treated as an outpatient for clinical depression. His rampage was apparently inspired by a killing spree in Geneva County, Alabama, which occurred exactly a day prior.
- Andrew Kehoe: The 55-year-old perpetrator of the Bath School bombings on May 18, 1927. After killing his wife by bludgeoning her to death and blowing up his farm and house, Kehoe arrived at Bath School and detonated dynamite and pyrotol he placed all over the school for months without detection, taking the lives of 36 students and two teachers. He then took his own life in a suicide car bombing that killed four additional people. In the aftermath, a student severely wounded by the bombings eventually died from the sustained injuries. All in all, 45 people were killed, including Kehoe; an additional 58 were injured. The bombings were the deadliest act of mass murder at a school in U.S. history, the third-deadliest terrorist act on U.S. soil, behind the 9/11 attacks and the Oklahoma City bombing, the first school bombing in world history, and the first suicide bombing in world history.
- Theodore Kaczynski, a.k.a. The Unabomber: A child prodigy who soon led a difficult and challenging adult life, which he blamed on modern urbanization. Deciding to take revenge on the system, Kaczynski mailed and planted several mail bombs to universities in the United States. His seventeen-year-long bombing spree killed three people and wounded an additional 23 others; it ended when his brother David, concerned about his behavior, turned him in to the authorities. This occurred about a week after Kaczynski sent a 50+-page manifesto to the media and demanding its publication. For a brief moment, Kaczynski was also considered as a suspect for being the Zodiac Killer, but he was cleared as he was living in Illinois at the time of the killings.
- Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold: The 18- and 17-year-old perpetrators of a large school shooting at their high school, Columbine High, on April 20, 1999. Their original plan, in which the goal was to outdo the Oklahoma City bombing and provoked by their anger at bullies and other students, was to kill over 500 students and faculty members by detonating two propane time-bombs inside the cafeteria and then open fire on them with semiautomatic weapons when the survivors were fleeing the school, and later detonate car bombs when police, emergency workers and press would arrive. When their bombs failed to detonate, they went inside and started shooting at them in there, also throwing pipe bombs, carbon dioxide bombs, and Molotov cocktails. After killing 12 students and one teacher, and also injuring 24, they committed suicide. The shooting is currently the fourth-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history and the deadliest massacre at an American high school. This is not the deadliest school massacre in world history, but it is the most notorious.
- Walter Seifert: Armed himself with a homemade flamethrower, lance, and mace and arrived at an unnamed Catholic elementary school in Cologne, Germany, on June 11, 1964, his 42nd birthday. There, he smashed the building's windows and fired the flamethrower into the classrooms, setting them on fire and killing eight students and a teacher. Seifert then killed a second teacher with his lance after she confronted him. 22 people, mostly students, were also injured in the attack. He then ingested a poisonous insecticide to commit suicide and died in the hospital. Seifert was motivated to commit the massacre after his wife died from childbirth in 1961 and he was diagnosed with schizophrenia induced by a worsening tuberculosis. He was under the belief that he was being treated unfairly by the government. His attacks have become a notable example of school massacres in which the perpetrator utilized weapons less deadlier than ones like firearms or explosives.
- Alex Hribal: The 16-year-old teenager who arrived at Franklin Regional High School on April 9, 2014, armed with two kitchen knives stolen from his home and wearing all-black clothing. There, he attacked dozens of students with the knives, wounding a total of 21; some of the first victims to be stabbed were initially unaware that they were actually attacked and that they were merely punched. He was then subdued by a security guard (who was also wounded) and an assistant principal. Prior to the attack, Hribal was described as being shy and quiet but also very intelligent. An investigation later turned up a possibility that he may have threatened two students by phone on the night prior to the attack, but neither student was wounded. He has been charged with four counts of attempted murder and nearly two dozen counts of aggravated assault, and is currently awaiting trial. Hribal's attorney is seeking a psychiatric evaluation.
On Criminal MindsEdit
- Season One:
- Cally's Tribe ("The Tribe"): In a delusional attempt to instigate an apocalyptic race war, six of Jackson Cally's followers attempted to commit a massacre at a Native American school with an arsenal of stolen shotguns, but they were stopped by Aaron Hotchner and John Blackwolf in a fight that left two of the followers dead, three incapacitated, and the sixth surrendering.
- Season Seven:
- Randy Slade ("Painless"): On October 12, 2001, Slade arrived at the cafeteria of his school, North Valley High, and fired four shots from a pistol, proceeding to take everyone present hostage. Killing three of his hostages by execution-style shooting, presumably injuring another and taunting other students, Slade then screamed, "I am God!" and detonated a SEMTEX bomb using his cell phone, committing suicide and killing ten more students and wounding dozens of others.
- Season Ten:
- Season Eleven:
- Michael Peterson ("Tribute"): In an attempt to emulate the M.O. of mass murderer Richard Speck, Michael took three girls hostage at Mason Hall, a sorority dorm in Northeast State University, and killed one of them by shooting her in the head with a .44 revolver. He then tried to kill the other two, firing another shot in the process, before being confronted and killed by the BAU.
"Injustice collectors" are a type of school shooter who are motivated by an intent to avenge perceived wrongdoings, as profiled by the BAU. In the show, injustice collectors do not actually attack a school directly, instead going after specific targets outside of the institutions.
- Season Three:
- Season Seven:
- Robert Adams ("Painless"): Robert was a survivor of the 2001 North Valley High School massacre (see above) and the only one to look the gunman Randy Slade in the eye without being shot. On the tenth anniversary of the massacre, he began targeting other, more popularized survivors as a means to get attention when his act of bravery during the massacre went unnoticed, thus enraging him.
- Chris Shelton ("Self-Fulfilling Prophecy"): After his son committed suicide after being bullied by his classmates at a military academy, Chris killed the five students who bullied him the most in a mass hanging.
- Season Nine:
- Ronald James Underwood ("Bully"): Underwood began targeting bullies and irresponsible adults whose actions contributed to the suicide of a friend of his during high school.
- Sheila Harrison ("What Happens in Mecklinburg"): Hoping to avenge the rape of her sister, who then slipped into a coma, Sheila abducted people whom she held responsible for the attack, including two of her sister's actual rapists. Holding them captive, she tortured them through various methods.
- Season Twelve:
- The deadliest school shooting in modern history was the Beslan massacre, which began on September 1, 2004 and ended violently two days later. In the incident, 32 armed separatist militants from the Riyadus-Salikhin Battalion took over 1,100 people inside School Number One, a.k.a. SNO, hostage; 777 of those hostages were children. Their leader, Chechen separatist warlord Shamil Basayev demanded the recognition of Chechnya's independence from Russia as well as Russia's withdrawal from the country. On the third day of the crisis, heavily-armed Russian security forces breached the building and engaged the militants, leaving all but one of them dead along with 334 hostages, including 186 children. Ten other civilians and at least ten special forces members were also killed in the course of the attack. An estimated 783 others were wounded. The sole surviving militant was captured and incarcerated. The incident prompted a heavy focus on Russian security and politics, including the consolidation of power in the Kremlin and the strengthening of the Russian President's powers.
- The earliest known U.S. school shooting was the Pontiac's Rebellion school massacre, in which four Lenape Native Americans attacked a schoolhouse located at what is now Greencastle, Pennsylvania, on July 26, 1764. Schoolmaster Enoch Brown and nine or ten children (sources vary between these numbers) were killed in the massacre, with only three children surviving. A park and memorial dedicated to the victims, called Enoch Brown Park, were constructed to commemorate the tragedy.
- The youngest known school shooter in modern history was Dedric Darnell Owens, who was six years old at the time of the shooting. On February 29, 2000, he brought a .32-caliber handgun and a knife to Buell Elementary School and fatally shot classmate Kayla Rolland after telling her, "I don't like you." Because he was one year too young to be found guilty of a felony, he was not convicted for the crime. A man living with Owens, on the other hand, was charged with involuntary manslaughter for leaving the gun within reach for Owens and served two and a half years in prison.
- Wikipedia’s articles about school shootings:
- School shooting
- Columbine High School massacre
- Jokela school shooting
- Kauhajoki school shooting
- Dunblane Primary School massacre
- University of Texas at Austin massacre
- Beslan massacre
- Winnenden school shooting
- École Polytechnique massacre
- Virginia Tech massacre
- Thurston High School shooting
- Westside Middle School massacre
- Bath School bombing
- Cologne Catholic school massacre
- Red Lake massacre
- Theodore Kaczynski
- Dedric Darnell Owens
- Franklin Regional High School stabbing
- School shooting
- The School Shooter: A Threat Assessment Perspective
- Rampage School Shooters: A Typology