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Monday, October 17, 2011

This Year's Mass Murder and Killing Spree Cases

     The term "mass murder" pertains to cases involving two or more victims killed in a single incident at one location. (Cases in which a killer murders more than two with a cooling off period between each homicide are called serial killings.) A "spree killing" consists of murders at two or more locations with a little time between each of the homicides. Sometimes these events are referred to in the media as homicidal rampages. Mass murderers and spree killers fall generally into three groups: family annihilators, paramilitary enthusiasts, and disgruntled workers.

     While homicide rates in most jurisdictions have been falling or staying the same, there seems to have been more mass murders and spree killings this year than usual. Moreover, the victim counts in these cases have been startingly high. The motive common to most of these cases is pathological hatred and rage. Unlike serial killers who are cold-blooded and organized, mass murderers and spree killers are often mentally ill and out of control. Quite often these killers take their own lives or are shot to death by the police. These cases almost never go unsolved and grab a lot of media attention. When taken alive, these homicidal subjects usually plead not guilty by reason of insanity. 

     Allthough it is impossible to predict who will go off the deep end and start shooting people, most of these killers have histories of violence and/or mental illness. And no matter how much we militarize our police forces, the spree killing and mass murdering will continue. It's a troubled population, not a lack of policing that is causing all of this mayhem. The following is a summary of this year's most deadly cases:

January 8, 2011
Tuscon, Arizona
     Jared Loughner, a 23-year-old schizophrenic, shot six people to death and wounded thirteen at a political event outside a supermarket. Because one of his nonfatal victims was U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, this mass murder received even more media attention than usual. The crime also engendered an endless wave of sophomoric talk about toning down political rhetoric deemed too violent by certain politicians and media wags. Loughner's attorneys say his is too mentally ill to be tried for murder.

February 12, 2011
Brooklyn, New York
     Maksim Gelman, an Ukranian immigrant, stabbed and killed his stepmother, his ex-girlfriend and her mother in their apartment. He stabbed aman in the process of stealing his car, then killed a pedestrian by running him over. Before being arrested, Gelman stabbed six other people. The obsessive 23-year-old had been stalking his ex-girlfriend for weeks. Police arrested Gelman without incident.

July 7, 2011
Grand Rapids, Michigan
     Thirty-four-year-old Rodrick Dantzler shot and killed his former girlfriend, his estranged wife, his 12-year-old daughter, and four others. Before taking his own life, Dantzler wounded two others. In his suicide note, Dantzler blamed his mother-in-law for breaking up his marriage. He had a history of cocaine abuse.

August 7, 2011
Copley, Ohio
     For reasons that remain a mystery, Michael Hance, 51, fatally shot seven people. He also shot and wounded his girlfriend. He killed two teenage girls, an 11-year-old boy, and four adults. Police officers shot him to death.

September 6, 2011
Carson City, Nevada
     Eduardo Sencion, a Mexican citizen with a valid U.S. passport, fired sixty shots in an IHOP restaurant, killing four and wounding seven. Three of those killed by Sencion were members of the Nevada National Guard. The mass murder ended with Sencion killing himself. According to his family, he had struggled with mental illness.

September 25, 2011
Laurel, Maryland
     David Ison, 46, shot and killed four members of the Napier family, and one other person, in the Napier's moble home. Taken into custody, he his being held on $5 million bond. His motive has not been revealed.

September 26, 2011
Everett, Washington
     David Pederson, 31 and his 24-year-old girlfriend, Holly Grigsby, shot and killed Pederson's father and the father's wife in Everett. A few days later they killed two other people in California. Police arrested the couple several days later in Yuba County, California. According to media reports, Pederson is a white supremacist who hates jews.

October 4, 2011
Crow Agency, Montana
     On the Crow Indian Reservation, 22-year-old Sheldon Chase shot to death his grandmother, his cousin and his cousin's best friend. Mentally ill and off his medication, Chase was arrested without a fight.

October 5, 2011
Cupertino, Texas
     Shareef Allman shot nine of his co-workers at a cement plant, killing three. He was angry at being assigned night duty. A few days later Allman was killed by the police. People who knew Allman are shocked he was capable of  mass murder.

October 12, 2011
Seal Beach, California
     Forty-two-year-old Scott Evans walked into a hair salon and shot nine people, killing eight. One of his victims was his ex-wife. According to people who knew the couple, Evans had a history of wife abuse. It is believed this mass murder was motivated by revenge. When the police arrested Evans he offered no resistence.  

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