How Columbine ‘Contagion’ Attracts Other School Shooters

The school-shooting copycat syndrome has steadily escalated in recent years. Young men, many of them depressed, alienated or mentally disturbed, are drawn to the Columbine subculture because they see it as a way to get the attention of a society that they believe bullies, ignores or misunderstands them.

The reasons why a teenage gunman shot his fellow students and teachers at Santa Fe, Tx., High School remain a mystery, but his model for carrying it out is clearer, reports the New York Times. The 17-year-old junior wore a black trench coat and fired a sawed-off shotgun, the same attire and weaponry used by the two gunmen who killed a dozen students and a teacher in 1999 at Colorado’s Columbine High School. He wore a T-shirt with the phrase “Born to Kill” on it in bold, similar to those worn by the Columbine attackers, which read “Wrath” and “Natural Selection.” His arsenal included canisters of carbon-dioxide gas and Molotov cocktails, two types of explosives used by the Columbine gunmen.

The school-shooting copycat syndrome has steadily escalated in recent years. Young men, many of them depressed, alienated or mentally disturbed, are drawn to the Columbine subculture because they see it as a way to get the attention of a society that they believe bullies, ignores or misunderstands them. “The phenomenon is feeding on itself,” said Peter Langman, a psychologist who runs the website SchoolShooters.info. “It’s gaining momentum, and the more there are, the more there will be.” Sue Klebold, the mother of a teenage gunman in Columbine, says, “I do believe there is a contagion.” The motivations that culminate in school shootings are more complex than simple copycat crimes. “Maybe he got the trench coat idea from Columbine, but not the will to kill,” said criminologist James Alan Fox of Northeastern University. “Seeing someone else do something won’t take a perfectly happy individual and make him decide to pick up a gun and go shoot students.”

from https://thecrimereport.org