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Cold blooded killers, p.3
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       Cold Blooded Killers, p.3

           R. J. Parker
 
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  The U.S. Department of Education reported that, in 1997, nearly 6,300 students were expelled from American schools for carrying firearms. As evidenced by many of the recent reports about school violence, several students chose to express their anger in caustic ways.

  Many schools have responded to the threat of increasing violence by tightening security, installing spiked fences, motorized gates, bulletproof metal-covered doors, metal detectors, and security guards who search student desks and lockers. Some students and even faculty complain that this only creates prisons out of the schools. Most schools have hired more counselors and violence prevention coordinators.

  Besides prescription drugs, few preventative efforts are being made to help students with the various psychological and emotional needs they may have before they erupt into a crisis situation. Sometimes teenagers see no alternative but violence to solve their escalating internal and, sometimes, external problems.

  Revenge seems to be a common thread that runs through all of these massacres. Retribution is rooted in a sense of real or perceived injustice towards the perpetrator of the shooting. Many school shootings are generated by a desire for revenge against society, fed by a simmering anger over being denied a perceived entitlement to respect or personal recognition.

  All of the teenage school shooters have been deeply influenced by mass media, usually in the form of video games and movies. Both media forms tend to be very vivid, intense, and increasingly violent. Teenagers growing up in the late 20th century and early 21st are immersed in an extremely hostile environment for the mind. This mental environment is especially hazardous for the young mind that is not fully developed, lacking the experience needed for balance and proportional decision-making.

  When kids suffer abuse at home from parents and siblings, they often then go to school and suffer bullying from peers and an endless series of dictates from teachers. They begin to feel trapped as they can’t avoid abuse no matter where they turn. In addition, they see that the authority at home is part of the problem, and authority at school is either unconcerned or inadequate at helping them. They gradually realize that authority is fundamentally two-faced as it is not based on kind guidance as officially stated, but instead is based on controlling and exploiting the less powerful.

  Consequently, these kids begin to perceive that the world is towering over them and abusing the weak. Feeling trapped and powerless, they naturally search for a way out. The easiest and most effective way to acquire power is to obtain something powerful like a gun. Kids easily believe that using a gun is an effective method for resolving their problems. Every movie, video game, and television show they watch depicts the world through this foolish one-dimensional lens of power expression and problem resolution via deadly violence. These kids believe that it is acceptable to mimic these performances at a school shooting as other students have set this precedent.

  - 5 - Seung-Hui Cho

  VIRGINIA TECH MASSACRE

  Born on January 18th, 1984, at the time of his rampage, Cho was a senior-level undergraduate student at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State.

  In middle school, he was diagnosed with a severe anxiety disorder known as Selective Mutism, as well as a major depressive disorder. After his diagnosis, he began receiving treatment, and continued to receive therapy and special education support until his junior year of high school. Two students complained to authorities about the behavior of Cho in separate incidents in 2005. Police questioned Cho and he was sent to a mental health facility, but no charges were filed against him.

  General District Court records show that a Montgomery County magistrate ordered Cho, then twenty-three years old, to undergo a mental evaluation in December of 2005. The magistrate found probable cause that Cho was “mentally ill,” and an “imminent danger to him and others,” seriously mentally ill enough as to be unable to care for himself.

  The police spoke with acquaintances of Cho and became concerned that he might be suicidal. Officers suggested to Cho that he speak to a counselor, and Cho took their advice. Based on his meeting with the counselor, Cho went to the police department voluntarily; a temporary detention order was obtained, and Cho was taken to a mental health facility, the Carilion Saint Albans Behavioral Health Center.

  During Cho's last two years at Virginia Tech, several instances of his abnormal behavior, including plays and other writings he submitted, contained references to violence that caused concern among teachers and classmates. Detectives believe that Cho Seung-Hui was obsessed with eighteen year old student Emily Hilscher, one of his first two victims. Cho apparently had become infatuated by her.

  Dressed more like a boy scout than a mass murderer, Cho arrived at Hilscher’s dormitory room early Monday morning on April 16th. It is unclear whether Emily Hilscher had responded to her killer's approaches. Cho, jealous of Emily's boyfriend, gunned her down. Another student, Ryan Clark, rushed to help after hearing his neighbor arguing with Cho, and the twenty-two year old died alongside her.

  Cho then went back to his room where he used his computer to assemble an 1800 word written statement, videos, and photographs of himself, which he then packaged up and mailed for overnight delivery to NBC news in New York via the small post office near the main gates of the campus. The package was time stamped at 9:01 a.m. He then went back to his dorm room and collected his weapons.

  Around 9:45 a.m., two hours after his first killings, Cho entered Norris Hall and proceeded to chain the three main exits to the building shut. He placed a note on at least one of the chained doors, claiming that any attempts to open the door would cause a bomb to explode. In Room 206, professor G.V. Loganathan was teaching advanced hydrology when he was shot and killed by Cho along with nine students; another two were injured.

  In Room 207, professor Christopher James Bishop was teaching Elementary German when Cho burst into the room, shot the professor, and killed four students in the first row of the classroom, wounding another six.

  In the stairwell, Cho fired at Janitor Gene Cole and missed five times, according to the janitor. Cho then moved on to Norris 204 where Cho was initially prevented from entering by barricades erected by instructors and students. Professor Liviu Librescu, a Holocaust survivor, forcibly prevented Cho from entering the room. Librescu was able to hold the door closed until most of his students escaped through the windows, but he died after being shot multiple times through the door. Student, Nicole Regina White, was also killed while another student was injured.

  Cho proceeded to Room 211 where Professor Jocelyne Couture-Nowak was teaching Intermediate French. Again, people attempted to block the door, but the Professor and another student were killed.

  Students, including Zach Petkewicz, barricaded the door of room 205 with a large table after substitute professor Haiyan Cheng and a student saw Cho heading toward them. Cho shot several times through the door but failed to force his way in. No one in that classroom was wounded or killed.

  Hearing the commotion on the floor below, Professor Kevin Granata brought twenty students from a nearby classroom into a third-floor office where the door could be locked. He then went downstairs to investigate and Cho fatally shot him. None of the students locked in Granata's office were injured.

  Virginia Tech and Blacksburg police spent three minutes dashing across campus to the scene. They then began the process of assembling a team, clearing the area, and trying to break through the doors, which took another five minutes. After they blasted through the chained doors with shotguns, Cho put a bullet through his head and died in a classroom alongside thirty of his victims.

  In total, Cho fired 174 rounds of ammunition. Each student killed was shot at least three times each.

  The police enter the scene to find Cho dead and in possession of a 9mm semi-automatic and a .22 caliber handgun, as well as multiple rounds of ammunition and several knives. Among the items found in Cho's backpack was prescription medication for treatment of psychological problems and a note denouncing “rich kids.”


  - 6 - Charles Whitman

  CLOCK TOWER SNIPER

  Charles Joseph Whitman, born June 24th, 1941, was a student at the University of Texas and a former Marine. He grew up in an upper-middle class family headed by a father who owned a successful plumbing business in Lake Worth, Florida. Whitman excelled academically and was well liked by his peers and neighbors. There were underlying dysfunctional issues within his family, however, that escalated in 1966 when his mother left his father and moved to Texas. The older Whitman was a controlling man who was known to become physically and emotionally abusive to his wife and children.

  Charles Whitman's frustrations with his dysfunctional family were complicated by abuse of amphetamines and health issues including headaches. A glioblastoma, a highly aggressive brain tumor, was discovered during Whitman’s autopsy. Experts have concluded that it may have played a role in his actions. Whitman was also affected by a court martial as a United States Marine, his failings as a student at the University of Texas, his ambitious personal expectations, and his psychotic mental state.

  Several months prior to the shootings, he was summoned to Lake Worth, Florida, to pick up his mother who was filing for divorce from his father. The stress caused by the break-up of the family became the dominant discussion between Whitman and a psychiatrist at the University of Texas Health Center on March 29th, 1966.

  Whitman enrolled in the mechanical engineering program at the University of Texas on September 15th, 1961, through a USMC scholarship. His hobbies at this point included karate, scuba diving, and hunting. This last hobby got him into trouble at the University when he shot a deer, dragged it to his dormitory, and skinned it in his shower. Due to this incident, and sub-standard grades, Whitman's scholarship was withdrawn in 1963.

  In August 1962, Whitman married Kathleen Frances Leissner, another University of Texas student, in a wedding that was held in Leissner's hometown of Needville, Texas. The following year, he returned to active duty at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, where he was both promoted to Lance Corporal and involved in an accident in which his Jeep rolled over an embankment.

  In November of 1962, Whitman was court-martialed for gambling, possessing a personal firearm on base, and threatening another Marine over a thirty dollar loan for which Whitman demanded fifteen dollars interest. He was sentenced to thirty days of confinement, ninety days of hard labor, and demoted to the rank of Private.

  In December, 1964, honorably discharged from the Marines, Whitman returned to the University of Texas and enrolled in the Architectural Engineering program. He worked as a bill collector for Standard Finance and later as a bank teller at Austin National Bank. In January, 1965, he took a temporary job with Central Freight Lines and worked as a traffic surveyor for the Texas Highway Department. He also volunteered as a Scoutmaster for Austin Scout Troop five while Kathy worked as a biology teacher at Lanier High School.

  In May of 1966, Whitman's mother contacted Charles and because of several disagreements she had with his father, she announced she was filing for a divorce. Whitman drove to Florida to help his mother move to back to Austin, where she found work in a cafeteria. The move prompted his youngest brother, John, to leave Lake Worth as well, but his brother Patrick decided to continue living at home and working for their father at his plumbing supply business.

  Whitman's father began to telephone him several times a week, pleading with him to convince his mother to return to Lake Worth, but Charles refused. The day before the shootings, Whitman purchased binoculars and a knife from a hardware store, and Spam from a 7-Eleven. He then picked up his wife from her summer job as a Bell operator, and met his mother for lunch at the Wyatt Cafeteria near the campus.

  Around 4:00 p.m., on July 31st, they visited friends, John and Fran Morgan, who lived in the same neighborhood, leaving at approximately 5:50 so that Kathy Whitman wouldn’t be late for her 6:00–10:00 p.m. shift that night. At 6:45, Whitman began typing his suicide note, a portion of which read:

  I do not quite understand what it is that compels me to type this letter. Perhaps it is to leave some vague reason for the actions I have recently performed. I do not really understand myself these days. I am supposed to be an average reasonable and intelligent young man. However, lately (I cannot recall when it started) I have been a victim of many unusual and irrational thoughts.

  The note explained that he had decided to murder both his mother and his wife, but made no mention of the coming attacks at the university. Expressing uncertainty about his actual reasons, he nevertheless observed that he felt he wanted to relieve Kathy and his mother Margaret from the suffering of the world.

  Just after midnight, Whitman rendered his mother unconscious and then stabbed her in the heart. He left a handwritten note beside her body, which read in part:

  To Whom It May Concern: I have just taken my mother's life. I am very upset over having done it. However, I feel that if there is a heaven she is definitely there now...I am truly sorry...Let there be no doubt in your mind that I loved this woman with all my heart.

  Whitman returned to his home at 906 Jewell Street and stabbed his wife Kathy three times in the heart as she slept, returning to the typewritten note he had begun earlier, which he then finished by hand, writing,

  I imagine it appears that I brutally killed both of my loved ones. I was only trying to do a quick thorough job...If my life insurance policy is valid please pay off my debts, donate the rest anonymously to a mental health foundation. Maybe research can prevent further tragedies of this type.

  Whitman also requested that an autopsy be done after his death to determine if there had been anything to explain his actions and increasing headaches. He also wrote notes to each of his brothers and his father, and left instructions in the apartment that the two canisters of film he left on the table should be developed, and that the puppy, Schocie, should be given to Kathy's parents.

  At 5:45 a.m. on Monday, August 1st, 1966, Whitman phoned Kathy's supervisor at Bell to explain that she was sick and could not make her shift that day. He made a similar phone call to Margaret's workplace about five hours later.

  Whitman rented a hand truck from Austin Rental Company and cashed $250 of worthless checks at the bank before going to Davis' Hardware and purchasing an M1 carbine, explaining that he wanted to go hunting for wild hogs. He then went to Sears and purchased a shotgun and a green rifle case. After sawing off the shotgun barrel – while chatting with the mail carrier – Whitman packed it with a Remington 700 6mm bolt-action hunting rifle with a 4x Leupold Scope, an M1 carbine, a Remington .35 caliber pump rifle, and various other equipment, in a wooden crate and his Marine footlocker. He also had a .357 Magnum revolver, 9mm German Luger, and another small caliber pistol on his person.

  Before heading to the tower, Whitman donned khaki coveralls over his shirt and jeans. Pushing the rented dolly carrying his equipment, he met security guard Jack Rodman and obtained a parking pass, claiming he had a delivery to make. He showed Rodman a card identifying him as a research assistant for the school.

  Whitman entered the Main Building shortly after 11:30 a.m. He struggled with the elevator until an employee, Vera Palmer, informed him that it had not been powered and turned it on for him. He thanked her and took the elevator to the 27th floor of the tower, just one floor beneath the clock face.

  Whitman then lugged the dolly up one long flight of stairs to the hallway that led to a doglegged stairway that went up to the observation deck area. Edna Townsley, the receptionist on duty, observing Whitman’s trunk, asked if he had his University work identification. Whitman knocked her unconscious with the butt of his rifle and dragged her body behind a sofa. She later died from her injuries at Seton Hospital. Moments later, Cheryl Botts and Don Walden, a young couple who had been sightseeing on the deck, returned to the receptionist area and encountered Whitman holding a rifle in each hand. Botts later claimed that she believed that the large red stain on the floor was varnish, and that Whitman was there to shoot
pigeons. Whitman and the young couple exchanged hellos and the couple left for the elevators. When they were gone, Whitman barricaded the stairway and donned his white sweatband.

  Two families, the Gabours and Lamports, were on their way up the stairs when they encountered Whitman’s barricade. Michael Gabour was attempting to look beyond the barricade when Whitman fired the sawed-off shotgun at him, hitting him in the left side of his neck and shoulder region, sending him over the staircase railing onto other family members. Whitman fired the sawed-off shotgun two more times through grates on the stairway into the families as they tried to run back down the stairs. Mark Gabour and his aunt, Marguerite Lamport, died instantly. Michael was partially disabled and his mother was permanently disabled.

  The first shots from the tower's outer deck came at approximately 11:48 a.m. A history professor was the first to phone the Austin Police Department after he saw several students in the South Mall center gunned down. Many others had dismissed the rifle reports, not realizing there was directed gunfire. Eventually, the shootings caused panic as news spread and all active police officers in Austin were ordered to the campus. Other off-duty officers, Travis County Sheriff's deputies, and Texas Department of Public Safety troopers, also converged on the area to assist.

  About twenty minutes later, once Whitman began facing return fire from the authorities and armed civilians who had brought out their personal firearms to assist police, he used the waterspouts on each side of the tower as gun ports. These allowed him to continue shooting largely protected from the gunfire below, but it greatly limited his range of targets below.

  Ramiro Martinez, an officer who participated that morning, later stated that the civilian shooters should be credited as they made it difficult for Whitman to take careful aim. Police lieutenant Marion Lee, reporting from a small airplane, noted that there was a single sniper firing from the observation deck. The airplane circled the tower while Lee tried to shoot Whitman, but turbulence made it difficult for him to get a clear shot. The airplane, piloted by Jim Boutwell, was hit by Whitman's rifle fire but continued to circle the tower from a safe distance until the end of the incident.

 
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