I Know the Next Shooter

I know the next shooter.

man-watching-tv-in-darkHe’s white, between 19 and 25.  He is thin and doesn’t do much with his hair.  It usually looks kind of messed, wavy, but he might have a buzzcut now.  It’s hard to say because he doesn’t leave the house much.  I think he’s an only child, not from a big family.  He is known to be very smart, perhaps brilliant, but socially awkward and withdrawn.

He enjoys computers, where a virtual world is more comfortable.  He either has been or is about to begin seeing a therapist, maybe even takes some medications to help him cope.  He either argues with his parents or just seems indifferent to them.  Classmates from high school barely remember him because he did very little to stand out.  He feels ignored, unwanted, and disliked.  Nobody notices him much.  Few remember his name.  He feels insignificant, as if he doesn’t even make a shadow when he walks in the sun.

Most important is that today – right now – he’s watching television.  He’s watching CNN and other channels.  He’s seeing the attention the Connecticut shooter is getting.  It’s the attention the next shooter never got in school because he didn’t know what to do to get that attention.

But he knows now.

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145 thoughts on “I Know the Next Shooter

  1. Reblogged this on ironwoodwind and commented:
    If you want to do something, read this and make your voice heard. We support and enable the very media ‘ecosystem’ that encourages the next shooter. Is this the world you want? Was it ‘news’? Vultures.

    Thanks to Rich for giving me permission to re-blog this. Needs to be shouted from the rooftops, but you won’t hear it on CNN.



  2. Rich,

    In my haste to reblog i omitted a question mark after, ‘was it news?’ suppose you could fix that for me. Thanks.

    Also missed in my desire to reblog fast was that you writing in this was really good. The way you led us to the powerful conclusion was seamless and well crafted. Kudos to you. A knockout piece.



  3. I get real uncomfortable with various media outlets competing over tragedies. We see microphones shoved in little kids faces, parents who understandably cannot control their emotions and the producers looking at these scenes as ratings gold. There is no longer any such thing as covering a story/news with dignity because the news is now a business. So I agree with your premise that by playing this stuff up to crazy levels, we are in fact inciting more of the same behavior by the disenfranchised of society.

    I will say however that the extraordiary kindness and support that has come out of all this is something to behold and note. Most of us are good people and try to hold up those affected. Would we reach these levels of kindness if we were not tuned in? I don’t have that answer but your take on this discussion is thoughtful in many directions.

    • really? dropped? that is hard to believe. last year the FBI processed over 16 million new gun applications. this year it’s about to hit 17 million new ones. at least that’s what CNN said.

      • I can’t remember where I read it, but yes, dropped. I’ll see if I can dig up the stat. Possibly I got it wrong though.

        New gun apps is really an “unclean” stat, because this could be existing owners buying new weapons. At one point I owned 4 handguns and one shotgun all bought within the same year. That would have equated to 5 “new” apps for one owner.

      • Yes, I believe so. Each application is for a specific weapon, and does not equate to a new owner necessarily.

  4. I avoid most 24-hour news outlets because they are like runaway trains with an unknown destination. I tend to lean towards NPR. But I did watch Anderson Cooper Monday night. He made a point to say they are not focusing on the shooter to avoid just this situation. I appreciate that. But sometimes, I will go to FOX News just to see what the fuck they are saying and front on center on their website are questions about the shooter and the meds he may or may not have been taking. They never fail to surprise me.

    • i would be honored if you did that. thanks very much. i held my anger and post a few days. i had written out a longer piece that talked about gun myths and the usual talking points. but it didn’t feel like it was gelling well. so this came out instead.

  5. excellent, and he has watched 10,000 hours of movies and csi type TV shows where the most horrific murders are staged over and over. He has thrilled to snipe and blast in multiple computer games. And online, his nihilistic friends reaffirm him and egg him on.

    • i thought about the shooter games, but there were some who committed their crimes before those games existed, so i just left it at a reference to computers in general. but you’re right.

  6. Reblogged this on erinleary and commented:
    Sharing another major aspect in the perpetuation of these tragedies. When you combine guns with the saturation effect of the media frenzy and the attention the shooter gets, it is a deadly combination.

    Thanks, Rich, for allowing this to be shared.

  7. Well said. I haven’t watched the news about any of it for this reason…there is so much I would like to say…much to the sentiment of your words. I have read so many thoughts on FB of hatred and judgment around this person, this issue, and I just want to say, we are all capable, sadly, capable. Thanks, Rich…so well expressed.

  8. Rich, my brother Ron M. (on my facebook friends list) posted a link to a picture and statement by the actor Morgan Freeman who said much the same about the over saturated coverage of the media on the shooting with so much more attention drawn to the shooter/killer than on the victims. He made the point that we always remember more the name of the killer rather than remember the names of the victims because of the celebrity status given to the killer. I really believe the victims families hate hearing all of the excess coverage too, and would prefer people to pray for them for healing from this than having the media to use them as ‘prey’ for their ratings they are always seeking after.

    • there are few good moves that can be made in these situations, but there are many bad moves. we can’t always make a good move, but at least we can avoid the bad ones if we try hard enough. even a little.

      also, from what i’ve heard, that morgan freeman statement might have been a hoax. i don’t know for sure, but someone i know of FB said it, and that means – maybe? not sure.

      • That would be sad if it were a hoax. I always love his movies and acting. But, it seems that a lot of celebrities are often afraid to reveal their true self and opinions on matters. Too many people in the world wear a mask or face all too different than what they believe. I hope Morgan Freeman is sharing his real thoughts on the shooting and opinions of the media. Thanks for the reply, Rich, as always. Have fun with the FF story this week. It is cute with the cat. The cat looks exactly like my daughter’s cat, Bobcat.

      • oh, i haven’t seen the picture yet. thanks for the reminder. i don’t mind when celebrities speak out. i hear a lot of people say, “just shut up and sing/act/dance or whatever they do.” i think it’s good for anyone to speak up, as long as they do it with thought and the right way. a dialogue, willing to listen as well as speak.

  9. Hi Rich,
    I’ve been puzzling over what to say about this tragedy, but now I don’t have to because you said it so well. I also want to re-blog this because it’s something that needs to be spread far and wide. Of course, the media is going to cover this, but they are doing overkill (no pun intended) in their saturation coverage. You pointed out the most evil aspect of this practice of running stories into the ground. Thanks for posting this. Ron

  10. An intuitive point in your original thoughts, “He feels insignificant, as if he doesn’t even make a shadow when he walks in the sun.”
    I think the mental health avenue is the way to healing. I’m a little creeped out by everyone wanting to reblog this because it feels like your picture of the scene – like the point you were making, right?…just a little eerie. Maybe though, the next shooter doesn’t read blogs too! Nevertheless, you do make a point that we know what to do, or not do…and we know where to look. Now what? Take care Rich, Jayne

    • i find it a compliment that others would reblog it. it’s just another way of spreading a message. i’ll have to think if i can see the creepy side of it. i doubt it, but i’ll have to think. regardless, thanks for reading. and feeling.

      • I meant that reblogging was spreading the news about the shooter- exactly what you pointed out. I think its an observation on our nature though. We want to understand yet at the same time its feeding the reasoning to use a socially shocking target for attention. Please know, it was nothing personal.

      • oh, i know it was nothing personal. no problem. all good. and i now see that i missed your original point, about spreading news. however, it might be a little different in this context because i’m not really spreading the information about the individual, like the news is doing. It’s a little more anonymous in what i wrote, but i now see your point more clearly. thanks.

  11. I completely agree that we’re giving the shooter way too much “recognition” and attention. It’s ridiculous. I can’t stand watching the news because they don’t let up.

  12. I agree it’s a problem with a 24-hour news cycle. I still the biggest problem is the abundance of guns available without a background check, guns that no one has any business owning. When I hear people say we need more guns? I get pretty angry. This mother had no business having guns in her home with her son who obviously had some psychological issues she was aware of. It’s all so tragic.

    • some states have background checks, but not all. i was told that in my state, NJ, it takes about a month to actually get the weapon, but i can’t say it’s a fact. but if it is a fact, then it’s one of the few things NJ has done correctly.

      • Oh, Rich. I’ve been some articles. 40% of guns sold in this country are sold by unlicensed dealers and are done without background checks. These are the guns that get into the hands of criminals. Crazy! There’s an average of 83 or 87 (seen both numbers) deaths EVERYDAY due to gun violence, including 8 children everyday. These stats speak for themselves.

      • It doesn’t mean you can’t try to regulate it. That can only improve things. I’m so mad at people who say the answer is more guns. All we have to do is look at other countries and their gun policies. They don’t have this problem. In fact, there is no comparison. We have more gun deaths in a day than they do in a year. Obviously, I’m anti-gun, but if we going to have guns, there should be stricter laws.

      • yes, and the gun advocates will say “but people like these shooters don’t care about laws and will work around them.” and they’re right, that will happen, but that doesn’t mean you do nothing at all.

  13. Reblogging if that’s okay. As a teacher on hiatus this year I have tried to wrap my head around this tragedy. No one solution can prevent this from happening again, but this insight into the “profile” is something we all know yet is rarely in the media whatsoever. Well done.

  14. Reblogged this on Big Green Meanie and commented:
    I’m trying to move on but again hearing all the solutions to this tragedy just makes me more sad and angry. My next post I plan to be a little more “merry” but for now, here’s one reblog that makes me think. I hope it makes you think too.

    • i didn’t have cable for a long time, until i got rid of my home phone, which got rid of my internet connection (12 years ago, about) so i then got cable internet service. it was about $50 a month for cable internet, and they threw in about 100 channels for another $3. big sports fan, and it gave me a ton of games for just $3, and i went for it. oh well.

      at my place by the beach i have a couple of tv’s but only dvd players, no cable or antenna, so people visiting can put in a disney movie or something to help their kids fall asleep if necessary.

      • We have cable internet, just no tv. Not judging television ownership, just saying that the 24 hour news cycle is one of the reasons we opted to not have one, anymore.

      • i easily take radio any day. love radio more than anything. talk shows sometimes, sports talk, baseball games, music of course, etc. i call in to news/talk shows constantly.

      • I’ve only called into a radio show twice and only because my friend’s band was being interviewed both times. I’m not that daring.

      • i listen to hosts from both side of the political aisle, and i often call to either support arguments, disagree with idiots (in my opinion), and toss in my two cents. last week the hot topic was if E-Z bake ovens should be marketed to boys. i had to call in when i heard a guy say, “this is why our kids are turning gay. we’re giving the wrong toys to our kids.”

      • “Ya know, I never really thought about being gay, until I was about, oh, 8. I got an E-Z Bake oven and, well, it just gave me such a rush of femininity and estrogen that I decided to love men in a romantic way.” Makes perfect sense.

  15. I know this young man you describe. He may be the young man still living at home with me because he is so awkward in the real world.
    We (yes with the help of a therapist and medication) are working on learning empathy, which seems to be extremely helpful as he is realizing that it’s not just him that is hurt in a ‘fit of uncontrollable anger’….
    We made it thru today.

    • i’ve worked in schools with young men like this. and at the end of almost every day, the other teachers and i looked at each other and silently acknowledged, “we made it through the day. still in one piece.” but that was a lot easier than what you are going through.

  16. Some will argue it’s the media’s “duty” to cover these events and the media isn’t the “cause” of the act. While technically accurate, the way in which the media covers these acts is most certainly not the best way and does contribute to the next shooter’s act. We need the media to be responsible, and that means we must be as well.

    I’ve always said anyone who buys the tabloids to read about the latest celebrity scandals and see “candid” photos is as responsible for Princess Diana’s death as the irresponsible “journalists” and her drunk driver.

    • yes, there is a job for the media. report the facts, add updates, but we don’t need 24/7 that glorifies the criminals while attempting to honor the victims. thanks for reading.

  17. Great post, Rich. A friend on mine in the Fire Department told me they didn’t publize fires that they suspected were arson–it only gratifies the arsonist and encourages others to follow his lead for attention. Obviously, the same hold true here.

    • thanks, sir. never knew that about the fire dept. good move, just like – on a much smaller scale of significance – when they don’t show the clowns who run on a baseball field during a game.

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  19. Rich,
    I know I am a little late to the game on this one but this piece stuck with me. I read this the other day and didn’t comment but I spoke about it with a drink buddy of mine the other night over a few drinks. Your observations are dead on, seems so apparent but are completely overlooked in “normal” dialogue about tragedies like Sandy Hook. Hats off…. a great Post.

  20. Rich,
    Tonight I will be drinking with the girlfriend. It will be just the two of us tonight, a good meal and a nice gentle slide into the new year. I will tip a few in your name as well. Happy New year.


    • i had gotten a reservation for a fancy restaurant party at $200 a couple, but i cancelled and instead with hang with only a few good friends, beer, midget hotdogs, and other relaxed things. probably watch some monty python, maybe ‘the big lebowski,” stuff like that.

  21. Rich,
    We were gonna go to a party or two but my girlfriend went out of town after Christmas to PA., wound up getting sick and her son lost her keys. Long story short, couldn’t get a locksmith or an overnight delivery so yesterday I drove down to Pa and back from the east end of Long Island to bring her keys. Both of us have no kids for the holiday for the first time in four years. She’ll have a drink or two and I will do the partying for the both us. All the best in the New Year. Enjoy your friends and drinks. I’ll enjoy the peace and spirits.


    • my kids are with my ex. i’ll hang with people who’s kids are grown and moved out, so it’ll be all adults. long island to PA? heck of a drive. i grew up about 5 minutes from the lincoln tunnel, up that way. and last week i drove up to boston and back to get my kid from college. next week i’ll probably drive her back up again so i’ll be passing up 95. i’ll wave from the highway.

  22. Yeah man just missed the hour delay on the George Washington by taking the lower level. My girl is about mid island but I am way out east on the north fork It’s about 120 miles just to get off the Island for me….You can wave but do it about half way through Conn…..I may see you from across the island if I am at my girls place. Wave from New London as well cause I could be at my place.

  23. Well said. Knowing that their name will be remembered after their death is a big factor to many who search for a way to be heard. I sometimes thinks that if we delete their names, refuse to air their pictures or dig into their life, they would lose the allure of being heard, being recognized. Police, FBI, Lawyers and judges need to be privy to the person and their life, but we don’t.

    We are dealing with this very issue in Ohio. A newspaper printed a map showing every licensed gun owner in town. The article gives their name and address. Why don’t we just give the criminals crib notes showing the location of every house prepared to defend themselves so they prey on the rest of us. What house will you steal from, one with a gun, or one without out?

    The media is powerful, but what they “don’t say” can be as important as what they “do say.” We need people to think about what they report, not publish and let the chips fall where they may.

    Let’s take the power away from those craving validation from news coverage. Ignore them, report the story, deem them as evil and move on. Stop letting them hold the news world hostage for days on end.

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