The Lives of School Shooters

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Throughout the past 100 years, there have been some of the most infamous and deadly mass shootings in schools of all grades. Most have heard many dark humor jokes about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, but who are these individuals behind the butt of the gun? What have they been through in their life to get them where they wanted to mass murder seemingly innocent peers in a school setting?

I want to go back through some of histories finest school shooters and bring forth similarities and differences these individuals endured as children. These similarities will include the following: mental health issues, developmental issues, bullying, isolation, traits, parental separations, and classic hobbies. As this paper proceeds, I plan to first give you information about each infamous shooter, describing what their life was like and background information, and then towards the end sum up the things these people have in common or how they are different.

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Virginia Tech in 2007 just so happened to have a murderous individual by the name of Sueng-Hui Cho. This person managed to kill 33 people and injured 25 before he then committed suicide. Cho’s many traits were described as sullen, aloof, violent, and angry. Cho’s grandfather stated that, “He never came up to me or called me grandpa. Even as a child, he never liked hugging.” He was known to have developmental issues and setbacks all throughout his life which caused him great isolation along the course of his schooling and college years. Although he experienced developmental issues, he graduated high school with a 3.5 GPA, so he was smart. Along the way, Sueng-Hui Cho was diagnosed with selective mutism, a condition in which an individual chooses who they interact with and doesn’t interact with other individuals, and major depression. During 8th grade Cho would write very violent and gruesome essays and creative writing assignments including that of one on the Columbine school shooting carried out by both Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold in the year 1999. In this essay he expressed his fantasies with suicide and murder. He also later in college wrote an essay about very violent and anger-filled fantasies once again. There was this one incident where he went to a party and sat in the female’s bedroom with a knife and he proceeded stabbing the carpet. Before this man committed this heinous crime, he wrote a Manifesto. Because he uses a great deal of foul language, I will blank out the word. Cho states, “You had a hundred billion chances and ways to have avoided today, but you decided to spill my blood. You forced me into a corner and gave me only one option. The decision was yours. Now you have blood on your hands that will never wash off, you Apostles of Sin.” He also goes on to say, “Heaven knows I wouldn’t hurt a single leaf of a flower. But when the time came, I did it. I had to. What other choices did you give me? All this time… You never know what a human being is capable of until you f— him to the edge.”

Adam Lanza was the vicious, dark, but quiet individual behind the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. In this shooting, he shot and killed 28 children and injured 2. AL was described to be the following: creative, bright, shy, pale, awkward, gaunt, extremely anxious, repetitious, timid, isolated, and withdrawn. Throughout AL’s life he was medically supervised and often misdiagnosed. There have been at least 9 diagnosed or considered diagnoses for this boy. As a young boy, Adam was an active child but did not like to be touched at all. He was also known to have “made up his own language.” Adam had “significantly delayed development of articulation and expressive language skills.” His parents separated in 2002 but did not divorce until 2007. AL’s elementary school years are full of absences, especially his 3rd grade year, and very isolated behaviors. This is when he started experiencing depression, stress, and anxiety. In the 5th grade he wrote “The Big Book of Granny” which contained things such as child murder, taxidermy, and cannibalism. During middle school he began to regress even more. His anxiety got worse and so did his dislike to human contact and photography. Although AL was never reportedly bullied, he was then transferred to a Catholic school where he then became obsessed with religion. At this catholic school, he continued writing graphic creative pieces, but was then taken out of school and was homebound for a while due to the incapacity to facilitate his sort of special needs for education. AL returned to high school in 9th and 10th grade where he was transitioned into normal school hours without the presence of special therapy classes. He was socially awkward and began isolating himself even more by playing games like that of World of Warcraft and Mario Brothers. During this period Adam also stopped seeing and communicating with his dad. Towards the end of Adam Lanza’s life, he spent it in his room consuming himself online with group associations fascinated by mass murder, guns, and murder. The most recent famous mass school shooting is that of Nikolas Cruz. We all have seen his chilling videos that he posted before the massacre, but do we know what his life was like? Majority Stoneman Douglas High was a victim of this tainted mind, killing 17 and injuring 14. Before the shooting, Cruz was described as angry, violent, dark, weird, hostile, troublesome, and withdrawn. Cruz’s father died in 2004 of a heart attack and his mother died in 2017 of pneumonia. All throughout Nikolas’ childhood, there have been many reports of abuse among the Cruz family causing multiple police phone calls to be made. Neighbors have reportedly seen Cruz participating in very dark actions.

These actions include the following list of bizarre and dark things: torturing animals, stealing neighborhood mail, forcing his dogs to attack the neighbors piglets, biting a child’s ear off, throwing rocks and coconuts, vandalizing property, peeping through windows, selling knives out of his school lunch box, shooting chickens, threatening students, cursing at teachers, and shooting rats with BB guns. There were many allegations of Cruz assaulting his mom including attacking her with a vacuum hose and throwing her against the wall. 2016 was a year that gave off signs of hatred for the school because Cruz began to post pictures on his Instagram of guns, and he was posting comments that suggested he wanted to shoot up the school. Within the same year, he got into a fight with his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend and he got expelled from school although he later returned to massacre the students. Cruz’s fellow classmates said that he was depressed and apparently cutting himself along with an incident where he ingested gasoline to attempt suicide after the fight. Nikolas posted a comment on a YouTube video saying, “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.”

The last individual I want to mention dates back to the 60’s. Charles Whitman was an exceptional member of the Marines until he had to be honorably discharged because of his academic problems in the University of Texas. This university is the place where his massacre occurred in 1966. He killed 17 individuals and 31 people were injured. Charles’ childhood was rough for him because his father abused his mom, his brother, and himself. Whitman was a very angry, unhappy, independent, but smart person. He wrote a letter after he killed his mom and his wife before committing this shooting. His defense for killing his mom was so that she did not have to suffer from his father’s abuse anymore even though she had already previously left this man and moved into an apartment in Austin, Texas. Charles spoke to a therapist but never returned. As I reviewed these individuals, I do not want you to think that I condone with their behavior because I do not. I want to show an insight to their minds and what they went through. I realize that all human beings go through issues, setbacks, and problems in life, but there are common themes throughout the lives of these individuals. All but Charles Whitman were described as withdrawn and isolated.

All these individuals at some point received therapy or counseling. Between all the writings of each individual killer, there are enough gore and storylines to create a horror movie. Cho and Adam were very smart students but underwent a series of developmental obstacles. Adam having more obstacles than Cho. Charles, Adam, and Nikolas had parental problems because all these children had parents separating, dying, or abusing within the family. Adam and Nikolas both lived in their own world and secluded themselves from most human interaction and played video games. While they were also playing games, they also had access to guns and had experience with them. They also used the internet to consume them and darken their fantasies about killing and mass murders. As I stated previously, I do not condone the actions and murders under these circumstances. I look at these individuals to learn what pushed them to the edge. The minds of these killers may not have ample acumen for their crimes, but I do believe that they have a story to tell.

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