|Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks|
|Stephen Paddock Wanted To ‘Make People Happy,’ Friend Says of Suspected Las Vegas Shooter|
Law enforcement officials have struggled to determine a motive for suspected Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock, and even longtime friends and family members have expressed difficulty in understanding why he could have murdered 58 people and injured hundreds more, before killing himself.
One such friend, Lisa Crawford, expressed sorrow over the shooting before describing how her previous experience with Paddock, 64, gave no indication of the horror he was allegedly planning.
“He actually cared about everybody,” Crawford told ABC’s Good Morning America on Monday. “He tried to make people happy; he tried to make people care, and I don’t know what happened to him.”
Between 2006 and 2012, Crawford reportedly managed an apartment that Paddock owned and said she and the alleged mass shooter were close friends. She also described emails exchanged with Paddock.
“I have read them over and over and over again,” Crawford said. “I’ve even looked at some photos online of, I guess, him and his girlfriend. You know I was even trying to look into his eyes to see if I saw something that wasn’t normal, you know. No, I didn’t see anything.”
Crawford added that she wanted to try to find any possible reason for why Paddock carried out the worst mass shooting in the modern U.S. history.
“I want closure for these people,” Crawford said. “I can’t believe that the person that I knew would even consider hurting somebody. I want so bad to have answers for people. I want to solve this. I want us to do whatever I can to tell the authorities to look here, look there.”
She added, “I have cried for those people, so many times I almost feel like I’m out of tears sometimes. It could have been my mom, my children.”
Since the shooting on October 1, local and federal investigators have pieced together information about Paddock’s life and his time leading up to the shooting. He was an accountant and also known to be a major gambler. Federal officials found 19 firearms and pounds of explosives during an initial search of his Mesquite, Nevada, home a week ago, according to the Associated Press.
Federal officials also interviewed Paddock’s brother, Eric, for a second time Sunday, the Las Vegas Journal-Review reported, and he said the sessions lasted about five hours and included Las Vegas Metropolitan Police members and a psychologist.
“I’m here to help them move forward with their investigation,” Eric Paddock told the paper. “I want to help them understand what they’re seeing.”
Eric Paddock arrived in Las Vegas Saturday from Orlando, Florida, to pick up his brother’s remains. Paddock reportedly killed himself in the suite at the Mandalay Bay Hotel from which he shot into a music festival crowd.
|No Manifesto, No Phone Calls: Las Vegas Killer Left Only Cryptic Clues – New York Times|
|The squishy definition of ‘mass shooting’ complicates media coverage – Washington Post|
|’60 Minutes’ profiles the genius who won Trump’s campaign: Facebook – Washington Post|
|The deadliest US mass shootings – Fox News|
|6 Things to Know about Mass Shootings in America – Scientific American|
|Worst mass shootings in recent US history – WABC-TV|
|6 things to know about mass shootings – Chicago Tribune|
|Analysis: Mass shootings, their aftermath follow familiar script – Times Reporter|
|Forensic Psychologist Profiles Mass Killers – Voice of America|
|Americans are more likely to die from gun violence than many leading causes of death combined – Business Insider|
|Scholars Renew Calls for US to Fund Research on Gun Violence – Inside Higher Ed|
|How US gun culture compares with the world in 5 charts – CNN|
|A look back at recent mass shootings – KWQC – KWQC-TV6|
|Criminologist: Six things to know about mass shootings in America – YubaNet|
|Mass Shootings in the US: Some Common Characteristics of the Men That Kill|
This week’s massacre at a country music festival in downtown Las Vegas, which left at least 59 people dead and more than 500 injured, reminds us that the locations and circumstances of mass shootings in America are unpredictable. But according to one researcher, these tragedies are much less random and inexplicable than media reports and solemn speeches by public officials typically suggest.
The shooters often share three converging characteristics, according to Eric Madfis of the University of Washington, Tacoma, one of the world’s leading experts on mass murderers in the US.
In a 2014 paper published in the journal Men and Masculinities, Madfis determined that mass killers tend to share elements of white entitlement, middle-class instability and downward economic mobility, and heterosexual masculinity.
“This is about entitlement because white people are socialized into believing that they are the dominant group in society,” Madfis told Seeker, “and so they have the highest expectations for their own success, and are less able to cope with loss when they fail to achieve that success.”
“The American middle class has shrunk, the economy has been de-industrialized, and wages have not increased in decades,” he continued. As a result, “many more Americans are experiencing downward mobility.”
While alleged Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock’s finances remain unclear, and convicted Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof, to take another recent example, may seem too young to have had major financial concerns, Madfis argues that financial anxiety can be “particularly threatening for many men who, as the traditional breadwinners, feel a great sense of shame when they aren’t able to provide the sort of life for their families that they anticipated.”
Prior research cited by Madfis has found that whites commit mass murder at a slightly higher rate relative to their share of the population, with 69.9 percent of American mass killers being non-Hispanic whites. A more recent dataset from Mother Jones covering 1982 to 2017 shows that 54 percent of mass shootings involving three or more deaths were committed by white men. Black people ranked second, but made up only 16 percent of the total.
Madfis’s analysis suggests that this white disproportionality is exclusive to this type of killer. Whether or not Paddock fully fits Madfis’s profile remains an open question.
“It is hard to tell based on the available information, but certainly he was a straight white male,” he said. “He had no prior history of criminal behavior, which is actually quite typical of mass killers. He was also divorced twice, and that is the type of life stressor which mass killers often experience many times.”
Paddock’s father was a serial bank robber who was arrested by the FBI when Paddock was seven years old. He later escaped from prison and landed on the FBI’s Most Wanted list. It’s uncertain what effect this might have had on Paddock, the eldest of four sons.
Early news reports suggest Paddock owned several homes and could potentially be quite wealthy, which Madfis acknowledged is atypical of the general mass shooter profile.
“But he was also a prolific gambler, so it would not surprise me at all to learn that he recently suffered a significant financial loss,” he noted. “That said, mass killers do not just ‘snap.’”
Paddock had reportedly been involved in some high-stakes bets in the weeks ahead of the shooting, according to NBC News, wagering anywhere between $10,000 to $30,000 a day on several occasions. Investigators have not yet determined whether he was winning or losing money.
Madfis’s analysis of mass murderers goes back to 1999, his junior year of high school. Following the Columbine High School massacre that year, he noted copycat shootings. At his own school, someone wrote in the boys’ bathroom, “Columbine Could Happen Here,” along with a particular date. Many people skipped school that day, but Madfis attended as usual.
At the end of the day, after nothing had happened, a friend turned to him at their lockers and said sarcastically, “Boy, today sure was disappointing.” The vice-principal of the school overheard the statement, interpreted it as a threat, and suspended his friend.
This sparked Madfis’s interest in the responses to shootings.
“I wanted to know more, not only about what causes these types of events, but also about evidence-based solutions to actually prevent them,” he said.
Studies repeatedly show that upwards of 90 percent of mass killers are male, with the vast majority identifying as straight.
“Violence often operates as a signifier of masculinity, and so someone who has failed to achieve a manly, macho identity in other realms — such as in work, love, or sports — can be seen as powerful and masculine simply by engaging in violence,” Madfis said.
Violence, he added, seems to be a solution for certain men not only because of the association of violence with masculinity, but also because of cultural cues that establish aggression as an appropriate masculine reaction to shame.
“Some men respond to perceived emasculation in the socially approved manner for men — with violence,” he said.
Madfis emphasizes that his argument is based on the performance of masculinity and gender, “rather than one about biological sex differences.” A transgender male should therefore be vulnerable to such behaviors, but Madfis said that since “trans people are forced to face myriad challenges throughout their lives” they “do not have the same privileges or lack of coping mechanisms as cisgender males.”
Mass murders are very different from homicide because the latter typically involves single-victim events. According to FBI crime statistics, interracial homicides in the US do not seem to exhibit the crisis in white identity that Madfis sees among many mass murderers in America. Last year, for example, it was reported that about 8.6 percent of black victims were killed by whites, while 15.8 percent of white victims were killed by blacks.
“The vast majority of homicide is intraracial, with blacks killing blacks, and whites killing whites,” Madfis said.
Robert Hanlon of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine pointed out that in addition to cultural and societal influences, neurobiology and personality facets should be considered when attempting to analyze killers.
Certain genetic mutations mostly affecting males have been shown to increase a person’s risk for violent behavior 13-fold.
“All of our behavior has both a genetic and environmental component — they cannot be separated,” neuroscientist Jeremy Richman of the Avielle Foundation — named after Avielle Rose Richman, who was killed during the 2012 mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut — told Seeker.
Madfis rejects a strong genetic connection between violence committed by non-human male primates and violence committed by men.
“If that were the case,” he said, “one would see more stable and constant rates of mass murder all across the world and throughout history. However, we are seeing more instances of mass murder now in the United States for a reason.”
A 2016 cross-national study that looked at 171 countries confirmed that there are more public mass shootings in the US than in any other country in the world.
Madfis argues that political and cultural responses are necessary for diminishing gun violence in America.
“We need to work against our problematic culture, which associates violence with masculinity and glorifies gun culture and violence as a way to attain a sense of masculine power and lasting fame,” he said. “We also could do a lot more to prevent these attacks with a far more robust mental health system, and especially with mental health care that focuses on addressing toxic forms of masculinity.”
WATCH: Why the Government Stops Gun Violence Research
|Mass Shootings in the US: Some Common Characteristics of the Men That Kill – Seeker|
|How is a ‘mass shooting’ defined? – PolitiFact|
|Las Vegas shooting: What was Stephen Paddock’s motive?|
“Everyone has three lives,” Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez once posited. “A public life, a private life and a secret life.”
It remains unclear whether a secret life led Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old wealthy, retired accountant with a penchant for gambling, to open fire on a Las Vegas music festival crowd and kill 58 people and injure 500 others before turning the gun on himself.
Police are continuing to search for clues on what would trigger him to commit the deadliest US shooting in recent history.
“My hunch is there is a secret life here that will eventually be uncovered,” said J Reid Meloy, a forensic psychologist at the University of California at San Diego who researches mass shootings.
Though the suspect appeared to show no red flags about his intentions, Paddock had been quietly stockpiling 33 high-powered weapons – which included assault rifles and explosives – over the past 13 months. He spent decades acquiring guns and ammunition, police said.
Paddock’s family and friends appeared puzzled by the attack, with his girlfriend, Marilou Danley, describing him as “a kind, caring, quiet man”, while his brother, Eric Paddock, told reporters that he was stunned.
But Mr Meloy said there are several warning behaviours that signal whether an individual might be capable of committing such a crime.
Eric Paddock says he is in total shock after police named his brother, Stephen, as the shooter
One such behaviour pattern Paddock demonstrated is pathway, or engaging in research, planning and preparation for an act of violence.
At least 23 guns – 12 of which were equipped with bump-stocks, or rapid fire devices – were found inside Paddock’s Mandalay Bay hotel room while he also set up cameras both inside and outside the suite.
Paddock also wired $100,000 (£75,400) to his girlfriend while she was in the Philippines and instructed her to buy a house with the cash, removing her from the final stages of his plan.
But Paddock did not appear to show other behavioural patterns typical of perpetrators, Mr Meloy said, including fixation on a person or issue, identification with a previous attacker or as a soldier for a particular cause, or acting out in novel aggression, testing his ability to become violent.
However, that may change as the investigation unfolds, he said.
‘Why me?’: Survivors of a senseless act face a different kind of trauma
The retiree’s age also appears to stand out among previous active shooters, which typically range from 15-19 years old and the 35-44 age group, according to a New York Police Department Active Shooter report released last year.
Adam Lankford, a University of Alabama criminologist and researcher who tracks global mass shootings, said individuals who carry out such crimes tend to have suicidal motives or appear indifferent to life or death, perceive themselves as victims or seek attention and fame.
Mr Lankford warned that without explicit statements from Paddock about his reasons for the attack, determining a motive is mostly speculation.
But he pointed out Paddock filed a negligence lawsuit against the owner of The Cosmopolitan resort and casino in Las Vegas in 2012, alleging he “slipped and fell on an obstruction on the floor” that cost him $30,600 in medical expenses. The casino’s owner disputed the claims and the lawsuit was dropped in 2014, court records show.
That could have been an incident of perceived victimisation, Mr Lankford suggested.
Another striking detail from Paddock’s life is his father, who spent years on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list as a bank robber and whose criminal career spanned five decades.
Though Paddock did not grow up with his father, the detail could shed light on the gunman’s perception of fame, Mr Lankford said.
“His father became famous for committing crimes,” Mr Lankford continued, “that’s a dangerous lesson for a child.”
Mr Meloy also questioned whether there might have been a heritability of psychopathy in Paddock, passed on from his father.
“I’m not saying he committed this mass murder because of the psychopathy of his father,” Mr Meloy cautioned. “But imagine the degree of callousness, detachment and cruelty that it would take to open fire on that crowd.
“The motivation may be very much embedded in his personality.”
Who is Stephen Paddock?
Sources: US media reports
Mental illness is another trait that often permeates the narrative of a mass shooting, but Jonathan Metzl, a Vanderbilt University professor who studies the history of mental illness, warned that linking it to gun violence is misguided.
While estimates vary, a 2015 analysis of perpetrators who killed or intended to kill four or more people found that 22% of male killers displayed evidence of mental illness.
Less than 5% of US gun-related killings between 2001 and 2010 were committed by people diagnosed with a mental illness, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
And according to a 2016 database of mass shootings involving four or more victims, just 15% of mass shooting suspects had a psychotic disorder while 11% had paranoid schizophrenia, Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox found.
People who suffer mental illness are actually far more likely to be a victim of a violent crime rather than commit the act themselves, Mr Metzl said.
“Linking [mental illness] to mass shootings reinforces the stigma that people with mental illness are ticking time bombs,” he said. “And in turn, it ignores the context of gun culture, gun access and other factors that play a part in a shooting.”
Instead, Mr Metzl explained that the focus should be preventing an individual like Paddock from carrying out a mass shooting rather than retro-actively trying to predict who could.
However, Mr Meloy emphasised that while warning behaviours can help prevent acts of violence, they cannot predict them.
How US mass shootings are getting worse
|Las Vegas shooting: What was Stephen Paddock’s motive? – BBC News|
|Why Are There So Many Conflicting Numbers on Mass Shootings?|
No one would argue over whether the horrific massacre at a Las Vegas concert on Sunday, which claimed the lives of 58 people and injured over 500 more, fits the definition of a mass shooting. Nor does anyone quibble over that classification for the Orlando nightclub shooting that killed 49 and injured 53, or Sandy Hook, or Virginia Tech, or any of the other outbursts of gun violence that have claimed hundreds of lives in past decade alone.
But what about the Plano, Texas man who fatally shot his estranged wife and seven other people at a private party just last week? Or the 25-year-old man who opened fire during a church service in Antioch, Tenn. just a few days earlier, killing one parishioner and wounding seven, many of whom remained hospitalized days later?
Under the current federal definition, authorized by President Obama in January 2013, a “mass killing” must involve at least three deaths and occur in a “place of public use,” disqualifying both the Antioch and Plano incidents. A Congressional Research Service Report published two months later acknowledged a lack of consensus on the issue and used its own definition, which required four or more deaths, not including the shooter, occurring in a public place and a gunman “who select victims somewhat indiscriminately.”
As others have already noted, there is a widespread disagreement on what constitutes a mass shooting. The Washington Post‘s Christopher Ingraham identified three broad categories, from the one used by Mother Jones magazine (and TIME), which also limits incidents to public places and three deaths not including the shooter, to the broad categorization used by the non-profit Gun Violence Archive, which includes any incident in which four people were killed or injured, leading to much higher incident counts.
To wit: A Vox article on Monday reports that “[t]here have been more than 1,500 mass shootings since Sandy Hook,” using Gun Violence Archive Data, while Mother Jones‘ database contains only 29 mass shootings in that time. Neither are incorrect. But the discrepancy can easily lead to confusion when different outlets report vastly different numbers using the same term.
“It’s a tricky issue here,” says Avery Gardiner, the co-president of the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence. The Brady Campaign defines mass shootings as incidents with four or more deaths, not including the shooter — but doesn’t limit the definition to public places or anonymous rampages.
“Some define a public mass shooting as one where the people were chosen indiscriminately. That doesn’t seem right to me,” Gardiner says. She adds that she would “absolutely” include the Plano, Texas incident. “I’d be very uncomfortable with any definition that minimized the role of domestic violence,” she says.
While the definition of a mass shooting may seem like a fairly technical or semantic debate, it has the power to drive the media narrative and the public perception of the scope of gun violence in the U.S. A universally accepted definition is unlikely, but greater transparency in how outlets report the numbers is important when the figures vary so drastically.
|How the erosion of trust leads to murders and mass shootings – Washington Post|
|‘This shooter is a little different’: Hamline professor studies mass shootings|
The gunman at last Sunday night’s shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas is entry number 134 in a database of mass shooters that two Twin Cities professors are building.
Jillian Peterson, a Hamline University assistant professor of criminology and criminal justice, and James Densley, an associate professor of criminal justice at Metropolitan State University, hope to better understand why mass shootings happen and identify ways to prevent them.
They’re focused on shootings that happen in a public place with four or more victims and aren’t family or gang-related. Peterson and Densley code mass shooters according to 50 different variables. Peterson said they go deep into shooters’ histories and look at past trauma, their parents, mental illness, their relationships with other people and their social media profiles.
From what Peterson has read about Stephen Paddock, the alleged shooter in Las Vegas, she said she’s curious to see how he fits in.
“This shooter is a little different, compared to the data we have,” said Peterson, a forensic psychologist. “He’s significantly older than average, the average age is mid-30s. Social media presence is also something we usually see, some sort of radicalization on social media or wanting to go viral on social media. In this case the shooter was not active on social media, didn’t seem to have any social media accounts.”
They’re still in the process of building data, so Peterson said they don’t have definitive statistics. But she has seen two things surface repeatedly– hopelessness and a need for notoriety in life or in death.
But trying to predict future shootings and who is most at risk can be difficult, said Peterson. “The problem is that finding a mass shooter is like finding a needle in a haystack. So, for every person that fits the profile and does a shooting there’s probably a million people that fit the profile and don’t do a shooting.”
She and Densley would like to make their database open to the public, once they finish building it. But she’s cautious about how such data could be used. “People can be labeled and be seen as risky and they’re not, and I think we don’t want to start picking up people because they seem risky.” She said information is powerful and important, but so is recognizing its limits.
On Monday, Oct. 16, Peterson and Densley will host a free public discussion on their data at Hamline University.
|‘This shooter is a little different’: Hamline professor studies mass shootings – Minnesota Public Radio News|
|Analysis: Why hasn’t Israel been the victim of mass shootings? – The Jerusalem Post mobile website|