A clearer picture of Adkisson is emerging from the sad community of Knoxville, where he walked into a Unitarian church firing a semi-automatic shotgun, killing two and critically injuring 2 more. Four more remain hospitalized. He has a history of domestic violence and his ex-wife belonged to the church years ago. He had two DWIs, and a book shelf full of hate literature. He couldn’t find a job and was about to lose his food stamps.
Another mass murderer, this time in a church. 1Knoxville News Sentinel “Jim D. Adkisson sometimes volunteered to change his neighbors’ tires. He let neighbors store their property in his garage. He was the guy everyone could count on to help out when they needed a hand. On Sunday, however, Adkisson was accused of opening fire with a 12-gauge shotgun during a children’s play at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church on Kingston Pike, killing two and injuring seven.
Enough background is emerging to suggest Kazmierczak was suffering from a mental illness. The sad and scary part of this is that the fear generated by this and other tragedy may contribute to the isolation and stigma of mental illness. ABC News “Though Kazmierczak seemed friendly and normal, he had a troubled past. After high school, Kazmierczak’s parents sent him to Thresholds-Mary Hill House, a psychiatric treatment center for teens, where he lived for a year while getting therapy and medication for what was described as “unruly” behavior.
Details are beginning to emerge from another mass killing at a school by a young person. Some information suggested a young man interested in corrections, other information suggest he was being treated for mental illness. Preventing these kind of tragedies needs to be a high priority effort by all of us. The solution can not be found by locking up everyone who might be violent, we can’t afford that many jail cells.
The violence goes on and on. Eight innocents were killed by a lone 19 year old gunman people have called “quiet and polite”. Clearly there is much more to this story. But here is what there is so far. Robert Hawkins was deeply into drugs, at least marijuana, and alcohol. Although he had one felony for drug possession, his other criminal behavior was limited to misdemeanors. Quiet and polite behavior can hide incredible violent anger.
The sad thing about Cho, is that his problem was well beyond the ability of the school and mental health system had with which to cope. Even though Cho appeared to have been pretty well served by the high school in their special ed program, there were deeper seated problems than just an anxiety disorder. Could a similar support program in college headed off the massacre? Possibly. But it also may not have.
Why all the mayhem? What consumes people to go on murderous rampages? While I can’t pretend to know the answer to these questions, there are patterns in the many incidents that suggest several contributing factors. In this article, I will review several news articles and suggest a perspective on causes that many may find uncomfortable to consider. Then I’ll propose social policy solutions. Historically, murderous rampages have been called “amok” or “running amok”. For two centuries, the term was used by colonialists to refer to the native people who reacted to brutal subjugation with violent rampages. Somehow the colonialists couldn’t see how their conquests could have inspired what appeared to them to be irrational mass murder. The concept amok or running amok is a phrase derived from the Malay word mengamok, which means “to do furious battle.” It’s use was more a product of cultural bias than identification of a real phenomena. Experts have agreed that Cho appeared to have suffered from a serious mental illness. When he was evaluated in 2005, he suffered from depression that was observed included neurovegetative signs such as “flat affect”. His parents report similar behavior while he was a very young boy still living in South Korea.
“Cho was trapped in a generational warp, neither quite Korean like his parents nor American like his peers. His parents turned to the church for help with his emotional problems, but he was bullied in his Christian youth group, especially by rich kids”.
“His mother agonized over his sullen, brooding behavior and empty face.[…] Classmates recall some teasing and bullying over his taciturn nature. The few times he was required to speak for a class assignment, students mocked his poor English and deep-throated voice.Story after story described a completely isolated child who grew into an angry, alienated and eventually man. And so he chose invisibility. When neighbors said hello, he ignored them, as if he were not there. “Like he had a broken heart,” said Abdul Shash, a next-door neighbor. When Cho entered Virginia Tech, his parents drove him there with guarded expectations. Perhaps he would no longer retreat to video games and playing basketball alone. Perhaps college might crack the mystery of who he was, extract him from his cocoon and make him talk.”