What do you make of a 19 year old multiple killer who reminded his landlady of “a lost puppy that nobody wants“?
I interrupt my series of posts on pschopaths and lying to consider a perfect example in the news right now – the Omaha, Nebraska mall-killer Robert Hawkins.
The blogger ‘Against Medical Advice’ writes a post ‘random acts of violence‘, a humane and agonised attempt to come to grips with this event.
A few quotes:
i’m trying to understand what happens in our lives, that a 19-year-old can go from feeling a complete failure to killing himself and others in a crowded mall. i’m trying to remember what i was doing on wednesday at the time robert hawkins walked into the westroads mall in omaha, nebraska and started shooting into a crowd of strangers.
robert hawkins feeling so overwhelmed by emotional pain that he needs to take eight people down with him. what separates robert hawkins from me? is it just luck? could i, one day long ago, have been a robert hawkins? was i ever that desperate, that angry, that uninhibited from the life-saving constrictions of humanity and morality? clearly, no. but, also, i grew up in a place where guns were simply not a part of ordinary people’s lives.
i think of the eight dead, the various injured, of the banality — again — of walking into a mall three weeks before christmas to be shot by a kid with more pain in his life than he can handle. i wonder at lives ending like this, in a mall of all places. we don’t go to the mall to die.
It is genuinely heartwarming to see this ordinary (I mean this is a good way) empathy, sympathy, and soul-searching.
I responded as follows (with added inserts):
You ask whether there’s a difference between you and Robert Hawkins. There is.
Dr. Liane Leedom, a psychiatrist who writes for LoveFraud suggested straight-away that he was a sociopath. My first reaction was to think, “Maybe, but maybe he was just very unhappy or disturbed in another way, psychotic, say.”
Then I read the suicide note [see below] and I see that, yes, he was indeed a sociopath (psychopath in my terms).
“I don’t want anyone to miss me.” Practically every word here means precisely its converse: I demand that everyone never forgets me.
One doesn’t say, “I’ve snapped”, sit down to write a note, make one’s way over to the mall, and then walk around picking people off with a gun. That’s not snapping.
This was cool and deliberate. He entered and left the mall at 1:36, returning with the concealed weapon at 1:42. He took the elevator to the 5th floor. He shot and killed 8 people [see below] and wounded 5 others (2 critically). Firing in excess of thirty rounds he shot in disciplined fashion, 3 to 4 round bursts; that’s 8 to 10 bursts or more. Then he shot himself.
But he knew that snapping is a ‘reason’ people have to try and explain these things so he uses it to maniplulate our thinking.
On cue, here’s Nico Hines from the London Times: “Robert Hawkins was a depressed teenager who believed he had endured a terrible fortnight when he snapped, took a rifle, and killed eight Christmas shoppers before shooting himself.”
Manipulation: He says in the note that he doesn’t blame his family for disowning him, they and his friends will be better off without him. Actually, he’s doing all this for their own good (and I guess they should be grateful?).
Please. He hated them and wanted them to suffer terrible (and misplaced) guilt that they caused these people to die.
The absence of true depression: Psychopaths don’t become depressed.
Though she doesn’t go as far as I do, Dr. Leedom is wary of attempts to find ‘the cause’ in depression and its treatment: “News commentators have been discussing what happened and several are discussing the question of whether he was depressed and taking antidepressants. I think people feel better blaming antidepressant medication for these incidents because it is too frightening to accept that there are so many sociopaths (with the potential for violence) living among us.” [She does use the word ‘snap’ but in a question rather than a statement.]
Depressives may commit suicide (they may very rarely indeed even commit murder-suicide, which is actually suicide) – but they don’t go on methodical shooting rampages.
‘Shooting rampage’ is wrong, it implies out-of-control. ‘Shooting spree’ is a bit better but sounds too jolly. ‘Hunting trip’ would be better still.
A psychopath may (also very rarely) commit murder-suicide, but this is actually murder.
Here’s my take on it – Hawkins murdered those people because he was unable to really get down on himself like the true depressive does.
He took it out on others instead. About to face the music for 2 misdemeanours coming up in court as well as being fired for theft that day (and with a long history of being ‘troubled’ and making death threats) he was not depressed, he was vengeful.
Internally he refused to believe that he was “a piece of shit” he claims to be.
More psychopathic lies, faux-self-criticism, and pandering for sympathy.
Rather he projected his wretchedness onto others and so “I just don’t want to be a burden….I just want to take a few peices of shit with me”. (Just?)
Domination: Besides the fame, he has ingeniously devised a way to torture the people who knew him for the rest of their lives – and into their children’s lives. That’s power!
To ensure they’ll never escape he names them in a note he fully intended for public consumption – remember, he rightly expected to become famous.
Oh, he was truly happy, that day, make no mistake.
Reader, what’s your view?
1. Gary Scharf, age 48, customer.
2. John McDonald, age 65, customer.
3. Angie Shuster, age 36, employee.
4. Maggie Webb, age 24, employee.
5. Janet Jorgensen, age 66, employee.
6. Diane Trent, age 53, employee.
7. Gary Joy, age 56, employee.
8. Beverly Flynn, age 47, employee.
I’m so sorry for what I’ve put you through I never meant to hurt all of you so much and I don’t blame any one of you for disowning me I just can’t be a burden to you and my friends any longer You are all better off without me. I’m so sorry for this.
I’ve just snapped I can’t take this meaningless existence anymore I’ve been a constant disappointment and that trend would have only continued. just remember the good times we had together
I love you mommy
I love you dad
I love you Kira
I love you Valancia
I love you Cynthia
I love you Zach
I love you Cayla
I love you Mark (P.S. I’m really sorry)
To all of my friends [word scribbled over] I’m so sorry for what I’ve done to you and put you through. I’ve been a peice of shit my entire life it seems this is my only option. I know everyone will remember me as some sort of monster but please understand that I just don’t want to be a burden on the ones that I care for my entire life. I just want to take a few peices of shit with me. I love all of you so much and I don’t want anyone to miss me just think about how much better you are off without me to support. I want my friends to remember all the good times we had together. Just think tho I’m gonna be fuckin famous. You guys have always been there for me I’m just sad that I’m gonna have to go this alone. You guys are the best friends anyone could ever ask for. That’s all I have to say is that I fuckin you guys.
P.S. I didn’t eat that fuckin sandwich or the toielet thing either!
I’m giving my car back to my mom and my friends can have whatever else I leave behind
Signed (Hawkins’ signature)
Social (his Social Security number)