The Fame and Recognition Shooter

I want to start out by first apologizing for not posting last week, and for posting late this week. Between work commitments and summer work around my home, I just ran out of time. When this happens, I am not keeping new and relevant information flowing to you, my readers. For this I apologize.

Last week I described the five types of shooters that I have identified in my research. They are:

  • Terrorist shooter
  • PTSD Shooter
  • Domestic spillover shooter
  • Mental health shooter
  • Fame and recognition shooter

We have already discussed the attributes of the Domestic Spillover Shooter, so this week I will discuss the Fame and Recognition Shooter. The Fame and Recognition Shooter has motives of being recognized and becoming infamous. In most instances they want to be covered by the news, and they are often inspired by previous news reports about mass shooters.

The noted forensic psychologist James L. Knoll calls these mass killers pseudocommando’s.

The term “pseudocommando” was first used to describe the type of mass murderer who plans his actions “after long deliberation,” and who kills indiscriminately in public during the daytime. He comes prepared with a powerful arsenal of weapons and has no escape planned. He is sometimes described as having the intent to die in a “blaze of glory.” Since glory has been defined as “a state of great gratification or exaltation,” the clich to go out in a blaze of glory would seem to be a perverse turn of phrase, considering the unfathomable pain and tragedy these individuals cause. This article briefly explores what is known about the mindset of the pseudocommando mass murderer and how he transforms his desire for revenge into a perverse sense of honor, which allows him to justify his actions (Knoll, 2012, p. 1).

He goes on to explain:

The research on pseudocommandos suggests that they are driven by strong feelings of anger and resentment, in addition to having paranoid character traits. Dietz described these individuals as “collectors of injustice” who hold onto every perceived insult, amassing a pile of “evidence” that they have been grossly mistreated. To sustain the revenge “romance,” they must corral the unwanted, hated, or feared aspects of themselves. This collection is then re-assembled into the form of an “enemy” who “deserves” to be the target of a merciless, incendiary rage. Thus, the pseudocommando maintains object relations with others, which are heavily based on envy and splitting.

Mullen described the results of his detailed forensic evaluations of 5 pseudocommando mass murderers who were caught before they could kill themselves or be killed. Mullen noted that the massacres were often well planned out (ie, the offender did not suddenly “snap”): the offender arrived at the crime scene well-armed, often in camo or “warrior” gear. He appeared to be pursuing a highly personal agenda of “payback.” Mullen’s study also found a number of traits and historical factors that these individuals had in common: They were bullied or isolated as children and had become “loners” who felt despair over being socially excluded. They were also described as being resentful grudge holders who demonstrated obsessional or rigid traits…

… Narcissistic, grandiose traits were present, along with heavy use of externalization. They held a generally disparaging view of others, which resulted in spending a great deal of time ruminating on past humiliations. The ruminations evolved into fantasies of violent revenge, to the point that the offenders seemed to “welcome death,” even perceiving it as bringing them “fame” with an aura of power. Most of the literature references the pseudocommando’s motivation of revenge, which may be directed at a group (pseudocommunity) or representative ideology. (Knoll, 2012, p. 2)

Knoll (2012) has done a large amount of forensic research on past mass killers, and in my opinion, he hit the nail on the head! While he calls them pseudocommando’s and I call the Fame and Recognition, what he describes accurately identifies the same type of shooter, and the same motives that I have found.

The weapons usually used by Fame and Recognition Shooters is typically a firearm. They will usually bring a more than one gun, and an exorbitant amount of ammunition. Occasionally they will bring improvised explosive devices to cause more death, damage, and destruction. On the rare occasion, they will also bring knives, however it should be noted that this is a very rare occurrence.

The Fame and Recognition Shooter will have committed hundreds of hours of research about killing. They will research every detail, thought out every step of the plan, and they will usually have a manifesto. This manifesto will probably detail why the feel wronged, who their intended targets are, and a highly detailed blueprint about how they plan to carry out their heinous crime. They also do not usually plan an escape because they plan to die in a blaze of glory.

The age of the Fame and Recognition Shooter can be anywhere from 12 years old to 90 years old. It is important to note that the vast majority of them are 30 years old and under. Just because the majority of these individuals are under the age of 30 does not mean it that you should remember that they can be any age. If you suspect that someone is going down the Fame and Recognition Shooter path, do not hesitate to contact the FBI or law enforcement.

Next week, we will continue down the path of identifying the specific types of shooters and the common attributes they display. Until then, be safe and be vigilant!, … Mark