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

The types of mass shooters

As I was writing classes for law enforcement this week, it dawned on me that some of the same factors that will guide law enforcement through an investigation might be helpful to the churches and the individuals who fill those churches. For that reason, I will share some of the basic research findings about mass shooters.

Many classify mass shooters as mentally ill, but this does an injustice to the mentally ill, and lead people to wrongly classify the motivations behind mass shootings. Through my research, I have identified five different types of mass shooters (which could also be a mass bomber in most instances). Some may wonder why we would classify mass shooters. The explanation is simple: The more unique factors that we can identify, the more we know what makes them tick. As we learn more about what makes them tick, the better we can prevent these mass killings. The classification of mass shooters are:

  • Terrorists Mass Shooter/Bomber
  • PTSD Mass Shooter
  • Domestic Spillover Mass Shooter
  • Mental Illness Mass Shooter
  • Fame and Recognition Mass Shooter

It should be noted that these classifications of mass shooters are the basic classification. It provides a guide of what warning signs and actions we need to be looking for: However, as can be seen from the Venn Diagram below, they may be part of two or more classifications.

As an example, a veteran returning from war may have PTSD, Mental health problems, and Domestic Spillover that have combined and drives them to become a mass shooter. From knowing this information, we can deduct that pressure is building, and if and when they explode, it will likely be a rage shooting, meaning they can’t take any more and they act out with little warning and little to no planning.

It is important to note that not all PTSD cases are military veterans. These individuals can have PTSD from  multiple different reasons including; sexual abuse, child abuse, public safety work, and more. In instances where multiple classifications interact, pretty much only those trained in classifying potential shooters will be able to differentiate the melding of more than one type of shooter classification.

Understanding the driving factors which identify the type of (potential) shooter someone might become can help to mitigate and stop the actual act of violence. By knowing what their motivations are, we can gain basic knowledge of how to approach them, what their motivators and triggers are, and the type of help they may need or the actions that can legally be taken to stop them in advance of an incident.

It is important to remember that untrained individuals should not approach them, but refer your suspicions to an expert who knows what typically works, up to and including taking them off of the streets. Should you think that you have identified a potential shooter, do not attempt to engage them! This action could have deadly consequences. Also, you should never (EVER) visit them at their home, even if invited. Many individuals have thought out what they would do if they had “their enemy” on their home turf.

Next week, I will begin describing each of these mass shooters/bombers classifications, and describe what their motivators often are, as well as their preferred weapons. Until then, … Mark