Local expert sees common traits in mass murderers

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Isolated, disconnected, a loner. These are terms that seem common when describing the personality of those who carry out mass murder in America and they also seem to apply to the Umpqua Community College shooter, Chris Harper Mercer, 26.

“This may look like an opportunity to get attention, to be famous, in some dark sick way to succeed at something,” said J. Craig Allen, M.D., a psychiatrist  in the Hartford Healthcare system.

Dr. Allen is a psychiatrist who deals with adults and children. He said that in a country of 300 million, the intense media spotlight on the acts of one individual creates a copycat component for those seeking notoriety.

“There are other people that feel disenfranchised, powerless, ineffective, who see the attention they get on media and may entertain those thoughts,” said Dr. Allen.

According to ABC News, Mercer fit the profile of other mass killers. He was apparently fascinated by the Irish Republican Army, frustrated with organized religion, and studied other mass shootings. When posting about the August murder of a Virginia TV news crew, Mercer stated, “the more people you kill, the more you’re in the limelight.”

Dr. Allen said our modern, virtual world creates a deadly combination; potential killers can easily study other scenes of mass violence, and then get their hands on destructive weapons without much hassle.

“Now, someone who’s angry at the world can access, apparently fairly easily, a gun that has multiple rounds,” said Dr. Allen.

Dr. Allen said education and conversation can help identify people who may be at risk for this type of homicidal behavior.

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