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The Psychology of Spree Killing Craig Jackson

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1 The Psychology of Spree Killing Craig Jackson
Prof. Occ Health Psychology Birmingham City University

2 “Going Postal” Unfortunate term - misleading
Incidents from 1983 onwards Involving USPS workers Shot / killed colleagues, managers, police, public 1986 – spree kill incidents 48 murdered Three incidents elsewhere: Australia (1926, 1987) Canada (1934) Not all “Postal killings” are “Spree killings”

3 Notable Incidents Edmond, Oklahoma: 1986
Patrick Sherrill PT letter carrier facing dismissal due to troubled work history 14 employees shot and killed & 6 wounded Ridgewood, New Jersey: 1991 Joseph Harris shot and killed four people 1 yr after being fired Included former boss & 2 USPS employees Royal Oak, Michigan: 1991 Thomas McIlvane killed 5 people, including himself Used a rifle in Royal Oak's post office Was fired from the USPS for "insubordination" Had been previously suspended for getting into altercations with postal customers on his route.

4 Notable Incidents Double event May 6th 1993
Two shootings took place on the same day, a few hours apart At a post office in Dearborn, Michigan Lawrence Jasion wounded three and killed two (including himself) In California, Mark Hilburn killed his mother, then shot two postal workers dead Goleta, California: 2006 Jennifer SanMarco - SanMarco Former postal employee, retired due to previous mental health problems. Killed 6 postal employees (and a further non-related victim at her old apartment block) Committing suicide at a large postal processing facility Used handgun. Victim selection racially biased – “The Racist Press”

5 Notable Incidents Baker City, Oregon: 2006
Grant Gallaher, 41 yrs old. current employee of eighteen years, ran over his supervisor then shot him several times. Gallaher reportedly was on a new route for three weeks and had felt pressured by a week-long work-time study and an extra twenty minutes added to his new route Sacramento, California: 2009 A post office clerk threatened to kill a customer, and the branch had to be closed for the day.

6 Going Postal Mythology?
Interventions 1993 USPS creates 85 “Workplace Environment Analysts” to cope with Violence prevention and environmental improvement. All fired in Feb 2009 due to cutbacks. Epidemiology 2.1 homicides per 100,000 retail workers 1.7 homicides per 100,000 public admin workers 0.2 homicides per 100,000 USPS workers USPS employs 0.75% of civilian labour force 13% of employee-directed homicides occurred at USPS facilities by (former) staff (NIOSH)

7 UK “Spree Killing” hides subtle differences
Ryan Sartin Hamilton Bird Moat Year Day Sat Sun Wed Wed Sat Duration 8 hrs 2hrs 20mins 4 hrs 7days Killed Yes No Yes Yes Yes Suicide Yes NA Yes Yes ? Dead Injured Victims All Adult All Adult Adult Targeted No No Yes Some All Indiscriminate Yes Yes Yes Yes No Mobile Yes Yes No Yes Yes School Yes No Yes No No Shootist Yes No Yes Yes No Legal firearms Yes No Yes Yes No “Normal” No No No Yes Yes/No Family Yes No No Yes No Police on scene Yes Yes No No Yes Communications No No Yes No Yes

8 Military Spree Killings
Since 1995 there have been 6 recorded spree killings in the US Military Fort Hood massacre in 2009 most memorable Major Nidal Malik Hasan was a US Army Psychiatrist Killed 13 and injured 30 others With more qualifications, career progression and life chances than most spree killers, he does not fit the typical pattern of spree killers - he was not under undue stress at the time of the killings There is some suggestion of some sub-standard aspects to his clinical work and possible Islamic radicalisation prior to the killings.

9 Schools & Colleges The place that features most in spree killings is that of educational establishments, sometimes schools, but mostly university colleges. Since Charles Whitman took refuge in an observation tower and killed 16, and injured 31 at the University of Texas in 1963, there have been numerous spree killers who engage in their sprees entirely on the premises: Hamilton, Lepine, Cho, Klebold and Harris, or Kretschmer , or who kill elsewhere who then seem to migrate to their former alma mater, such as Weise, Whitman, or Ryan. Whether their former schools represent safety or security for them in a siege situation is unknown – after all who can’t recall the layout of their former school - but it is clear that schools and colleges play an important role for a sizeable percentage of spree killers.

10 Serial Murder or Spree Murder
Mass murder The killing of several people at one location. Spree murder The killing of several people at different locations over a period of days. These killers typically commit suicide or are killed by the police. Two types of mass murderers Those who chose specific targets who the killers believe to have caused them stress. Those who attack targets having no personal connection with the killer but belong to groups the killer dislikes.

11 Serial Murder or Spree Murder
Spree killers move from victim to victim in fairly rapid succession. Spree killing is rare, but spree-killing teams are even rarer and are typically composed of a dominant leader and submissive (lover?). Spree and mass murderers have increased steadily in the United States since the middle of the 20th Century. How can anyone feel so abruptly angry that they suddenly and so completely lose all touch with reality to the extent of killing such a large group of total strangers? A very real difficulty for forensic specialists attempting to research the subject, is that most killers end up unavailable for proper study. Either because the authorities had to shoot them, or the perpetrators end up taking their own lives.

12 Serial Murder or Spree Murder
Not as widely researched as serial killing Very uncommon, although they do appear to becoming more common Spree killers generally have not come to the attention of the police previously Some incident / incidents build up in their life that they feel they need to take action against, and that they are able to access a suitable weapon PLUS Need the creation of an offending space: (1) Firearms (2) Trigger event(s) (3) Victims (4) Autonomy

13 Giannangelo's Diathesis / Stress Model
Biological Predisposition (low arousal levels, possible prefrontal cortex damage, etc) Environmental Trauma/Stress Predisposition Self-esteem and self- control problems Sexual dysfunction Maladaptive coping skills Retreat into fantasy world Dissociative process Kill!

14 Home-Based Spree San Diego, California: Jan 1979
Brenda Spencer 16yrs old History of petty theft, truancy, drug use Christmas 1978 father gave her .22 semi-automatic rifle Grover Cleveland Elementary School Opened fire on pupils from bedroom window Fired 30 rounds Killed 2, injured 9 (8 pupils, 1 police) Barricaded into bedroom Eventually surrendered Tried as adult – double murder and assault with deadly weapon 25 years to life sentence Failed parole 4 times Eligible in 2019

15 The UK’s Unknown Spree Robert Sartin
22yrs old. Social security admin worker Monkseaton, Tyneside April 30th 1989 Took fathers shotgun 20 mins spree Killed 1 (Ken Mackintosh);14 wounded Dressed in black Cartridges in bandolier Drove off to seaside Arrested by undercover officer 1 Murder & 17 attempted murders Insanity plea. Subsequent Sz diagnosis Detained indefinitely at Ashworth Special Hospital

16 Hungerford Michael Ryan 27 yrs Unemployed casual labourer
Legal ownership of shotguns, handguns & semi-automatics No criminal record No mental illness Loner. Fantasists. Military “fanatic” Withdrew after death of father aged 25 Lost occasional labouring jobs. Lived with mother Joined the Tunnel Rifle & Pistol Club Told people he had a gun shop, a fiancé, was ex SAS Started at 12 noon Sat August 19th 1987 Savernake Forest Susan Godfrey 35 picnic mum. 2 kids spared

17 Hungerford narrative #1
Susan Godfrey 35 killed picnic mum. 2 kids spared Refuelled car Kakoub Dean shot at petrol station owner. Gun jammed Drove home to no.4 South View Family dogs Killed Re-supplied / re-armed Car failed to start Shot car 4 times Returned into house – started petrol fire Took 2 rifles and handgun and left on foot Roland & Sheila Mason killed Wounded eye-witness neighbour Witness sees Ryan warn some children to leave the area Moves up and down the same street Dorothy Smith swore at him to shut up and stop Ryan leaves by footpath Lisa Mildenhall (14) shot 4 times but survives


19 Hungerford narrative #2
Ken Clements killed Police air support spots him South View cordoned off PC Roger Bereton shot 4 times killed Shot another car injured occupants (mum and daughter) Abdul Khan shot 3 time – survived Shot at Ambulance team Ivor Jackson shot 4 times (survived) played dead Ivor’s driver shot died in crash Dorothy Ryan arrived on scene Dorothy shot 2 times (leg and stomach) shot twice more in back (dead) TFU called (40 miles away) Ryan moved on across school play ground Elderly neighbour shot at (survived) Francis Butler (dog walker) shot 3 times dead Abandoned M1 carbine (left with berretta and ak47) Shoots at boy on bike (misses) Marcus Barnard shot killed

20 Hungerford narrative #3
Ryan ditches AK47 then picks it up again Shoots and wounds 2 more Shoots at car – killing male driver, wounding female passenger Shoots at 2 people in a van. Van crashes into pole. Eric Vardy driver killed Sandra Hill (20) shot killed driving past Went to no. 60 Priory Rd – broke in Shot killed Victor Gibbs and Myrtle Gibbs Used their house to shoot out to road Shot a passing car killing driver Ian Playle Left no. 60 Priory Rd and headed to former school John o’Gaunt On way shot & killed George Noon (67) Pointed at neighbour and said “bang” then moved on Fired at houses as he passed TFU surround school Ryan throws AK47 with “white flag” from 3rd floor window

21 Hungerford narrative #4
At first he was belligerent, refused to give his name Eventually he seemed willing to talk  They kept up an exchange for over an hour  Helpfully, Ryan let them know where he had dropped his rifle, with a magazine Lamented his mother's death, as well as his shooting of the dogs He asked that they give his dog a proper burial He kept asking if his mother had died, but TFU would not confirm this.  "I won't come out until I know“   "I did not mean to kill her. It was a mistake.“ Throws berretta magazine from window Claims 1 round left in chamber “I wish I had stayed in bed” “If only my car would’ve started” 6:45 muffled shot from berretta 3 hours later police find body in school classroom Cremated 3rd Sept

22 Hungerford Victims Susan Godfrey, 35 – shot and died Kakoub Dean – shot at (missed & firearm malfunction) Roland Mason – shot and died Sheila Mason – shot and died Marjorie Jackson – shot and survived Lisa Mildenhall, 14 – shot and survived Kenneth Clements – shot and died PC Roger Brereton – shot and died Linda Chapman – shot and survived Alison Chapman – shot and survived Abdul Rahman Khan, 84 – shot and died Alan Lepetit – shot and survived Hazel Haslett – windscreen shot, glass injury and survived Ivor Jackson – shot and survived George White – shot and died Dorothy Ryan, 61 – shot and died

23 Hungerford Victims Betty Tolladay, 71 – shot and survived Francis Butler, 26 – shot and died Marcus Bernard, 30 – shot and died Man – shot and survived Douglas Wainwright – shot and died Kathleen Wainwright, 62 – shot and survived Woman driver – shot and survived John Storms, 49 – shot and survived Eric Vardy – shot and died Sandra Hill, shot and died Victor Gibbs, shot and died Myrtle Gibbs - shot and died Man from 62 Priory Road – shot and survived Woman from 71 Priory Road – shot and survived Ian Playle, 34 – shot and died George Noon, 67 – shot and survived

24 Hungerford Motives Attempt raped / assault of Susan Godfrey?
Did “stalk” people Wore camouflage etc. Petrol station shot? Inability to cope with what he had (tried) to do to Godfrey? Legacy that spree killing is form of pent up rage and anger – not always true The Hungerford Report led to the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988, which banned the ownership of semi-automatic centre-fire rifles and restricted the use of shotguns with a magazine capacity of more than two rounds

25 Hungerford Gregory Moffat, childhood specialist
Claimed that victims of bullying are generally small, weak, lack confidence and are loners. Inability to defend themselves against their bullies means that shame, guilt, anger, hate and the need for revenge builds inside them. This powerful mix of emotions is often later expressed in an inappropriately violent response. This seemed to fit the “profile” of Michael Ryan

26 Dunblane Thomas W Hamilton Unemployed former shopkeeper 43yrs old
13th March 1996 8.15 am Thomas Hamilton was seen by a neighbour to be scraping ice off his van outside his home at 7 Kent Road, Stirling. They had a chat. Later he drove off in the van in the direction of Dunblane 9.30 am he parked the van beside a telegraph pole in the lower car park of Dunblane Primary School He took out a pair of pliers and to cut the telephone wires at the foot of the telegraph pole. These did not serve the school but a number of adjoining houses Crossed the car park, carrying weapons, ammunition and other equipment 2 Brownings, 2 Magnums, 743 rounds.


28 Dunblane Entered the school by way of a door on its north
west side which was next to the toilets beside the gym The school day had started at 9 am for all primary classes. Morning assemblies were held in the school's Assembly Hall which was situated between the dining area and the gymnasium. The school had 640 pupils, making it one of the largest primary schools in Scotland. The Assembly Hall was not large enough to accommodate the whole school at one time. Hamilton fired 2 rounds at the stage in the Assembly hall Entered Gym – wearing black, woolly hat and ear defenders Fired indiscriminately into groups of teachers and children Some teachers and children hid in store cupboard nearby

29 Dunblane Hamilton walked around the inside of the gym, then outside the fire escape and fired at passing strangers Re-entered the gym and continued shooting then immediately shot himself. Took less than 5 minutes. Fired 109 times. 1 teacher and 16 children dead 3 teachers and 10 children injured and survived

30 Dunblane Motives and History
Withdrawal of his warrant as a Scout leader in 1974 Undying resentment against the Scouts Hamilton claimed they undermined his work with various boys clubs which he ran from the 1970s onwards The way he ran those clubs, and in particular his insistence that the boys should wear brief swimming trunks which he provided caused complaints from parents Led to his coming into contention with a number of local authorities which owned the school premises where his clubs met


32 Dunblane Motives and History
His summer camps in 1988 and 1991 and his residential sports training course in 1992 were investigated by the police, but he was never prosecuted Hamilton countered these complaints and investigations with complaints of his own against the police and local authority officials In 1995 Central Regional Council was still endeavouring to find ways of making it more difficult for him to obtain the let of their premises Allegations as to his conduct with firearms, and in particular showing them to others and an occasion on which he is said to have threatened Mrs Doreen Hagger with a gun In 1996 his clubs were then in decline He was in serious financial difficulties

33 Dunblane Motives and History
His mood was low and he was deeply resentful of those who had claimed that he was a pervert and had discouraged boys from attending his clubs After a gap of about 8 years his interest in firearms was resurgent There is evidence which points to his making preparations for what he did, a) questions which he put to a boy about the layout and timing of events at the school. b) questioning of a retired police officer about the time which the police would take to respond to an incident. Hamilton was not mentally ill but had a paranoid personality with a desire to control others in which his firearms were the focus of his fantasies. The violence which he used would not have been predictable. His previous conduct showed indications of paedophilia.

34 Copycat Phenomenon Martin Bryant, 28 yrs old April 1996, Tasmania
Port Arthur Tourist Site 35 dead – 35 wounded Shot on the road, Broad Arrow cafe, car park, tool booth, service station, then kidnapped a couple, held man hostage then killed him Captured by police Claimed he “wanted to beat Hamilton’s record” Hungerford occurred 10 days after the “Hoddle St” killings in Melbourne

35 Cumbria Spree Derrick Bird, 52 yrs Taxi Driver 2nd June 2010
Killed 12, Injured 11 Targeted Killings in Lamplugh David Bird brother Kevin Commons – family solicitor Shot taxi drivers in Whitehaven, then drove through Egremont, Gosforth, Seascale Shooting from vehicle Targeted those could get close to e.g. shotgun range Committed suicide at Boot before any stand off or siege


37 Cumbria Motives Bird angered by taxi colleagues
Angered by Brother and family will Previous conviction for theft (suspended) 3 of dead were former Sellafield staff Inland Revenue investigation (£60K stashed in accounts) Thai girlfriend / sex tourist background Sent money to Thailand – dumped by text



40 Northumbria Manhunt Raoul Moat, 37yrs old. PT Bouncer
Recently released from Durham Prison 2 days after release, shot 3 people with sawn off shotgun ex-girlfriend Sam Stobbart Chris Brown PC David Rathband Six days on the run and UK’s biggest manhunt Moat wrote to police - said would not attack civilians – “Not like Bird” Left recordings to say would shoot civilians due to “experts slagging him off” Moat recognised by police and contained in the open at Rothbury 6 hours of negotiation, Moat shot himself in the early hours

41 Northumbria Manhunt Narcissistic Manipulative Compensation
Non-lethal cartridge Warning marks Controlling Body augmentation through anabolic androgenic steroids Obsessed with leaving the legacy of an avenger “Cops harassing some young mum”



44 Role of Media Moat case: ongoing TV 24 hours to fill
Influenced investigation Influenced crime TV swamping communities TV infamy influencing killers APA letter to NBC and CBS

45 Thoughts Spree killing as a form of social protest Akin to slave revolts Reaganomics Engaged in by powerless who cannot cope “Randomness” is questionable Not “crazed” or out of control – some elements of planning and calmness Many types of spree roaming stationary driving mono-location mission-driven Gravitate towards helpless Gravitate towards siege-friendly locations

46 Narcissistic Injury ‘Narcissistic injury’ is a term used to describe spree killers They are particularly emotionally wounded by their failures in life. These humiliations stand in stark contrast to how well they believe they should be doing, given their conviction they are in fact superior to others. Or at the very least they should be doing better than they are. How to explain this predicament? Well, maybe there is a conspiracy. Paranoia

47 Family Annihilation vs Protest Killers
Spree killers may wipe out families as they feel the future is bleak Workplace killers making a social protest Killing the organization or group they hate Colleagues Successful people Community Society e.g. Mark Lepine (25 yrs old) killed 14 women and injured 15 people at a college in Montreal in 1989, left a suicide note claiming this was a protest against feminism.

48 Failure and a Formula to Explode
In non-familial mass killings there is a repeated pattern of failures in life Especially in work, and in personal life Combined with diminishing ability to cope with the resulting stress Add a chronic tendency to blame others for disappointments Acute triggers provoke the actual decision to kill and die Precipitants often found in rampage killings have been sudden unemployment or relationship breakdown, such as the ending of a marriage So a deep sense of frustration, failure, and disappointment in someone who sees themselves as the victim, combined with blaming others for their own problems, mixed in with mounting pessimism that their difficulties cannot be solved, leads to suicidal and homicidal feelings entwined.

49 Predictability A total of 98 USA spree killing incidents took place from 1949 to 1999 90% occurred in the period 1980–1999 Suggests a dramatic increase in spree killings Spree killings are much more likely to occur on week days compared to other kinds of homicide which are more often perpetrated at week-ends??? Perhaps access to groups of weaker victims – schools co-workers - is more obtainable Mon-Fri

50 Preparation for Seminars
Raoul Moat Case Familiarise yourself with; Prior events The killings Manhunt Moat’s life Media role Death Facebook outrage Police conduct Funeral Police investigation

51 References Ames M. Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond, Washington. Soft Skull Press 2011. Foster, Howard.  "Ryan Boasted that He was Never without a Gun." The Times, Sept. 25, 1987. Hilliard, Brian.  "The Hungerford Massacre," Police Review, Oct. 9, 1987. Lane, Brian, and Wilfred Gregg. The Encyclopedia of Mass Murder.  New York: Carroll & Graf, 2004. Jackson CA. in Howard V. Raoul Moat: His short life and bloody death. London. Blake Publishing; 2010 Jackson CA. Psychosocial Hazards - violence. In Smedley, J et al. (eds) Oxford Handbook of Occupational Health. Oxford. Oxford University Press; Jackson CA. Can psychology help in reducing spree-killing incidents? Birmingham Post, Jul. 24, 2011. Jackson CA. Norway analysis: Horrific last resort of a weak and unstable narcissist, The Scotsman, Jul. 24, 2011.

52 References Mass Murderers. Time-Life Books. Alexandria, VA: 1992.
Moffatt G.  Wounded Innocents and Fallen Angels: Child Abuse and Child Aggression.  Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003. Pantziarka, P.  Lone Wolf: True Stories of Spree Killers.  London: Virgin Books, 2000. Uttley S. Dunblane Unburied. BookPublishingWorld (8 March 2006) Wilson D & Jackson CA. Brevik’s not mad BCU press release "Witnesses to a Trail of Terror that Claimed Fourteen Lives," The Independent, Aug. 20, 1987.

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