Apr 19, 2007

Famous Rampage Killings of 15 or More People during the Past Century

Author's Note: Click the link below to see a detailed chart comparing famous rampage killings (excluding those related to war, or done by governments, such as with Tiananmen Square) where 15 or more people died, and that took place in the last century. My purpose is to show that there have been various weapons, settings, nationalities, etc., for the type of killing spree such as Cho Seung-hui perpetrated this past Monday.

I feel compelled due to the backlash against my Korean-American friends to put a more balanced face on these rampage killings. Not that this information will bring us any comfort in our grief, but it should remind us that it's impossible to correctly blame any one place or time or weapon or nationality. Most mass-murderers (in the sample below) were U.S. citizens, but Australia, Cuba, Brazil, and other countries are not immune. Most weapons used were guns, but gasoline and bombs and even bare hands were used as well. This phenomenon is not just a late-20 century thing either. The worst massacre—at a school, no less—was in Bath, Michigan in the 1920s. (You do not want to know the details.)

We think we have the perpetrator psychologically pigeon-holed, and then there's someone like Timothy McVeigh, who didn't seem to fit the pattern at all, or Charles Whitman, who it later turned out suffered from a giant brain tumor. No stereotype seems to fit all, but efforts to search for clues and patterns are crucial.

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