Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

The Aurora (CO) Massacre: Why Did This Happen?

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Another horrific incident has happened, folks — James Holmes, 24, of Colorado, shot at least 71 people at an Aurora, CO, movie theater during a midnight showing of the latest “Batman” movie.  So far, 12 have been killed, with more people in critical condition who could pass on at any time in what’s being called the worst mass shooting in American history. 

And Holmes did this . . . why?

The best guess as to why Holmes did this seems to be that Holmes is a psychopath, and/or is mentally ill to such a degree that he does not understand the world or the people around him in the same way most of the rest of us do.  Holmes may have thought he was the Joker (one of the best-known “Batman” characters); Holmes may have thought that what he was doing was sanctioned and allowed, considering the current “Batman” movie features explosions in public places.

Here’s a link to Yahoo’s report:

http://gma.yahoo.com/colorado-batman-movie-shooting-suspect-phd-student-085940589–abc-news-topstories.html

What has come out about Holmes thus far is troubling.  Holmes was a Ph.D. student who’d moved to Colorado in order to pursue his degree at the University of Colorado Medical Center.  He was brilliant, planning his attack to a surprising degree (to the point that he had not one, not two, but four separate guns, with at least two being assault rifles — this last according to AM 620 WTMJ Radio in Milwaukee.  Their on-the-hour news report gave these additional details).  And Holmes booby-trapped his apartment to the point that had the police not known about it (because Holmes himself told them), the apartment building would’ve blown sky high.

So those are the facts as we know them right now; what I’m after, though, is a bit more elusive.  To wit: why would someone this bright do something this terrible?

Honestly, I have no answers, though I do have many questions.

First, why was this man not in a mental hospital?  (Especially considering that his mother’s first reaction after being contacted by the media was, “You have the right guy,” not the usual “I can’t believe this is happening!” denial?)

Second, how did this man successfully buy four separate guns of various descriptions in only a few months?  Especially as it appears he bought them all within the city of Aurora or its environs (meaning Boulder or even Denver, but not all that far away as the crow flies)?  Additionally, how did this guy amass all the military-grade body armor he was wearing at the time of his arrest without anyone taking note of it, either?

Third, the story of victim Jessica Ghawi, also 24, is instructive . . . Ghawi had narrowly avoided a different public shooting in Toronto a month ago, but was unable to avoid being shot and killed by by Holmes.  She was an aspiring sports journalist who loved hockey, had a hockey-player boyfriend who spent much time in the minors, just looking for his big break — his name is Jay Maloff — and was well-known to many hockey reporters and sports reporters of all sorts due to her Twitter presence.  (She wrote under the name of Jessica Redfield.)

This was a young woman with everything ahead of her.  She had a great boyfriend.  She had done many internships at radio stations, newspapers, and was about to be hired at Mile High Sports, which seems to have been enthusiastic about Ghawi’s writing and knowledge of hockey.  She had drive, charm, what friends and colleagues are calling an outsized personality, and was the type of person who was going places and doing things.

So why, oh why, is Jessica Ghawi dead today?  Because of a crazy man, that’s why.  And that’s not good enough; it shouldn’t be.

All we can do is this.  Remember the people who died in this senseless act.  Remember their lives.  Remember what they did while they were here, and honor them.  That’s the only way to gain any meaning whatsoever from this atrocious act.

But before you say it, I am well aware that it’s not nearly enough.  (It’s just all we have.)

Aside from that, do your best to remember your sense of betrayal and outrage when you heard about this latest tragedy.  Remember how awful it is that twelve people, including the young and talented Ghawi, are already dead, with more to assuredly follow.  Remember that it didn’t have to be this way.  Then push for more mental health funding and treatment, because the possibility of prevention is far better than the “pound of cure” we’re now forced to endure.

No matter what you do, though, don’t you dare become inured to horrific violence.  Don’t start seeing things like this terrible Aurora shooting as typical behavior, either.

Because if you do become inured, or start seeing things like this as typical, psychopathic gunmen like Holmes win.  And the rest of us lose even more than we already have.

2 Responses

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  1. In short, there is nothing in the Assault Weapons Ban to suggest that its renewal would have made very much of a difference last week. The loopholes, perhaps intentionally, were far too wide. Holmes would have had many options and it is likely that many still would have died.

    gold account

    July 25, 2012 at 10:17 am

    • I’d tend to agree with you. I think the solution, if there is one, is with better mental health treatment. Holmes was under a psychiatrist’s care. He was away at school, having trouble for the first time in his academic life — perhaps his study habits were bad (it surely sounds like it) — and his mind did something strange.

      Most students, though, would _never_ do this. Not in a million years. Not even under inordinate stress — which is why I think the answer, once again, comes down to mental health treatment. (Holmes needed treatment probably when he was still in his teens. Did he get it? And if he did, why didn’t it work?)

      Barb Caffrey

      August 2, 2012 at 3:41 am


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