It happened in Indianapolis: there was a mass shooting overnight at a FedEx Ground facility near the airport. Nine people are dead and five more were injured. The dead include the alleged shooter, who took his own life, apparently after an encounter with police in or near the building. At least one occupied car was shot at in the parking lot. The driver seems to have been uninjured and drove to another nearby lot; local TV news has shown enlarged images of three apparent bullet holes in the sheet metal.
And that's all anyone other than the police know right now. That's all there is. It hasn't kept news organizations from speculating. When the local station Tam and I watch elected to stay local rather than go to their network feed, we turned to the ABC affiliate, where a Good Morning America reporter assured us the weapon used "...was almost certainly an assault rifle."
Well...maybe? At least one witness has reported seeing a rifle in the hands of the shooter. The AR-15 is the most commonly-owned rifle in the U.S., and one of the most affordable. But it's guesswork. The reporter didn't show the bullet holes; Tam and I agreed that from the images, we were confident the weapon used wasn't any kind of .22LR and was unlikely to be a shotgun, but that's as much as the evidence supports.
By the end of the day, we will know the murderous fool's middle name* and if he left some kind of screed or manifesto; pundits will be speculating on his motivation and reporters will be scrambling to interview family members, schoolteachers and the person in charge of whatever religious assembly the killer attended, if any.
He will be made famous.
You may have noticed this kind of multiple murder -- unexpected, not known to be linked to any kind of gang activity or robbery -- tends to run in clusters, in a way that looks similar to the phenomenon of "suicide clusters" seen in some populations (especially teens).
You may have read that some mass shooters appear to have kept track of previous killers, almost as a sports fan might amass statistics of player performance.
Whatever else their motives -- mental imbalance, loathing some person or group, wanting to begin war between sexes, races or religions, and so on -- all of these shooters give a credible impression of seeking attention. Of desiring posthumous fame. One strikes and is a three-day sensation in the news online and over the air, and others follow, time and again.
We've got to stop making these horrible losers famous. Whatever else we do -- and there's a long list of suggestions, from "ban all the guns" to "arm everyone," with stops at "put a policeman on every corner" and various sorts of profiling -- we have got to stop making them famous.
* You won't read it here. It has long been the policy of my blog that I don't share the names of mass killers in the news. Yes, it's a tiny gesture, any search engine will reveal the name as soon as it is known, but it's what I can do and so I do it.
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