For the 5th Anniversary of Virginia Tech’s Massacre:
Talk with Vook, Inc. author and award-winning science journalist Rebecca Coffey about school shooters and how to stop them.
New York, NY, April 3, 2012 (GLOBAL NEWSWIRE)—Precisely two weeks before the April 16 5-year anniversary of the massacre at Virginia Tech, an American campus was hit by yet another slaughter-style massacre. A rampage by a former nursing student left seven people dead at Oikos University in Oakland.
In her new Vook, Inc. book MURDERS MOST FOUL: And the School Shooters in Our Midst, science and psychology journalist Rebecca Coffey reports that slaughter-style killings have hit America’s schools and universities hard since 1927. But, according to her, in 1996 the pace of school massacres accelerated. As it did, law enforcement agencies tried heroically to compile a profile of the typical school shooter. And for a while it looked like they had succeeded; violent media, social rejection, and hormones all seemed to be part of a significant pattern. But the deeper the evidence pile became, the more unique each killer seemed—and the farther the FBI found itself from laying claim to a profile that local police and schools found helpful. One profile the FBI released—telling schools to watch for kids who needed discipline and who had feelings of isolation, anger, and rejection—described virtually every teenager at some point in virtually every day.
In MURDERS MOST FOUL: And the School Shooters in Our Midst, Coffey describes how, eventually, the FBI acknowledged that school murderers come from all sorts of backgrounds, temperaments, and capabilities; they are even of many different ages (youngest 11; oldest 55). Now, with the on-campus body count at around 180, the FBI suggests that many or most school murderers "leak" threats before they kill. One seemingly normal high school student announced that "Monday will be the day of reckoning" the week before killing three of his peers. A high school student’s essays were riddled with off-topic scenes of carnage, and this began a good four years before he brought a hunting rifle to school and started shooting. Even Virginia Tech's Seung-Hui Cho leaked—so much so that he was escorted by campus police to a mental hospital in the days before his rampage.
With a careful look at history and in an anecdotal style, Coffey shows how the FBI’s new focus on “leakage” puts a responsibility on cities, towns, and states. Systems must be in place for parents, educators, community agencies, and law enforcement to communicate efficiently. The importance of that lesson became clear in 2007, when, after being brought by campus security to a mental hospital, Virginia Tech killer Cho was determined to be a danger, at least to himself. A judge, however, assigned him to outpatient mental health care. It was a status that allowed Cho under Virginia law to buy guns. And while the judge assumed that the assessing mental hospital would become the outpatient provider and inherit a duty to monitor Cho, after the massacre the hospital claimed never to have been notified by the court of the judge’s decision. Virginia Tech, like Columbine, is iconic among school and university massacres in America. On April 16 as we commemorate its fifth anniversary, let’s also discuss how FBI guidance about leakage and communication may be our best bet for preventing further tragedies.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rebecca Coffey is a frequent contributor to Scientific American and Discover magazines, a broadcasting commentator on Vermont Public Radio, and blogs for Psychology Today. Coffey is also an award-winning video documentarian and the author of Unspeakable Truths and Happy Endings: Human Cruelty and the New Trauma Therapy, which received abundant praise and an Outstanding Academic Book award from the American Library Association’s Choice magazine.
AVAILABILITY: Coffey is available for in-studio interviews in Washington, New York, Philadelphia, and Boston. She is available 24/7 for phone interviews.
MURDERS MOST FOUL: And the School Shooters in Our Midst.
Pub date: March 12, 2012.
Available for Kindles, Nooks, and in the iBookstore. (In-press PDF files are also available for members of the media.)
$1.99 on all platforms. Media members can contact the author to request a complimentary copy.
More info at MurdersMostFoul.com.
A backgrounder with suggested interview questions is also available.
Contact the author directly:
Rebecca Coffey. Cell 802-579-9020. .
For Vook and Movable Type Management:
Jason Allen Ashlock. 646-484-6419. .