KSLA Special Report: Inside the mind of a gunman

KSLA Special Report: Inside the mind of a gunman

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, it's time to look beyond the headlines and into the minds of the gunmen behind mass shootings.

Adam Lanza and James Holmes have become the latest faces of evil, both accused of committing terrible acts of violence.

Lanza is believed responsible for the deaths of 20 first graders and 6 adults inside a Connecticut elementary school in December.

Back in July, Holmes reportedly opened fire inside a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, killing 12 people and injuring 58 others.

"Let's figure out what's causing people to, to be evil," says Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator.

That's exactly the task faced by forensic psychiatrist Dr. George Seiden.

"The people that I have evaluated through the years, who I consider the most dangerous and maybe even the most evil, are people who are, who have done bad things and don't care about what they have done to other people."

Seiden confronts this evil face to face. His job is to figure out the why behind the violence.

"So, it's the absence of the ability to empathize, the absence of remorse. Those things for me are most critical," Seiden says.

Experts see a pattern to these mass murderers.
They often involve young men in their 20s.
They may have a grudge against a person or a place, where something happened to them.
They frequently have untreated or undiagnosed mental illness.

But that also describes countless other Americans who never become cold-blooded killers.

Some experts say it's all those factors, and possibly others, that create a so-called perfect storm that leads an otherwise troubled person to act in horrific ways. In other words, experts don't honestly know the whole answer.

"While we do have some idea after the fact to what might have been going on with a particular individual, we don't have enough information to be able to predict ahead of time, in a general sense," says Dr. Bruce McCormick, family psychologist.

McCormick says that these mass killings aren't typically the result of someone just snapping but rather deliberate acts, often pain-stakingly planned.

"I think there's good reason to believe that media violence and video games are a strongly contributing factor for a very small number of people," McCormick says.

Those violent images may exacerbate underlying problems for that small group of people, like salt on a wound, McCormick says.

"Certainly not sufficient in and of itself. It's not a cause but it may be a contributing factor to the right person."

Others see the surge in mass killings as a symptom of a larger problem in society, where we've become so focused on our devices that we interact less and less with others face to face.

Seiden: "When you do that it's much easier to not think of the other person as a person," which could lower the barrier to violence.

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