How Could Someone Do This?

By: Lindsey Ward
By: Lindsey Ward

April 18, 2007

Dewey Cornell is a professor at UVa and an expert on school violence. He gave us some insight to what's going on in the shooters’ minds.

Cornell said in most cases of mass murders the shooter plans the violent attacks well in advance and it's not at situation where they just snap. He said most of them have been angry or depressed for quite some time. Often, they will obsess over a problem in their life that they can't resolve.

During this time of depression they develop what he calls “tunnel vision” and feel they can only express their feelings in an angry act of violence. Cornell said these are all warning signs everyone should pay attention to.

These individuals often make threats of violence they often communicate how they feel and we need to be more open to seeking help for these individuals,” said Cornell.

He added the shooter in this tragedy, so far, fits all of the criteria of a mass murderer. He bought a gun a month ago and another just this past Friday, showing signs of a planned attack. There has even been word from the shooter's roommates he stalked several girls in their dormitory showing signs of obsession or anger.

In our interview with Cornell, he said he trains many schools across Virginia in Threat Assessment Guidelines and he felt at the time Virginia Tech made the right decision to not shut down campus after the first shooting.

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