List Notes: Data is worst massacres committed with a firearm by one person in recent, known, history that can be verified. Age is perpetrators age at the time of the killings. List does not include the perpetrator in the number of people killed.
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According to forensic psychiatrists most mass murderers who commit their atrocious acts in high numbers do so because of generalized paranoia and rage against the world rather than a specific grudge. This theory is called "representative victimization" and is the second most common kind of mass murderer (after targeted victims such as at a workplace). This type of murderer is one who targets people who represent what they consider to be the source of their woes. In such cases, "the perpetrator has a grudge against the world and feels that if it were not for the system, things would have gone better for him," says criminologist James Alan Fox of Northeastern University, who with colleague Jack Levin has studied every mass murder in the United States since the early 1980s. "He doesn't care who he kills as long as he kills a lot of people." About 16 percent of mass killings target complete strangers, said Levin, professor of sociology and criminology at Northeastern. They are not necessarily more or less severely mentally ill than murderers who target acquaintances or people who belong to a group they resent, but their pathology takes a distinct form.
Wide-ranging suspicion that the world has treated you unfairly can be a sign of paranoid personality disorder. The American Psychiatric Association defines that condition as "a pervasive distrust and auspiciousness of others such that their motives are interpreted as malevolent, beginning by early adulthood." (a.) The rate of killings in the U.S. involving five or more victims — one generally accepted definition of a mass killing — represents less than 1% of all homicides. Mass killing, says Diane Follingstad, a professor of clinical and forensic psychology at the University of South Carolina, "is a low baserate thing. It just does not happen very often." (b.)
Woo Bum-Kon was a Korean police officer in the mountainous region of Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea. Bum-Kon carried out the worst recorded killing spree in known history killing 56 people and then himself after having an argument with his girlfriend. After drinking large amounts of whisky he then raided the police armoury of its weapons and built a personal arsenal. Bum-Kon then stole a single high-powered rifle and some grenades and left the armoury. Around dinner time he then started walking from house to house, and abused his position as a police officer to make people feel safe and gain entry to their homes. Then he shot the victims, or killed the entire family with a grenade. He continued this pattern for the next eight hours and into the early morning hours of April 27th traversing 5 villages on his killing spree. Finally, Woo took his final two grenades and strapped them to his body, he then held three people captive and then exploded the grenades, killing both himself and his final victims.
Martin Bryant reportedly had an obsession with the movie trilogy Child's Play. His killing spree lasted 8 hours. He is currently serving 35 life sentences plus 1,035 years without parole in the psychiatric wing of Risdon Prison in Hobart Australia. Bryant allegedly told a next door neighbour that "I'll do something that will make everyone remember me." Bryant initially pleaded not guilty to the charges, but was persuaded by his court-appointed lawyer and the prosecution to plead guilty to all charges. He has attempted suicide six times while being imprisoned and now resides at the Wilfred Lopes Centre, a secure mental health unit run by the Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services which is a 35-bed unit for inmates with serious mental illness which is staffed with doctors, nurses and other support workers. Inmates are not locked down and can come and go to and from their cells.
Campo Elías Delgado reportedly shot 23 of his victims to death at point-blank range at a luxurious Italian Restaurant called Pozzetto after ordering a meal and drinking eight vodka tonics. Delgado arrived at the restaurant at around 19:30 carrying .32 revolver and five boxes of ammunition hidden in a briefcase. He then ordered an expensive meal and about one hour into the dinner he opened fire on the diners shooting 21 people to death (mostly women). Eventually, he was apparently killed with a shot to the temple by a police officer. However, there is also a belief that Delgado committed suicide before being captured or killed.
Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people and wounded many others in two separate attacks, approximately two hours apart, before committing suicide. He had previously been diagnosed with a severe anxiety disorder and during much of his middle school and high school years, he received therapy and special education support. In 2005, Cho was accused of stalking two female students. After an investigation, a Virginia special justice declared Cho mentally ill and ordered him to attend treatment. 10-12 minutes after the second attack began, Cho shot himself in the head. During this second assault, he had fired at least 174 rounds, killing 30 people and wounding 17 more. During the two attacks, Cho killed five faculty members and 27 students before committing suicide. The Virginia Tech review panel reported that Cho's gunshots wounded 17 other people; six more were injured when they jumped from second-story windows to escape.
Top 5 facts sources:
Chicago Tribune. 2012. "Accused Colorado killer no easy fit for mass murderer profile" Retrieved July 25th, 2012.
Kiviat, B., Park, A., Sayre, C., "Inside a Mass Murderer's Mind." 2007. April. 19th. Time. Retrieved July 25th, 2012.