To the Editor:
I was at the Killeen Mall 45 minutes prior to the shooting on Tuesday. I went to window shop before the monthly VFW meeting of Post 9191, down on Zephyr Road. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, and the mall security people were visible at the internal intersections. I was saddened to hear of yet another shooting in Killeen.
After my 20 years of counseling people in the Army — many of whom have killed in combat, or are in military jails or state prisons for murder — I offer a few possible insights on the Killeen shooter.
Convicted murderers like talking about what happened and how they did their crimes. If asked as to the why, they get rather defensive and shut down because then the action of murder that they objectified into a thing, and not a person, becomes too intimate.
In 1958, the French author Eugene Ionesco wrote a theater piece called “Tuer Sans Gage” or “killer without remorse.” In the play, the killer sees relatively tranquil settings and kills people without any apparent purpose.
The Killeen Mall shooter appears to be such a man. If related even remotely to the unsolved killing at a Valero station, robbery apparently is not the motive.
Ionesco writes that this type of man is excited by the sensationalism of his attacks, and does not feel any guilt. This genre of man feeds on the attention he gets and the panic caused by his actions.
I would add that in targeting regular people who are just working their jobs, this man apparently feels a void in his life that is only filled by attacking and shocking people that are, at the time, rather helpless.
The attitude of such an aggressive individual to gain a feeling of power through violence indicates a very low sense of self-esteem. To wit, this personal sense of inadequacy appears to be compounded by his lack of seeing any kind of real significance to his life. That perceived void is filled by shock and awe. It could also be that this shooter was victimized in some way. As such, he uses his perceived victimization as an angry excuse to become a random oppressor, disappearing for a time only to return when the satisfaction and pleasure fades. The last of which is an all-too-familiar pattern in unbroken circles of violence.
Even if caught some time from now, this person’s arrogance and assumed sense of invulnerability will be his dramatic undoing.
Hopefully this man will be caught without more innocent lives like the killer racked up in Ionesco’s play.
Retired chaplain, U.S. Army major