Tuesday, February 13, 2007

"It was Quite Surreal"

A mass shooting took place at a Salt Lake City shopping mall last night:

A historic mall’s winding hallways became a shooting gallery for a gunman in a trench coat who fired a shotgun randomly at customers, slaying five before being killed by police, authorities and witnesses said.

For hours after Monday evening’s rampage at the Trolley Square shopping mall, police searched stores for scared, shocked shoppers and employees who were hunkered down awaiting a safe escort.

Marie Smith, 23, a Bath & Body Works manager, saw the gunman through the store window. She watched as he raised his gun and fired at a young woman approaching him from behind....

Matt Lund was visiting his wife, Barbara, manager of the Secret Garden children’s clothing store, when he heard the first shots. The couple and three others hid in a storage room for about 40 minutes, isolated but still able to hear the violence.

On the way out, Lund said, he saw a woman’s body face-down at the entrance to Pottery Barn Kids and a man’s body on the floor in the mall’s east-west corridor. “There were a lot of blown out store windows and shot gun shell casings all over the floor,” Lund said. “It was quite surreal.”

This incident goes to show that violence can happen at any place at any time, in the most unexpected of places. People often think that if they live in a "safe neighborhood" nothing bad will happen to them, but this is simply not true. I learned a long time ago in my work that the troubled mind can show itself in the most unexpected of places, and it no longer surprises me that violence like this exists; my only comfort is that it does not happen more often.

Update: Hugh Hewitt and Michelle Malkin have more information on the shooter.


Blogger TMink said...

I thought it was the start of the domestic attacks by terrorists. Glad I am wrong, and I hope I am just paranoid. But I had that same sick feeling that I had when I saw passenger planes in the sky after 911.


10:08 AM, February 13, 2007  
Blogger Cham said...

A gunman at the local mall shooting people at random seems like a "terrorist" to me.

10:22 AM, February 13, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...


Yes, a terrorist of the homegrown variety, but my guess is that he is one lone gunman with killer rage who decided a while ago to commit suicide and to act out his anger on his fellow human beings. I doubt he had much of a true political agenda, probably a madman who did not want to leave this world without letting others know the extent of the turmoil that he felt.

10:53 AM, February 13, 2007  
Blogger Cham said...

I'm not so quick to call this young killer a madman. Afterall, Helen, you are the one that wrote the book on troubled kids that explains the problem. Probably just another kid who is depressed, prone to violence, refuses help, has/had lousy parents and has easy access to guns and ammo. He's only different because he chose mall shoppers as his target, as opposed to the other kids on the street corner.

This story is already fading from the headlines, nothing will change, business as usual.

11:16 AM, February 13, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...


Most mass murderers tend to have a psychiatric history, the most common Axis I disorder being paranoid schizophrenia or major depression. Some studies (Hempel and Meloy, 1999) show that 40% of the killers were psychotic when they began to kill. Others, you correctly state are not "mad" in the sense that they have personality quirks rather than psychosis. These personality disorders include paranoid, schizoid, narcissistic, and antisocial.

Psychotic murderers are more likely to kill strangers (so far this 18 year old seems to have killed randomly without knowing the suspects but perhaps we will hear more) and to have higher casualty rates than non-psychotic killers. Most mass murderers die at the scene, either by their own hand or at the hands of the police. They also tend to have a "triggering event"--some kind of affront or rejection hours or days before their murders. I imagine that we will hear more about the motives of this killer as the information comes in.

11:33 AM, February 13, 2007  
Blogger Sarebear said...

This TERRIFIED/IES me! I wasn't there, but this is where I LIVE. Salt Lake hasn't had this before; I was thinking the other day how lucky we are that we haven't had school shootings, given the prevalence of hunting around here (ie, access to weapons).

12:39 PM, February 13, 2007  
Blogger Clay said...

What terrifies me is that nobody in the mall was equiped to respond.

1:39 PM, February 13, 2007  
Blogger TMink said...

Clay, it does beg the question about concealed carry doesn't it. I support gun rights, but I do at times get nervous worrying about common carrying.

I don't carry a firearm, but I would trust myself to do so. I think I would trust most people to. But because of my job I see some very, well, interesting people. Many of them I do NOT want to have easy access to a firearm.

So I guess I support bearing arms after a thorough and accurate vetting. What do you think?


2:11 PM, February 13, 2007  
Blogger Cham said...

Clay, let's say you were in the mall and you had a gun. You see someone firing a weapon at another person. In a snap decision you would have to determine that the person firing the weapon was not a LEO, and also not someone else protecting their own life or the life of a friend or family member before you could justifiably kill or maim a shooter.

2:24 PM, February 13, 2007  
Blogger Sarebear said...

My husband, until a year ago, was an unarmed security guard near the downtown Salt Lake City area.

One of the main reasons so many security guards are unarmed, is a) the cost to the security firm client, and b) (or farther down the list, who knows), safety.

My husband worked for a famous name security firm, that contracts out its guards to various places. My husband was on a contract at one place, after serving on a security contract during the 2002 SLC Olympics.

When re-negotiating the pay rates and contract $$ every year, sometimes the guard's pay would go down, as the client didn't want to pay as much for security. Sometimes it'd go up a little, when the security company really pushed for, and found reception for, the idea that these guys need more pay. In general though, the clients seem to be skinflints. They want security, but don't want to pay much. THAT would be the main reason many or most security guards don't carry guns; armed security costs the client and the security firm quite a bit more.

On the safety issue, it is also thought that there is a high likelihood a perp could or would possibly get the gun away from the security guard, as well as liability issues if the guard started shooting the wrong people, I guess.

Anyway, that's from my perspective of having a security guard husband in the Salt Lake area, and the chintzy amounts clients have to be squeezed to even spend THAT amount on security . . .

2:50 PM, February 13, 2007  
Blogger Yosemite Sam said...

It seems to be a common fantasy that if we could somehow limit or prevent the overall access of the public to firearms then we could somehow prevent these kinds of shootings and gun crimes overall. It is a beguiling fantasy, but it doesn't work.
Criminals are able to easily get firearms in England where handguns and semi-automatic firearms are banned and most others are very heavily regulated. England is an island and the government still can't prevent firearms from getting into the hands of criminals.
If gun control can't keep guns out of the hands of criminals then what use is it?

4:02 PM, February 13, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...

"You can't keep loons from all access, best to have level-headed people around who can stop them."

Like the level-headed off duty officer who the news said "distracted" the shooter until police came. I doubt he distracted him with words.

4:26 PM, February 13, 2007  
Blogger InFerroVeritas said...

Cham said...

"Clay, let's say you were in the mall and you had a gun. You see someone firing a weapon at another person. In a snap decision you would have to determine that the person firing the weapon was not a LEO, and also not someone else protecting their own life or the life of a friend or family member before you could justifiably kill or maim a shooter."

Hmmm.....it is the habit of police officers where you live Cham to dress in trench coats, carry a shotgun into the mall and shoot young women in the face outside of Pottery Barn? I would venture not, if so I would move.

If your point is related to police responding to the scene and trying to determine good guy/bad guy your point is noted. Even cops themselves have a hard time determining friendlies when they arrive on scene. Often off-duty officers are shot by responding police in these types of situations. However, the people closest to this event had no trouble figuring out who the bad guy was when he started shooting. After all they did run away.

What this does bring to light is that 1st responders aren't always necessary the police. But you have to be willing to act.....the Tacoma Mall shooter was confronted by a concealed carry holder who couldn't bring himself to pull the trigger.

The fact is that most people pay the police to carry a gun so they don't have to. If you aren't prepared to provide for your own safety this may be good enough for you.

It is interesting to note, that based on reports the off-duty officer is the one who fired the shot that killed the shooter. Even with a reported response time of 15 minutes for the regular police to arrive, the shooter managed to kill 5 people.

Coupled with the fact that at least here in Ohio some malls are posted “No Concealed Carry Allowed” criminals are assured that if you want to inflict maximal damage with a high probability that your victims will be disarmed, go to the mall. Or better yet a school. We call those areas Criminal Protection Zones (CPZs)

For some people this is an acceptable risk, and then they act surprised when it happens. For me it is not…….over a long period of time I can to the realization that the police probably aren’t going to be there to protect me when I need them. The second thing I realized was to ditch the “It can’t happen here mindset”

4:52 PM, February 13, 2007  
Blogger InFerroVeritas said...

Oh by the way this incident reminds me of the old adage:

"Better to have (or carry) a gun and not need it, than need a gun and not have it"

Remember that when those who are supposed to protect you want to disarm you.

5:01 PM, February 13, 2007  
Blogger Purple Avenger said...

They don't try that stuff too much down here in FL. Last time I checked the state data (maybe 10 years ago), roughly 1:120 people had a carry permit.

Bad odds at a mall.

2:15 AM, February 14, 2007  
Blogger Kirk Parker said...

I don't know, Purple: here in WA we have almost twice the permit-issuance ratio that you do (5.12% vs 2.72% of the adult population) but that didn't stop the Tacoma Mall shooter.

2:59 AM, February 14, 2007  
Blogger Pete the Streak said...

Cham: "Clay, let's say you were in the mall and you had a gun. You see someone firing a weapon at another person. In a snap decision you would have to determine that the person firing the weapon was not a LEO, and also not someone else protecting their own life or the life of a friend or family member before you could justifiably kill or maim a shooter."

Cham, I don't see it that way. As a long time concealed carry permit holder who does indeed carry 99% of the time (where allowed),I would expect a period of confusion after the first shooting ("What the hell just happened here?"). No one truly expects to see an event like this, even though we know it can happen. That is one reason why we carry in the first place. However, while I wouldn't be able to help the first victim, seeing the shooter was a trench-coated guy with a now visible shotgun, I would immediately realize something was horribly wrong. At that point, I'd unholster discreetly and try to get into a position of safe attack should the shooter raise the gun again. If he does so, and I have a clean line of fire with a background clear of innocents, I hope I'd be able to put the guy down before he shoots again.

Responsible citizens that carry are NOT the police. Even had I seen the guy before he shot the first victim, trench coat and all, I wouldn't simply open fire. If he looked THAT strangely, though, I'd sure keep an eye on him. A major part of self defense is being aware of your surroundings, even where trouble is not especially likely. It's possible the guy can shoot a second victim before I'm comfortable enough with my position to fire, although at that point this guy has verified to me what he's up to.

Best case scenario? I keep him from killing victims 3, 4 and 5. This is, of course, of no value to victims 1 and 2, but I'm not the police, and won't act like I am. I would also fully expect that after I had to shoot the guy and everything was over, I'd be an emotional wreck. Shooting someone doesn't turn me on in the least, but seeing an innocent killed, with more certainly on the way, turns me on even less.

This is simply my take on situations like this tragedy.

8:57 AM, February 14, 2007  
Blogger TMink said...

Olig wrote: "What makes you think those people don't have easy access (to guns)?"

Well, excellent point! I was showing some naivete there wasn't I? Glad to know I still have some!


9:42 AM, February 14, 2007  
Blogger TMink said...

Olig wrote: "What makes you think those people don't have easy access (to guns)?"

Well, excellent point! I was showing some naivete there wasn't I? Glad to know I still have some!


9:42 AM, February 14, 2007  
Blogger InFerroVeritas said...

Kirk said...

I don't know, Purple: here in WA we have almost twice the permit-issuance ratio that you do (5.12% vs 2.72% of the adult population) but that didn't stop the Tacoma Mall shooter.

Uhhh....the Tacoma Mall shooter was confronted by a CCW holder who lacked the will to even shoot. Instead he told him (after the shooter had already started shooting people) "Young man, you need to put that gun down" At which point the shooter shot him instead. What he should have down was to start shooting from the pelvis up to the head until the shooter was down and hopefully dead. For those interested, you start at the pelvis to stop his mobility, and work your way up the torso. If he has a bullet proof vest you will make him might uncomfortable until you reach the head.

That is what he should have done, but he said he couldn't do it because the shooter was just a kid.

10:42 AM, February 14, 2007  
Blogger Kirk Parker said...


Just to clarify, what I meant by "stop the Tacoma Mall shooter" was that the knowledge that WA has a higher-than average number of CCW holders (if indeed he even knew that) didn't stop the shooter from planning any carrying out his atrocity. And it's arguable that Dan McKown's intervention, though personally quite costly (and very, very ill-advised, as you point out) nevertheless probably saved others by means of occupying the shooter for some time.

I would take issue with your blanket recommendation of how to proceed, however; in a (presumably) crowded mall scenario, starting at the pelvis and working up might pose too great a risk to the bystanders.

11:27 AM, February 14, 2007  
Blogger InFerroVeritas said...


I would venture to guess, and maybe Dr. Helen can confirm, that for this type of shooter, probably wants a confrontation with the police ala, suicide by cop.

So while the average criminal might pause to reconsider given the chance his potential victim might be armed, this type of psychotic individual doesn't care. Might even play into the fantasy of "going out in a blaze of glory"

What this situation shows is that a quick decisive armed response, either by off-duty, on-duty, or the responsible armed citizen can limit the number of overall casualties.

As for my recommendation of pelvis to head shooting, I didn't think that up on my own, it is a tactic that evolved out the famous "Hollywood Shootout" where 2 armed bank robbers wearing bullet proof vests can be seen walking down the street taking numerous ineffective hits to center of mass.

One committed suicide, and the other was shot in the legs/feet until (he was standing on the other side of a car he was using as a shield until a SWAT member proned out and starting shooting as his feet) he went down and was shot in the head.

The pelvic area is a bigger target than the feet.

The tactic is designed to stop the mobility of the attacker, and shoot him until he stops.

As for risk to the bystanders, I think a armed attacker who can move, run, and shoot is more of a danger than one lying on the floor.

Especially since the next move is to put rounds into his head.

12:16 PM, February 14, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...


This type of shooter has usually decided to commit suicide, either by the police or his own hand; he is unlike the average criminal in that his goal is simply to kill as many people as possible.

My guess is that for some of these shooters, they will do what is necessary to kill as many people as possible. Remember that their script is that people will be frightened and afraid and will not fight back. Only the police will do that and they hope they can take out others before the police get to them. However, even though they may be psychotic, they are not stupid. They purposely choose places where there is little chance they will encounter immmediate resistance. Who at the mall thinks about someone opening fire? Or at a school?

These mass murderers choose places that allow them open access to people where no guns or weapons will be likely to stop them, at least for a while. And yes, they expect to go out in a blaze of glory and often do, with their story splashed all over headline news. What the media's focus on the killer's story does is encourage the next mentally unstable mind to decide to get a little recognition or act out their fury against Americans, schools or whoever they decide deserve the brunt of their dissatisfaction.

1:44 PM, February 14, 2007  
Blogger InFerroVeritas said...


I agree my assessment of the Tacoma shooting was not meant to be a blanket recommendation, but he mindset still stands....engage as quickly as possible, rather than wait for the victims to pile up.

As for your comment:

"Perhaps it shouldn't be this way, but my willingness to spend the rest of my life in court, and all my resources on lawyers, as a result of attempting to defend someone does go down a bit when that defendee isn't a family member or close personal friend."

I agree, 'tis a sad state of affairs for the CCW citizen or non-sworn. Even the average cop, to have your decisions second guessed at leisure by lawyers and the court system over a period of weeks/months can be a deterrent to decisive action. One that I suspect gets officers killed due to indecision. Try Googling for GA deputy Kyle Dinkheller video (WARNING this video is graphic and shows the drawn out murder in all its attendant horror) and you will see an officer who, after commanding a suspect to "Drop the weapon" is murdered. The Deputy had been the subject of a couple of "excessive force" inquiries, who knows if his indecision cost him his life.

This is why in many states (unfortunately not yet in Ohio)are passing "Castle Doctrine" laws which allow citizens who are legally going about their business to meet force with force up to and including deadly force. Previously most States have the "duty to retreat" which states you must run away if you have the chance.

Another important provision is immunity from civil prosecution. Many defensive shootings while not criminally prosecuted find their way into the civil courts. Which can ruin your life as much as jail time. The new laws state the IF the defensive shooting is not prosecuted or is justified, the criminal or his family cannot sue.

I don't want to hijack this thread and turn it into a tactics or legality of CCW involved shootings (perhaps it is too late ) but will let it return to Dr. Helen's original point of her discussion.

2:56 PM, February 14, 2007  
Blogger Matthias said...

I was at Trolley Square just a few hours before the shooting (more here) and it certainly is a bit of a shock for a city that still considers itself to be kind of a small town.

I'm curious for Dr. Helen's thoughts on this... in such a circumstance as this, is it better to try and suppress interest in Talovic (as it fulfills part of the narcissistic fantasy that these kinds of killers feed on) and focus instead on the heroes like off duty police officer, Ken Hammond? Or should we strive to understand Talovic and try to focus on identifying this type of person and trying to identify deterrents to this kind of behavior?

I'm not sure that there is such a thing as a deterrent for those who commit such crimes unless we were to somehow artificially suppress the media frenzy that will inevitably proceed from them. These kinds of killers are clearly intent on some level of suicide (be it self-inflicted or "blaze of glory") and it seems that the extent to which they succeed depends almost entirely on how quickly someone with a gun can stop them.

As a side note, I visited the indoor shooting range near my house on Tuesday... the interest in their concealed carry program has skyrocketed.

7:08 PM, February 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

視訊做愛視訊美女無碼A片情色影劇kyo成人動漫tt1069同志交友網ut同志交友網微風成人論壇6k聊天室日本 avdvd 介紹免費觀賞UT視訊美女交友..........................

10:28 PM, May 19, 2009  

Post a Comment

<< Home