Las Vegas Murders on Mass Shootings’ Anniversary is Coincidence, Experts Say
Posted on: October 10, 2022, 11:44h.
Last updated on: October 10, 2022, 12:39h.
Last week, two bloody murders in Las Vegas took place within days of the fifth anniversary of the Mandalay Bay mass shooting. Prominent criminologists say local investigators will likely check for any connection in motive between these attacks and the 2017 killings. But there is likely no direct connection between the incidents.
It was on Oct. 1, 2017, when Harvest Music Festival killer Stephen Paddock was perched upon the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay. He fired upon hundreds of concertgoers below using a rifle.
I imagine that investigators will investigate any possible motive, and the anniversary of the Mandalay Bay shooting is likely to be considered,” Creaig Dunton, associate professor of criminal justice at Massachusetts’ Western New England University, told Casino.org.
Adam Lankford, professor and chair of the Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice at the University of Alabama, agreed. Detectives will investigate all possible explanations, he told Casino.org.
“That could include checking their online search histories. That is one way we can know whether they were inspired by previous killers, like the Mandalay Bay shooter.”
But based on initial information, criminologists doubt the recent murders were inspired by Paddock.
Anniversary Doesn’t Mean Copycat
Joni Johnston, a California-based forensic psychologist, cautioned the fact that a crime occurred on an anniversary is not, by itself, any indication that the crime is a copycat.
The only way to really determine if a crime is a copycat … is to catch the criminal and find out why they did it,” she told Casino.org. “And even then, we often have to rely on the perpetrator to tell the truth.”
Dunton pointed out that true copycats usually model deadly attacks on the method used by the initial killer. Neither of the two recent alleged murderers seems to have done that.
Much of what is known about Paddock makes his motive consistent with a “disgruntled citizen-type mass murderer,” Dunton said.
“These individuals usually have some grudge against society at large and lash out in an act of expressive violence to achieve some form of non-specific vengeance that they feel is justified,” Dunton explained. “The targets are usually people who are in the proverbial wrong place at the wrong time.”
The attack Price is charged with “seems indicative of potential psychosis based on the comments captured via police body cameras,” Dunton said. Price allegedly struck the victim in the head with a brick near the Mandalay Bay. He later rambled on about diverse subjects.
“Barrios’ incident … seems more impulsive than a copycat crime would likely be since those tend to be planned out in advance,” Dunton added.
Near the Wynn casino, Barrios had been laughed at by showgirls and “let the anger out,” according to an arrest report. He had asked showgirls to pose for a photo with a foot-long kitchen knife.
Brick/Knife, Not Rifle
Robert Jarvis, a professor at Florida’s Nova Southeastern University’s Shepard College of Law, doubted last week’s crimes were copycats. He noted Paddock used a rifle, while the recent assailants used a brick or a knife.
In addition, copycat cases normally occur shortly after the original crime. “Five years is a very long time for a copycat to emerge,” Jarvis told Casino.org.
Copycats also often carry on the aims of the original killer. “We don’t know why Paddock acted as he did, so a copycat would not know who he or she was supposed to kill,” Jarvis said.
I would be willing to bet a lot of money that the suspected perpetrators of these crimes [Barrios and Price] don’t even know who Paddock was or what he did,” Jarvis added.
Lankford pointed out that, sometimes, copycats draw inspiration from previous criminals who they consider “heroes, kindred spirits, or role models. In other cases, they may not feel a personal connection to the previous attacker, but they saw that individual rewarded in some way, like with fame or notoriety, and they seek the same reward.”
When it comes to copycats, Jacqueline Helfgott, a professor and director of the Seattle University Crime and Justice Research Center, points out that social and individual factors play a role.
“Violent media saturation in culture, the increasingly blurred boundaries between real and digital life, and individual risk factors such as mental health conditions and personality disorders that are characterized by a disturbed sense of identity, all contribute to the copycat effect on criminal behavior,” she said.
Casino.org reached out to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department for comment. A spokesperson declined comment and referred to the arrest report in the cases.
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