Why did four young men in the St. Louis area shoot two people and carjack seven at random in a little more than three days for “entertainment,” in the word of St. Louis Police Chief Joe Mokwa?
With three of the men in custody, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch explored that question.
Dean James Gilsinan of the St. Louis University College of Public Service noted that without an economic motive, “It doesn’t appear that the crime had a pragmatic goal.” Another possibility is peer pressure. “There’s a saying that the major cause of youth homicide is, ‘I dare you,'” said Franklin Zimring of the University of California at Berkeley School of Law. “The price of appearing cowardly is greater than the cost of going through with it.”
Criminologist Scott Decker of the University of Missouri-St. Louis mentioned a snowball effect: “Once you’ve stolen the first car and shot the first person, you cut yourself off from going back and making it right.”
Several episodes have resembled the St. Louis spree, the Post-Dispatch says. Last year, Houston authorities charged two men in their 20s and a 15-year-old with killing two waitresses and a teenage girl in several carjackings and burglaries. In 2000, police blamed three youths under 16 for six days of carjackings in Milwaukee and two other cities.