Federal agents investigating the April 16 shootings at Virginia Tech believe Seung Hui Cho displayed many of the same characteristics of a criminal behavioral profile called the “Collector of Injustice,” or someone who considers any misfortune against him the fault or responsibility of others, the Washington Post reports. Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives think Cho mentally and physically tried to transform himself into an alter ego he called “Ax Ishmael” before his rampage. In the weeks leading up to the massacre of 32 students and faculty members, Cho changed his personality from passive to active. On the morning of the shootings, he deleted his Hotmail account from his computer and he removed the hard drive; investigators have not been able to find it.
Investigators think “Ax Ishmael” is based on the biblical figure Ishmael, who lived as an outcast, and his brother Isaac was favored. Writings that Cho left in his dorm room, sent to the Virginia Tech English Department and mailed to NBC reveal twisted references to religion as part of his identity. Nearly 400 state troopers and investigators, with agents from the ATF and FBI, have worked on the case. Dubbed Operation Prevail, the investigation has explored every aspect of Cho’s life, including mental health issues and his school records. “It is always someone else’s fault, and the world is out to get them,” Bart McEntire of the ATF’s Roanoke office, said in describing people who fit the “Collector of Injustice” profile. Eventually, the person’s compilation of wrongs becomes overloaded, and he lashes out violently to right them and get even with those who he believes have caused him misfortune and ridicule.