As a string of gun rampages continues in the U.S. and beyond, more evidence is emerging that copycat mass shooters are on the rise, a danger amplified and accelerated by social media, reports Mother Jones. Two mass shootings this month build on disturbing patterns seen in other cases: an attack on police officers in Baton Rouge and another on mallgoers in Munich, Germany, whose perpetrator displayed a host of behaviors underscoring this troubling phenomenon. Gavin Long, the attacker in Baton Rouge, a 29-year-old black Army veteran who killed three cops and wounded three others before a SWAT officer took him out, was prolific on social media before he struck.
The rampage in Munch last Friday by 18-year-old Ali Sonboly threw that city into chaos over fears of a multipronged terrorist attack. Sonboly, the lone perpetrator who killed nine people and injured many others before committing suicide as law enforcement closed in, appears to have had no connection to Islamist terrorism. Investigators have uncovered a range of evidence suggesting he was a textbook copycat attacker. The many parallels with past cases are striking. One such piece of evidence was literally a textbook. In his apartment, investigators found a German-language edition of Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters. The author, U.S. psychologist and school shootings expert Peter Langman, said his “heart sank” when he learned of that discovery. It was not the first time an attacker displayed an interest in Langman’s studies. The teen who went on a rampage in Colorado’s Arapahoe High School in 2013 also had the book. Investigators in Munich learned that Sonboly collected news coverage and other information on past attacks, behavior familiar from many other mass shooters.