Jeff Weise, perpetrator of the latest school shooting spree, is said to have worn a trench coat and listened to Marilyn Manson, the Goth icon. He expressed his admiration for Hitler on a neo-Nazi Web site. In the midst of his murderous rampage, Weise asked a classmate if he believed in God, then shot him, notes the New York Times, citing “eerie echoes of the nation’s most infamous school tragedy, six years ago at Columbine High School.”
Experts on school shootings said Weise appears to fit into a pattern of disaffected youth who struggle to fit in at homogenous schools, then erupt in violence to seek attention, enact revenge, and gain power over people who have taunted them. They interpret his Internet postings as an outcast’s quest to belong to something larger. Said sociologist Katherine Newman of Princeton University, editor of “Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings,” “This is someone who is a failed joiner, who is repeatedly trying to gain access to peer groups that reject him.” Paul Viollis, author of the 2001 book “Avoiding Violence in Our Schools,” said “the Nazi issue is a collateral issue,” a way for someone not on the football team or in the popular clique to find an identity.