Last winter, in a deeply rural and religious part of south-central Missouri, a man momentarily caught the nation's eye by carrying out one of the deadliest mass shootings of 2015. The reasons for it are elusive because its mastermind knew all of his victims but left investigators with few clues, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. On a frigid February night, convicted felon Joseph Aldridge, 36, armed with guns and knives, donned a military-style vest and fatally shot seven of his neighbors and cousins in the little-known community of Tyrone, 165 miles southwest of St. Louis. He then took his own life. Homes of the victims still sit vacant. Public auctions have sold off equipment at what was Tyrone's biggest business, owned by a family that lost three members in the rampage.
Police and reporters were quick to presume that Aldridge snapped upon finding his cancer-stricken mother dead in their home. Records, however, suggest the gunman planned ahead to execute a nighttime raid with near-perfect precision, leaving some to question whether they could have acted on warning signs before the attack. Some questioned how Aldridge, a convicted felon, came to illegally possess three firearms. Other questions are born of hindsight and regret. “What could I have done or any of us done to save him and all those people?” said Barb Jester, 67, a former teacher of a school Aldridge attended. “I don't know if there is an answer. Sometimes we just don't see people and we don't hear them until it's too late.” Aldridge was visible. Though people say they didn't think he was capable of such a brazen crime, they weren't surprised either when his name emerged.