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18 Homicide Stud. 3 (2014)

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Article

                                                                   Homicide Studies
                                                                 2014, Vol. 18(1) 3-6
Mass Murder in              Perspective:                       2013 SAGE Publications
                                                              Reprints and permissions:
Guest Editor's Introduction                           sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav
                                                        DOI: 10.1177/1088767913514406
                                                                   hsx.sagepub.com
                                                                     SAGE

jack  Levin'




Police reports are filled with familiar cases ofhomicide-those in which a killer takes
the life of a single victim after having a heated argument that escalates into a physical
attack. Two men in a bar have a verbal exchange; one pulls out a gun and shoots the
other. Or, a married couple argues at home. One takes a knife from the kitchen drawer
and stabs to death his partner. Or, a teenager shoots a rival gang member after feeling
disrespected by a challenging glance or an obscenity shouted in his direction.
   This special issue of Homicide Studies goes beyond the more traditional and mun-
dane cases of single-victim homicide to examine the causes, characteristics, and con-
sequences of a type of murder that is relatively rare but also extremely consequential.
The  articles in this issue focus on mass murder-incidents of multiple homicide in
which a number of victims are slain simultaneously in one or two locations.


Single-Victim Homicide Versus Mass Murder
Mass  murder  differs from its single-victim counterpart in a number of important
respects: First, unlike the many homicides that are spontaneous or impulsive acts,
most mass murders  are premeditated and methodically planned-sometimes for days
or weeks, other times for months. The Columbine High School killers who took 13
lives at their school in April 1999 had planned for more than a year before they opened
fire on their schoolmates. Similarly, R. Gene Simmons who, in 1987, shot to death 14
family members  in Dover, Arkansas, made his preparations for 8 months after being
rejected by his wife and children at a family meeting. In December 2000, Michael
McDermott  placed firearms and ammunition under his desk where he was employed
at Edgewater Technology in Wakefield, Massachusetts. Then, he waited 24 hr before
opening fire on his seven coworkers. In December 2008, 45-year-old Bruce Pardo
walked into a Christmas Eve party in Covina, California, where he shot to death nine


'Northeastern University, Boston, MA, USA
Corresponding Author:
Jack Levin, Northeastern University, 360 Huntington Avenue, The Brudnick Center on Violence and
Conflict, 500 Holmes Hall, Boston, MA 02115, USA.
Email: Jlevin 1049@aol.com

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