Outside editorial: Mall shooter didn't achieve fame, he gained notoriety

Posted: Tuesday, December 11, 2007

It's not hard to guess what was running through the disturbed mind of the 19-year-old gunman who opened fire in an Omaha department store on Wednesday, killing nine people, including himself, and wounding several others. He told everyone.

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He'd been fired from a nearby McDonald's restaurant, accused of stealing $17, according to an acquaintance. He'd dropped out of high school and had recently broken up with a girlfriend. There was a felony drug conviction and a disorderly conduct charge on his record, the Associated Press reported.

He left a suicide note in which he reportedly wrote that he was "sorry for everything," and would not be a burden on his family anymore.

Most chillingly, he reportedly wrote: "Now I'll be famous." We've seen this before, in the rantings of the Virginia Tech killer who rampaged across the campus earlier this year.

What a sad, sick mind.

It would be wrong to read too much into the tortured logic of someone set on killing himself and others. The troubled souls who kill others or themselves usually have built up a litany of grievances and reasons for their actions.

The dream of posthumous fame via media coverage may be one of them. But being noted as a murderer isn't really fame. Fame is earned. Notoriety is something far less.

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