As details on Friday morning's mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater continue to emerge, East Texas health professionals weighed in on what could have driven someone to commit this type of violent attack.
“Any time something like this happens, a mass shooting at a movie theater, a school, the mall, everyone's first thought is, 'How in the world someone could do this?'” Dr. Thomas Wilson Renfroe, a Tyler psychologist, said. “They often wonder, 'How could someone not see that he had problems?' Usually, in retrospect, it turns out, yes, he did show signs of problems.”
Renfroe and other health professionals agree that without knowing the suspected shooter, 24-year-old James Holmes, and his history it is difficult to determine an exact motivation for such a crime.
Dr. Gayle Burress, a Tyler psychologist, said any number of things could have motivated Holmes.
“There could be a voice inside his head that told him to, or it could be an act of revenge, but because we are not inside this person's head, we may never know what the truth really is,” Dr. Burress said.
After following the incident, Dr. Bobbie Burks, a licensed professional counselor in Tyler, said that because of the premeditated and methodical nature of the attack, whatever motivated Holmes was most likely “a result of something building up over a long period of time.”
“People like this, who act out against society, believe society has done them wrong in some way,” Dr. Burks said. “They blame society for their own personal issues, and that manifests itself into acts of violence.”
“For a guy to go into a movie theater or a school or a mall and do something like this, the thinking is he has to be off,” Renfroe said. “Whether he is having delusional thoughts or he feels he has to get back at someone, he has developed some sort of belief system to justify his actions.”
As the victims of the attack continue to recover, Dr. Burks said each will have to work through and mentally deal with what occurred.
“Everyone in that theater is going to have to process that trauma,” Dr. Burks said. “For parents of children in the theater, I would recommend talking with their children and letting them know that this is an isolated incident and assuring them that even though they can't protect them from everything, the world is still a safe place.”