Thursday, March 12, 2009

Clearer Picture of Ala. Killer Michael McLendon Forming, Girlfriend Troubles

When I posted on the mass murder in Samson Ala., the first time, I linked to stories that the shooter was training to be a police officer, that he kept a revenge list (disputed), and that some people described him as friendly, a nice guy. After posting, I saw surfers searching for more information on the killer, Michael McLendon, 28, namely his race and a picture.

Well, there he is, at your left in the upper corner of this post, a baby-faced killer. It's an undated photo published at CBS News via the AP. CNN, CBS, and other sources also have a picture of McClendon with a mustache from his high-school yearbook, which you'll see to your left below this paragraph.

I saw the first picture while visiting one of my regular reads, Field Negro, who thinks, and I agree, that the McLendon massacre is another reason to examine gun control or the lack of it. He also notes how friends and family never have a bad thing to say about killers:
I heard the first apologist for Michael McLendon last night on Anderson Cooper 's show. "Oh he was a good kid, he grew up with my kids, I used to be his T-ball coach". You would think the guy was recommending the shooter for one of those Hero episodes on CNN. No sir, Michael was a fucking lunatic ,who slaughtered 10 people before cowardly taking his own life. It's that simple. But just like the mothers and grandmothers who swear little Pookie couldn't hurt a fly, --the same Pookie who was pulling stick ups and shooting rival drug dealers on the corner since he was old enough to drive-- these folks make excuses for the inexcusable. (Field Negro)
Yeah. I immediately think of William Balfour's mother defending her son who is the primary suspect in the Jennifer Hudson family murders. I'm not talking about her belief that her son didn't commit the murders because whether he did that crime has yet to be proven. I'm speaking of how she talked to Nancy Grace about the legal technicalities of his prior convictions. She thinks her son was treated unfairly. In once instance she suggested he should not have been convicted of carjacking because the car's owner wasn't in the car when Balfour started stealing it, but jumped on the hood or something when he realized Balfour was trying to steal the car. WTF!

The people of Samson say they're shocked because this kind of crime doesn't happen in small times. They're wrong. These kinds of killing sprees do happen in small towns because crazy doesn't confine itself to urban areas.

Police are still trying to piece together McLendon's motive for the massacre. One co-worker says McLendon was teased at work and appears to have split with the girlfriend. Some sources report the girlfriend as missing. Other sources report he killed her:
A neighbor who would not give her name for publication said the gunman had also killed his girlfriend.

“I heard pop, pop, pop, pop, and my daughter called me,” the woman said. “I’m sickly and old and she said, “Mother, lock your doors and stay inside.’ She said there’s a man on a rampage shooting.” (NYT)
In addition, it's said he had financial problems. In this economy that's no surprise, and various experts have predicted an increase in violence due to financial woes.

People may appear friendly on the surface, even happy, but roil on the inside. You may never know the rage they cloak until they pick up a gun. But while people say McLendon was friendly with everyone, some also say he stayed to himself, a comment we often hear after killing sprees.

Is this another case of people calling someone shy while the person themselves feels left out and isolated? He was friendly to everyone but who was friendly to him? I'm not making an excuse for the murders, but I am wondering how society can do better by people in mental and emotional distress. Why do we miss the signs of psychotic breaks?

As for gun control, I live in the New Orleans metropolitan area where the streets run red with blood each day. Why is it we can't keep these teens from getting their hands on guns? Why is it that so many people of all ages can get guns so easily? The NRA gets no kudos from me.


msladyDeborah said...

I am not sure if the picture will ever be clear enough to understand why McLendon decided to go on a killing spree.

His actions indicate that there was a lot of rage on the inside. For reasons that we may never know.

There are a lot of stressors in the mix. At what point did they combine and translate to murder? That will probably always be elusive to us.

Vérité Parlant said...

Lots of stressors is right. He was probably hiding a lot of rage that others were not sensitive enough to see or kept expecting him to "get over it."