Timeline of Mass Shootings and Psychiatry
Rod Mathews 1986
Another case involving a school-age youth – although not at a school – happened in 1986, when 14-year-old Rod Mathews of Canton, Mass., beat a classmate to death with a baseball bat while on Ritalin.
As an example, on November 20, 1986, after being on Ritalin since the third grade, fourteen-year-old Rod Mathews lured a classmate, Shawn Ouillette, into a wooded area near his home in Canton, Massachusetts, under the pretense of a plan to build a snow fort, and beat him to death with a baseball bat.
James Wilson 1988
Later that same year, 19-year-old James Wilson went on a shooting rampage at the Greenwood, S.C., Elementary School and killed two 8-year-old girls and wounded seven others. He’d been on Xanax, Valium and five other drugs.
On September 26, 1988, 19-year-old James Wilson took a .22 caliber revolver into an elementary school in Greenwood, South Carolina and started shooting schoolchildren, killing two 8-year-old girls and wounding seven other children and two teachers. Wilson had been in and out of the hands of psychiatrists for years and within 8 months of the killings he had been on several psychiatric drugs which can generate violent behavior. Since the age of 14, he had been given psychiatric drugs, including Xanax, Valium, Thorazine and Haldol.
Laurie Dann 1988
In 1988, 31-year-old Laurie Dann, who had been taking Anafranil and Lithium, walked into a second-grade classroom in Winnetka, Ill., and began shooting. One child was killed and six wounded.
Winnetka Killer Treated With Psychiatric Drug
By Ray Gibson
Chicago Tribune – June 2, 1988
Laurie Dann, the woman who shot and killed a Winnetka 2d grader and wounded six people on May 20, was being treated with an experimental drug used to control a psychiatric disorder, Cook County Medical Examiner Robert Stein said Wednesday.
Stein said that traces of a drug called clomipramine, which is known by the trade name Anafrail, were the only drug that turned up in blood tests performed in conjunction with Dann’s autopsy. Dann killed herself after the shootings.
It is unclear where Dann, 30, received the drug, but her University of Wisconsin psychiatrist was authorized to dispense it as part of clinical tests being performed to meet federally mandated Food and Drug Administration requirements.
Kip Kinkel 1998
Kip Kinkel, a 15-year-old of Springfield, Ore., in 1998 murdered his parents and proceeded to his high school where he went on a rampage killing two students and wounding 22 others. Kinkel had been prescribed both Prozac and Ritalin.
June 2, 1997
Sixth Counseling Session: Prozac Recommended
According to Hicks’s notes, Faith thought that Kip’s behavior had been better, but felt he had also become quite cynical. Dr. Hicks discussed the use of anti-depressants and recommended Kip try a course of treatment with Prozac. He wrote: “Kip reports eating is like a chore. He complains that food doesn’t taste good. He often feels bored and irritable. He feels tired upon awakening most mornings. He reports there is nothing to which he is looking forward. He denies suicidal ideation, intent or plan of action.” Hicks forwarded these notes to the Kinkel family physician with a recommendation that Kip be put on Prozac for depression. The physician concurred, and four days later Kip began taking 20 milligrams of Prozac per day.
June 18, 1997
Seventh Counseling Session : Prozac seems to be working
Kip was on Prozac for 12 days. Hicks wrote that Kip was “sleeping better. No temper outbursts, taking the medication as prescribed without side effects.” He also noted that Kip appeared less depressed.
Patrick Purdy 1989
Patrick Purdy, 25, in 1989 opened fire on a school yard filled with children in Stockton, Calif. Five kids were killed and 30 wounded. He been treated with Thorazine and Amitriptyline.
April 1987: Arrested for firing a gun in El Dorado National Forest. Charged
with vandalism, resisting arrest, and assault on a peace officer. Attempts
suicide in El Dorado County jail. Is diagnosed as suicidal and homicidal
while at that facility. Is sent to Placerville Psychiatric Health Facility
for further evaluation. Id diagnosed as “extremely dangerous,” and
deemed competent to stand trial. Is convicted of a misdemeanor; all
other charges dismissed. Sentenced to 45 days in jail and three years’
Steve Lieth 1993
Steve Lieth of Chelsea, Mich., in 1993 walked into a school meeting and shot and killed the school superintendent, wounding two others, while on Prozac.
Tommy Becton 1996
10-year-old Tommy Becton in 1996 grabbed his 3-year-old niece as a shield and aimed a shotgun at a sheriff’s deputy who accompanied a truant officer to his Florida home. He’d been put on Prozac.
Michael Carneal 1997
Michael Carneal, 14, opened fire on students at a high school prayer meeting in Heath High in West Paducah, Ky. Three died and one was paralyzed. Carneal reportedly was on Ritalin.
On December 1, 1997, 14-year-old Michael Carneal, was on Ritalin, when he started firing a gun during a prayer meeting at a high school in West Paducah, Kentucky, killing Jessica, 17, Kayce, 15, and 14-year-old Nicole, and wounding five other students, including one who is paralyzed.
Andrew Golden and Mitchell Johnson 1998
In 1998, 11-year-old Andrew Golden and 14-year-old Mitchell Johnson apparently faked a fire alarm at Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Ark., and shot at students as they left the building. Four students and a teacher were killed. The boys were believed to be on Ritalin.
On March 24, 1998 in Jonesboro, Arkansas, 11-year-old Andrew Golden and 14-year-old Mitchell Johnson shot and killed one teacher, four students, and wounded 10 others. According to published reports, the boys were on Ritalin.
Shawn Cooper 1999
In 1999, Shawn Cooper, 15, of Notus, Idaho, took a shotgun to school and injured one student. He had been taking Ritalin.
April 16, 1999: Notus, Idaho: 15-year-old Shawn Cooper fired two shotgun rounds in his school narrowly missing students; he was taking a mix of antidepressants.
“Teenage Rampage: The Worldwide Psychotropic Prescription Phenomenon.” By Antonio Mendoza
(excerpt) Shawn Cooper of Notus, aged 15 (SSRI and Ritalin) took a 12 guage shot gun to school and started firing, injuring one student and holding the school hostage for about 20 mins.
Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold 1999
April 20, 1999, Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, shot and killed 12 classmates and a teacher and wounded 24 others. Harris had been taking Luvox.
On a visit to his home April 15, Marine recruiters learned from Harris’s parents that their son took a powerful antidepressant called Luvox.
Five days later, Harris and his buddy Dylan Klebold staged their own private war at Columbine High School, killing 13 people before they finally killed themselves.
Todd Smith 1999
Todd Smith walked into as high school in Taber, Alberta, Canada in 1999 with a shotgun and killed one and injured a second student. He has been given a drug after a five-minute phone consultation with a psychiatrist.
Steven Abrams drove his car into a preschool playground in 1999 in Costa Mesa., Calif., killing two. He was on probation with a requirement to take Lithium.
According to court documents, he had been frequently victimized, including having being doused with lighter fluid and threatened to be set on fire when he was in grade one. He was later frequently assaulted, and by the time he was a teenager, he had become “reclusive and extremely fearful.” His mother said he had been showing signs of depression prior to the shooting. Smith was also living in poverty, as they hardly had any electricity.
A Document, in the form of a prescription, released to the Citizens Commission on Human Rights by the boys mother, just after the shooting, verified that the 14-year-old shooter had indeed been prescribed a speed-type drug called Dexedrine by an Alberta psychiatrist just prior to the time of the shooting.
During a 1999 conversation between the boys mother and a representative of CCHR, shortly after the shooting, she reported that after a 5 minute consultation with the Alberta psychiatrist regarding the her boys condition, he made a diagnosis and prescribed the drug Dexedrine. Soon after that Todd committed the act of senseless violence.
T.J. Solomon 2000
In 2000, T.J. Solomon, 15, opened fire at Heritage High School in Conyers, Ga., while on a mix of antidepressants. Six were wounded. Article below states he was on and off with Ritalin.
Garland said Solomon had been taking the prescription drug Ritalin “off and on” for an extended period of time.
(Garland is an attorney)
Seth Trickey 2000
The same year Seth Trickey of Gibson, Okla., 13, was on a variety of prescriptions when he opened fire on his middle-school class, injuring five.
The documents show Trickey also took numerous prescription medications and was under psychological counseling up to the time of the Dec. 6, 1999, shooting.
Three weeks before the shooting, Trickey had been injected with an overdose of the prescription poison ivy drug Kenalog, said Dr. William Banner, a toxicologist and medical director of the Oklahoma Poison Center.
Kenalog is a steroid alleged to have psychotic effects on some users, according to the three medical experts who testified at the hearing.
”Even in routine doses, these drugs can produce a psychotic break,” Banner said.
Trickey was also taking the prescription drug Inderal for severe migraine headaches and had been referred to a psychologist for stress management and biofeedback training.
Inderal is known to cause depression, Vinekar said, although that was never diagnosed in Trickey.
Elizabeth Bush 2001
Elizabeth Bush, 14, was on Prozac. She shot and wounded another student at Bishop Neumann High in Williamsport, Pa.
Elizabeth, who had transferred into the school a year earlier, told interviewer Connie Chung that she was deeply depressed and counseling and anti-depressants failed to help.
Elizabeth Bush was taking Paxil at the time of the shooting. Ann Tracy, Ph.D., Executive Director of the International Coalition for Drug Awareness, confirmed this Paxil use.
Connie Chung did an interview three years ago with Elizabeth Bush and her parents. The parents did say that Elizabeth was taking an “antidepressant” at the time of the incident.
Jason Hoffman 2001
Jason Hoffman, 18, in 2001 was on Effexor and Celexa, both antidepressants, when he wounded two teachers at California’s Granite Hills High School.
The student accused of wounding five people with a shotgun at Granite Hills High School had been seeing a psychiatrist before the shooting and had been prescribed two antidepressant medications, his attorney said yesterday.
Jason Hoffman, 18, had been diagnosed as clinically depressed and had been prescribed Celexa and Effexor, both of which treat the illness, Deputy Public Defender William Trainor said.
Cory Baadsgaard 2001
In Wahluke, Wash., Cory Baadsgaard, 16, took a rifle to his high schooland held 23 classmates hostage in 2001. He has been taking Paxil and Effexor.
JAY BAADSGAARD, CORY’S FATHER: I had no doubt that the medication did this. I mean, he was — had amnesia, you know, hallucinations earlier, abnormal dreams, which are all side effects of the medication.
KENNEDY (voice-over): That morning, Cory was on a mix of antidepressants prescribed for what doctors called situational depression. His father says the pills turned Cory from a sensitive teenage boy to a volatile marauder susceptible to blind rage.
His family physician prescribed Paxil, a popular antidepressant. But Baadsgaard, then 16, sunk deeper into depression. The doctor switched him to a different antidepressant, Effexor, and stepped up the dose over a three-week period from 40 milligrams to 300. The first morning Baadsgaard took 300 milligrams, he felt rotten and went back to bed.
Mamoru Takuma 2001
In Tokyo in 2001, Mamoru Takuma, 37, went into a second-grade classroom and started stabbing students. He killed eight. He had taken 10 times his normal dosage of an antidepressant.
Takuma dropped out of high school and was disowned by his father. He entered the Japan Air Self Defense Force but was soon discharged due to having sexual intercourse with a minor. In 1984, Takuma lived with his mother secretly. His father was very angry and took back his wife. In November 1984, he was arrested for raping a woman. He had been arrested at least eleven times before the massacre.
He moved to Ikeda and found work as a bus and garbage truck driver. He was described by coworkers as a quiet and unremarkable man, but a bit of a loner who did not like dealing with customers and preferred working alone. However, after assaulting a passenger over the smell of their perfume in 1998, he was fired and got a new job as maintenance man at Itami Elementary School, 6 kilometers away from Ikeda. In October of the same year, he was arrested on suspicion of assaulting his former wife.
On March 3, 1999, he dissolved some of his own tranquilizer, temazepam, into the tea served in the teachers’ room, sending 4 people to the hospital. He was arrested and packed off to a psychiatric hospital, where he was diagnosed with schizophrenia, but after one month’s treatment was judged to be “capable of taking care of himself” and released.
The assessment proved to be overly optimistic. Takuma was in and out of the hospital. In November 1999, he was arrested on suspicion of entering into a private home, but charges were dropped. He managed to get a job as a taxi driver in September 2000, but was fired on October 16th after he assaulted a hotel bellboy in Osaka and broke his nose. He was also kicked out of several apartments for, among other things, throwing his garbage out from the balcony. On May 23, 2001, he was again committed to the hospital, but he left after one day and did not return.
Peter Odighizuwa 2002
Dr. Jack Briggs, who has a private practice in town had treated the suspect in the past year for depression. It has been gathered Odighizuwa had a history of mental instability that the school was aware of.
Jeff Weise 2005
In 2005, 16-year-old Native American Jeff Weise on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in Minnesota was under the influence of the antidepressant Prozac when he shot and killed nine people and wounding five before committing suicide.
Weise expressed frustration with being forced back to the Red Lake region and was considered an outsider by many there. Troublesome behaviour eventually led the school to put him in a home schooling program in 2004. He was apparently taking medication for depression and was seeing a therapist. He attempted suicide in 2004.
Weise’s relatives “knew he had a problem with depression, and they took him to treatment,” Cook said. “He was getting counseling.” His medication dosage had been increased a week earlier, Cook added.
His grandmother, Shelda Lussier, 54, said he saw a mental-health professional at Red Lake Hospital on Feb. 21, the same day his prescription was refilled for 60 milligrams a day of Prozac, which he had been taking since last summer, The Washington Post reported.
Duane Morrison 2006
Duane Morrison, 53, shot and killed a girl at Platte Canyon High School in Colorado in 2006. Antidepressants later were found in his vehicle.
Antidepressant medication was recovered from Duane Morrison’s Jeep, but investigators are still working to put together the puzzle of the crime.
Steven Kazmierczak 2/14/2007
Killed 5 students and then himself at University of Illinois, DeKalb Campus. The AP reported that Kazmierczak’s parents had placed him in a Chicago psychiatric treatment center after high school. A former employee of the center said Kazmierczak habitually cut himself and wouldn’t take his medication, according to the AP. He also told a friend that he was given a psychological discharge from the Army after six months in the service in 2001-2002, according to the AP. People close to him have told police he was taking medication but had stopped and had become “somewhat erratic” in the last couple of weeks
Jessica Baty said Tuesday that her boyfriend of two years had been taking Xanax, used to treat anxiety, and Ambien, a sleep agent, as well as the antidepressant Prozac.
Baty said the psychiatrist prescribed the medications, a fact that made her so “nervous” that she tried to persuade Kazmierczak to stop taking one of the drugs.
She said he had stopped taking the antidepressant three weeks before the Valentine’s Day rampage on the NIU campus in DeKalb, Illinois, which left five students dead and 16 wounded. He then killed himself.
CNN has an exclusive interview with the ex-girlfriend/roommate of the NIU shoot
Here’s her view of the shooter:
“‘He wasn’t erratic. He wasn’t delusional. He was Steve; he was normal,’ Jessica Baty tearfully said in an exclusive interview Sunday.
“Baty, 28, dated Steven Kazmierczak off and on for two years and had most recently been living with him.
“‘He was a worrier,’ she said. He once told her he had ‘obsessive-compulsive tendencies’ and that his parents committed him as a teen to a group home because he was ‘unruly’ and used to cut himself.
“He had been seeing a psychiatrist, Baty said, and was taking an anti-depressant to treat depression. But Kazmierczak had stopped taking the medication three weeks ago, ‘because it made him feel like a zombie,’ she said.
“‘He wasn’t acting erratic,’ she said. ‘He was just a little quicker to get annoyed….’”
“‘The person I knew was not the one who went into Cole Hall and did that,’ said Baty. ‘He was anything but a monster. He was probably the … nicest, [most]caring person ever.’”
Timothy Johnson 2008
Little Rock, Arkansas – Less than 48 hours after Timothy Johnson shot and killed Arkansas Democratic Party Chairman Bill Gwatney, the Little Rock Police declared they were investigating shooter’s use of the antidepressant Effexor, which was found in Johnson’s house. A Little Rock city police report later stated that Johnson “was on an anti-depressant and that the drug may have played a part in his ‘irrational and violent behavior.”
Jason Montes 2009
Concord, California –: Jason Montes, 33, shot and killed his wife and then himself at home. Montes had earlier begun taking the antidepressant Prozac for depression related to his impending divorce and a recent bankruptcy.
Christopher Wood 2009
Middletown, Maryland –: Christopher Wood shot and killed his wife, three small children and himself inside their home. Toxicology test results verified that Wood had been taking the antidepressants Cymbalta and Paxil and the anti-anxiety drugs BuSpar and Xanax.
Fred B. Davis 2009
Cranberry Crossing, Alabama –53-year-old Fred B. Davis shot and killed a police officer and wounded a sheriff’s deputy who had responded to a call that Davis had threatened a neighbor with a gun. Prescription drug bottles found at the scene showed that Davis was prescribed the antipsychotic drug Geodon.
Troy Bellar 2009
Lakeland, Florida –Toxicology test results showed that 34-year-old Troy Bellar was on Tegretol, a drug prescribed for “bi-polar disorder,” when he shot and killed his wife and two of his three children in their home before killing himself.
Scott DeKraai 2011
Seal Beach, California- Scott DeKraai, a harbor tugboat worker, entered the hair salon where his ex-wife worked, killing her and seven others and injuring one. At DeKraai’s initial hearing, his attorney indicated to the judge that DeKraai was prescribed the antidepressant Trazodone and the “mood stabilizer” Topamax.
John Shick, 2012
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – 30-year-old John Shick, former patient of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and former student at nearby Duquesne University, shot and killed one and injured six inside UPMC’s Western Psychiatrist Institute. Nine antidepressants were identified among the drugs police found in Shick’s apartment.
And just a few among the dozens of incidents cited, but not apparently related to schools:
William Cruse in 1987 was charged with killing six people in Palm Bay, Fla., after taking psychiatric drugs for “several years.”
The same year, Bartley James Dobben killed his two young sons by throwing them into a 1,300-degree foundry ladle. He been on a “regimen” of psychiatric drugs.
Joseph T. WesBecker, 47, just a month after he began taking Prozac, shot 20 workers at Standard Gravure Corp. in Louisville, Ky., killing nine. Eli Lilly, which makes Prozac, later settled a lawsuit brought by survivors.
In 1991, 61-year-old Barbara Mortenson, on Prozac for two weeks, “cannibalized her 87-year-old mother …”
In 1992, Lynnwood Drake III, shot and killed six in San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay. Prozac and Valium were found in his system.
Sixteen-year-old Victor Brancaccio attacked and killed an 81-year-old woman, covered her corpse with red spray-paint. He was two months into a Zoloft regimen.
While on four medications including Prozac, Dr. Debora Green in 1995 set her Prairie Village, Mo., home on fire, killing her children, ages 6 and 13.
Kurt Danysh, 18, shot and killed his father in 1996, 17 days after his first dose of Prozac. “I didn’t realize I did it until after it was done. … This might sound weird, but it felt like I had no control of what I was doing, like I was left there just holding a gun.”
In 1998, GlaxoSmithKline, maker of Paxil, was ordered to pay $6.4 million to surviving family members after Donald Schnell, 60, just 48 hours after taking Paxil, flew into a rage and killed his wife, daughter and granddaughter.