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Criminologist: Hard to Determine if Suspected Marshall Co. Shooter Fits Mass Murderer Profile

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A criminologist in Kentucky says it’s hard to know if the suspected teen shooter at Marshall County High School fits the profile of a typical mass murderer.

Days after the Marshall County High School shooting that took two lives and injured 18 others, the identity of the suspected shooter remains unknown. A 15-year-old male student is facing murder and assault charges. Without knowing more about the gunman, it’s hard to know his motivation for the attack. Dr. Dan Phillips teaches sociology and criminal justice at Campbellsville University.

"Being young like 15-25, being male. That's the profile of a lot of people who do violence throughout our country,” said Phillips. “Do I think there's a way you could go into a school and pick out a person who might do this? Probably not.”

Absent of mental illness, Professor Phillips said a combination of factors can motivate school shooters, including anger, bullying, or abuse at home. Phillips said while news coverage can encourage copycat shooters, the media also prompts more discussion and actions to increase school safety.

"It certainly can drive home the point to schools and parents that this is serious, that we need to spend serious time doing drills at school, putting in security at school. The media can encourage people to take this matter seriously and take appropriate precautions,” said Phillips.

The New York Times reports there have been 11 school shootings in the U.S. so far this year. Not all of those incidents resulted in fatalities.

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.
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