Newman offers insight on rampage killers in PBS special

Shooter's mindset is 'better to be infamous than invisible,' she says

Katherine Newman, dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins and author of a book about rampage school shootings, was among the experts featured in a PBS report titled "Mind of Rampage Killer," part of the network's extensive post-Newtown coverage this week.

A 10-minute segment from the report aired on PBS's "Newshour" last night, profiling Andy Williams, who killed two students and injured 13 in a school shooting in California when he was 15 years old. It mentions more recent shootings in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., while focusing on the search for common threads, both biological and sociological.

Newman spent two years studying similar shootings that occurred in the late 1990s and co-authored Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings, which was published in 2004. Her work suggests that a shared trait among the shooters is a failure to fit in with any group, to be noticed, despite repeated attempts.

The gunman sees the shooting, Newman says, as a way to "change this terrible social reputation," even if it means he must plays the role of antihero.

"The antihero is a respected character, respected through fear," she told PBS. "And that feels a lot better to them than dismissed, belittled, insignificant. Better to be infamous than invisible."

Watch The Mind of a Rampage Killer on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

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