What Were They Thinking?

Certainly the media draw attention to the gunmen and to some extent encourage copycats, experts said. The media can make shootings seem like "business as usual," Newman noted, and extensive news coverage may explain why shootings "tend to come in clusters," added Hill Walker, co-director of the Institution on Violence and Destructive Behavior at the University of Oregon. But if the media didn't alert its audiences to mass shootings, the public wouldn't know how to look for and interpret the warning signs of a potential shooter, Newman said.

"It's just better if everyone is informed," Stephens said.

The Worst Incident of School Violence

Columbine? Virginia Tech? It was actually a 1958 fire that burned down Our Lady of Angels, a Catholic school in Chicago, and killed 92 students. One or possibly two fourth graders set the fire. The nuns told the students to pray rather than escape, Dorn said.

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