A gunman walked through a popular neighborhood shopping area Sunday night and began shooting up the place. He killed two people before killing himself. It wasn’t his original plan.
He had been documenting his original plan for months and posting it to Wattpad, an open forum site that bills itself as the “place where stories live.”
The gunman made it clear in his writing that he wanted to kill as many people as possible before killing himself. His plan was to attack a local high school, up the street from the local shopping area he attacked last night. He identified the date of his planned attack as September 8th. He was writing about it as early as the 1st of July. Writing about his desire to kill others. He said he idolized the Columbine killers. He called the Parkland shooter stupid for not taking his own life.
He bought a shotgun and then sawed it off. Posted a photo of himself with it. The AR15 cost double the shotgun, so that took him a few paychecks to pay for, but his delight over the AR15 once it arrived bordered on euphoria: “I’m predicting at least 20 dead but I might just kill up to 40+.”
A Gunman’s delusions of grandeur?
“I’m Evil. Plain and Simple,” he wrote. “That is literally the only answer here. My Head doesn’t work right, it never really has. I just don’t fit in with this world.”
He wasn’t afraid of posting his plan, his manifesto if you will, before God and everyone in plenty of time for someone to have alerted the police, in plenty of time for a background check to have found it. He used his real name. Ethan Miller. Others had apparently read his postings. Did any of them alert Bend police?
It’s a discombobulating thing to be thankful a gunmen didn’t carry out his plan to be a school shooter. Instead, an hour before heading over the neighborhood shopping area and opening fire, he wrote another post: “Well this is it. Today’s the day I die. It’s nerve-wracking as Hell. But also peaceful in a way. Knowing that after my massacre I’ll be gone. Truly at peace.”
He believed he was going to meet some woman in his afterlife, a forever love. A love he could not obtain in this life, no matter how hard he tried.
He was right about one thing – his brain didn’t work right. Nowhere in any of his writings does he ever say that he called a suicide help line or sought any sort of intervention for his mental condition. I suspect he knew if he had done that he might not be able to purchase the guns he so badly needed to carry out his plan.
But I can’t help who is the mentally ill people here: The shooter or those of us who continually vote in gun rights advocates who argue that America’s fascination with violence is the result of gaming and not the result of access to guns.
If it isn’t a gun access problem why is it every other nation that has had a mass shooter, who then instituted strict gun laws, who then took AR15 and other military-style assault weapons out of the hands of the public, have not had any more mass shootings? Did they fix all their mentally ill before taking away the guns? Or do they still have mentally ill people who just can’t obtain guns to carry our their delusions?
We know the right thing is better gun control, we just continually refuse to do the right thing.
Ethan didn’t make national headlines. He didn’t achieve any state of glory. He only killed two people before killing himself.
But those two people? Their lives mattered. Their loved ones are grieving today, as they will everyday moving forward.
And as I type this, I know there are others out there, planning the next massacre.
Yet, we continue to be the country willing to arm people who know, as Ethan knew, that they are evil. That their brains don’t work right. People who hunger for doing harm to other unsuspecting innocent people. Like Parkland. Like Uvalde. Like Bend.
I want to live in the country that bans assault weapons, not books.
Register. Show Up. Vote accordingly.
Karen Spears Zacharias is author of The Murder Gene: A True Crime Story.
He told us who he was and what he planned to do. Still, we put the guns in his hands to carry out his plan. Who are the crazy ones?