Saturday, September 24, 2016

Gunman kills five people at a mall in Burlington Washington and somehow manages to escape.

A picture from a surveillance video showing the suspected gunman. Police Handout/AP

A gunman killed five people at the Cascade Mall in Burlington, Washington and somehow managed to escape. AP. Four women and one man were killed in the Macy's store at the mall. The suspect was described as "Hispanic" and was scene carrying a "hunting rifle". No motive has been released for the attack and police do not know if more attacks are planned, though they have no evidence that one is. Police searched the mall but found no sign of the killer. 

My Comment:
There is very little information about this case and I don't know if I trust some of the information that the police have released. Most importantly, I don't know if the suspect is Hispanic or not. The picture of the suspect, seen above, is extremely blurry. Though he certainly looks like he could be Hispanic, he could also be white, Arab or even Asian. Police almost certainly have more information then I have, but if you had to ask me what race/ethnicity that guy is, I would just shrug and say I have no idea. 

It is also extraordinary that the suspect managed to escape the scene of the crime. That almost never happens. Police response time is pretty good so very few shooters are able to kill and escape. Very few even try, with most mass shooters either kill themselves when the cops show up or go down fighting them. I am hoping that this isn't the new strategy for mass shooters because if it is, it's a terrifying new tactic. 

Which makes me wonder if this wasn't a ISIS or al-Qaeda inspired terror attack. Yes, the police said he was Hispanic, but he could be an Arab and there have been Islamic converts of every race that have carried out terror attacks. It wouldn't be unprecedented if this was a Hispanic Muslim, as odd as that sounds.  

What's the circumstantial evidence, and this is speculation, of this being a terror attack? The only cases I can remember off the top of my head where mass shooters fled the scene of the crime were committed by ISIS. Both the Charlie Hebdo and Chattanooga attacks involved attackers leaving the area to plan new attacks. I believe some of the Paris attackers did the same thing. Fleeing the scene of the crime so you can attack more people seems like the hallmark of a terrorist organization. It's weak evidence, but evidence nonetheless. 

That being said, there is evidence the other way as well. I have heard reports that the suspect said one of the victims names before opening fire. I don't know if that is true or not, but if it is it makes the terror attack angle a lot less believable. It could be an Elliot Rodgers style attack where the suspect is mad about women in general or one woman in particular. The fact that he killed 4 woman and only one man points in that direction as well. Perhaps he killed his real target and shot the rest to cover up who he really wanted to kill, to further his goal of escape? If so it worked, since it will take cops time to dig into the background of the victims. 

But that brings me around to the Islamic terrorist angle again. The attack occurred at a makeup counter, so that could have something to do with it. I don't exactly know the standard for Muslims when it comes to makeup. It may be forbidden or allowed, but I am guessing either way that they would take a dim view on the people selling it. 

Still, all of this is speculation because there is so very little real information out there right now. One of the only real clues is the weapon used. From the photograph above it's clear that the gunman used a rifle with a wooden stock. It's too blurry to make it out for sure, but it looks like either a Mini-14 or some kind of .22. It seems like the barrel is too short to be a full size hunting rifle, or an old style battle rifle like an M-1 or Lee Enfeild. It's possible that it was and the barrel was cut down, but that seems unlikely. 

Either way, the choice of weapon is unusual. It's clear he was effective with it, even if it was a bolt action rifle, but most mass shooters either go for handguns or the tactical scary black rifles. Of course, if it was a Mini-14 or an old battle rifle like the M-1, it wouldn't be all that different from a tactical weapon anyways, except when it comes to cosmetic differences. My guess is that the suspect only had that weapon on hand so he used it. My guess is that he wanted a handgun or a tactical rifle but couldn't get a hold of one, so he went with this rifle instead. 

The attack does go to show that mass killings will happen even if a total ban of handguns or scary black rifles happened though. Hell, I am wondering if the death toll from this attack wasn't worse then it would normally be if the attacker had chosen a smaller caliber handgun. He shot five people and all five of them died, so he was either very skilled with his weapon, incredibly lucky or was using something a bit more deadly then your average 9mm. 

Finally, though it is way too early in the investigation, I worry that this guy will get away with this. Though I haven't ever heard of a high profile mass shooting where the attacker got away scott-free, it has to happen at some point right? It looks like the cops have very little to go on here and I hope they are holding back a lot of evidence that will point them in the right direction. The idea of a mass shooter getting away with his crime is almost unfathomable, so I am hoping that this guy gets caught and caught soon. Hopefully before he does anything else... 

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