Boulder, Atlanta mass killings were among 7 so far this year. Here are the others you might have missed.
The Boulder shooting rampage that left 10 people dead this week was the nation’s seventh mass killing this year and came six days after the last one, the fatal shooting of eight at Georgia massage spas.
A sobering database compiled by USA TODAY, the Associated Press and Northeastern University in Boston tracks mass killings – defined as four or more dead, not including the killer. Two of the tragedies took place in Indianapolis, one apparently was not a shooting.
There were 23 mass killings in 2020, down from 45 in 2019, according to the database. James Alan Fox, the Lipman Family Professor of Criminology, Law & Public Policy at Northeastern University, said one reason for the decline might be that mass killers are often motivated by a feeling of being unfairly treated by society.
“During the pandemic, it’s hard to think they were the only one suffering,” he said.
The fact that fewer gatherings are taking place during the pandemic is likely another factor for the decrease, he said.
Boulder and Atlanta drew global headlines in recent days. Here’s a look at the other five mass killings in 2021, which got far less attention but destroyed families and left communities stunned and in mourning.
March 13, Indiana: 4 killed
The Indianapolis man accused of killing three adults and a 7-year-old girl on March 13 told police he began shooting everyone inside a home after an argument over a stimulus check, court records show. Malik Halfacre, 25, was taken into custody a day after police say he shot and killed Anthony Johnson, 35; Dequan Moore, 23; Eve Moore, 7; and Tomeeka Brown, 44.
A survivor of the shooting – who family said shared a daughter with Halfacre – was shot in the back during the incident and directed police to the residence.
Feb. 2, Oklahoma: 6 killed
On Feb. 2, five children were among six people killed at a home in Muskogee, Oklahoma, authorities said. Suspect Jarron Deajon Pridgeon, 25, lived at the home and was taken into custody, Muskogee Police Officer Lynn Hamlin said.
No motive for the attack has been revealed.
Officers responded to a call at about 1:30 a.m. of a multiple shooting at the home, Hamlin said. The officers encountered a person with a gun, and one officer fired one shot that missed the armed person as he ran from the scene, police said.
Pridgeon was later arrested after a short foot pursuit. Hamlin said Pridgeon lived in the home and was not cooperating with investigators. He was jailed awaiting a preliminary hearing June 4.
Jan. 24, Indiana: 6 killed
Raymond Ronald Lee Childs III was charged with six counts of murder and related offenses in the Jan. 24 fatally shootings of his family in Indianapolis. The victims included his parents, Kezzie and Raymond Childs, both 42, Elijah Childs,18, Rita Childs, 13 – both siblings of the suspect – as well as Kiara Hawkins, 19, and her unborn child. Authorities said Elijah Childs and Hawkins were “in a relationship.”
At just 17, the accused killer cannot face the death penalty but could face life in prison if found guilty. A 15-year-old brother was shot and left for dead but became the sole survivor of the massacre. He said his father’s last words to the son accused of killing him were “I love you.”
Jan. 24, New Mexico: 4 killed
The manhunt for a person of interest in a quadruple homicide in New Mexico ended March 10 in Missouri with the arrest of a man also wanted in a New Jersey killing. The decomposed bodies of suspect Sean Lannon’s ex-wife and three other people were found in a vehicle in a parking garage at Albuquerque International Sunport on March 5. They were last seen alive Jan. 24.
The victims were identified as Jennifer Lannon, 39; Matthew Miller, 21; Jesten Mata, 40; and Randal Apostalon, 60. Authorities did not release a cause of death. Lannon, 47, was taken into custody in St. Louis on March 10.
Lannon is also accused of killing a man in East Greenwich, New Jersey. Lannon is accused of breaking into the home of Michael Dabkowski, 66, and beating him to death with a hammer, according to an affidavit.
Prosecutors said Lannon told relatives he killed the four and “11 other individuals.” Investigators are looking into the claim, but thus far Lannon has been charged only with the death in New Jersey.
Jan. 9, Illinois: 5 killed
A man killed five people and wounded at least two others in a series of shootings Jan. 9 that started on Chicago’s South Side and ended with the suspect’s death in a shootout with police.
The victims included Damia Smith, 15, Aisha Nevvell, 46, Anthony Faulkner, 20, Yiran Fan, 30, and Marta Torres, 61. Suspect Jason Nightengale, 32, had posted dozens of videos online in the days leading up to the shootings, flashing guns and ranting about Satan. Chicago police Superintendent David Brown said officers had scrambled to track Nightengale down as the tragedy dragged out over four tense hours.
“When you hear this whole story, it seems that you have a crystal ball of what he’s doing next, and we all know we don’t have a crystal ball,” Brown said. “We are responding to the scene as these crimes are happening, getting information, and again, he’s going to the next while we are trying to keep up with what’s happened previously.”
Contributing: Ryan Miller, USA TODAY; Justin L. Mack and Lawrence Andrea, Indianapolis Star; The Associated Press