Tags: economy | mass | murders

Experts: Economy May Be Factor In Killing Sprees

Wednesday, 08 Apr 2009 02:38 PM

By Dan Weil

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Experts say the worst economic conditions in 70 years may be responsible for the recent spate of mass murders.

Recall that the gunman who slaughtered 13 people in a Binghamton, NY immigration center last week was a Vietnamese immigrant himself, distraught about recently losing his job.

In the last month, at least eight killing sprees have resulted in the deaths of 57 people. Experts say anxiety caused by the vicious recession has played a role.

The most recent occurred Wednesday when a 70-year-old gunman opened fire at a Korean Christian retreat center, leaving one woman dead and four people injured, authorities said.

Discussing those whom the economy has left behind, criminologist James Alan Fox tells The Washington Post: “The American dream to them is a nightmare, and the land of opportunity is but a cruel joke.”

The Northeastern University professor says, “The economic pie is shrinking to the point where it looks more like a Pop Tart, and some feel all they're getting is the crumbs. There's a combination of feeling despair and hopelessness at the same time as a certain degree of anger and blame.”

To be sure, not everyone sees the economy behind murders. “Because homicides are fairly rare, it is hard to see patterns even when ones exist,” Shawn Bushway, a criminologist at the University of Albany, tells The Post.

“It's like reading tea leaves. I don't make much of it. I don't think you can say anything definitively one way or another.”

Still, evidence abounds that the recession has sparked crime. Of 233 police agencies surveyed by the Police Executive Research Forum earlier this year, 44 percent reported a rise in some crime categories thanks to the economic and financial meltdown.

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