Columbine and the Connecticut Shooter: Mad at the World

08/24/2010 04:20 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Jeff Kass Author of "Columbine: A True Crime Story"

Amidst the rampage that found him firing on colleagues Connecticut shooter Omar Thornton called his mother. "I just killed the five most racist people," he said.

Yet Thornton, who eventually killed himself, first shot and killed eight people. Two others were injured.

So why did Thornton, a black 34-year-old truck driver who worked for a beer distribution company, shoot and kill more than the five "racists" he claimed to be tracking? And why did he say he wanted to kill more?

Because this shooting wasn't necessarily about racism. Just like the Columbine shootings were not necessarily about killing jocks, despite that widespread idea.

Thornton, and Columbine killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold , all placed some of the blame on others - society, "the system," etc. - for their problems. Thornton articulated it as "racists," but what he seemed to mean is that anyone - and everyone - who didn't agree with him was a racist. And if that didn't mean the whole world, it at least meant his most of his immediate world.

It has been reported that Thornton did not file any claims of racism and no evidence of that has been found, although his mother said he did file such claims, according to CNN. Thornton's employer, Hartford Distributors, says the shooting occurred as he was being disciplined for stealing beer.

In the Columbine shootings, much has been debated about whether the killers targeted jocks. They did not, but at the same time, they wrote about hating jocks and screamed for them during the shootings. What gives? The Columbine killers hated everyone - as their writings will attest. And again, they often blamed others for their lowly status and problems. (Although they did take themselves to task too.)

Simply put, at the high school level, the jocks were at the top of the hierarchy that the Columbine killers felt had oppressed them and put them on the bottom rung of the social ladder. Harris and Klebold hated everyone, but the jocks were the most immediate, potent symbols of that.