If Holmes is “living inside the Batman movie the way Hinckley was living inside ‘Taxi Driver,’ ” Roth said, “this makes perfect sense to him even though it makes no sense to us.”
Some researchers have questioned whether violent video games play a role in mass murders, but there is no evidence for such a link, said Christopher Ferguson, a forensic psychologist at Texas A&M International University.
Mass homicide is not a new phenomenon in this country. Criminologists speak often of Howard Unruh’s rampage through the streets of Camden, N.J., in 1949 and Charles Whitman’s sniping from a tower at the University of Texas in 1966.
Mass killers are known to copy their predecessors, according to Fox. The Aurora massacre, for example, has elements in common with the pseudo-commando attack last summer in Norway.
Anders Behring Breivik first detonated a fertilizer bomb in Oslo — emulating American terrorist Timothy McVeigh’s 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City — killing eight people. Breivik then went to an island full of young campers and, one by one, shot and killed 69 of them.
Law enforcement authorities say Holmes crafted a similarly elaborate scheme. First, authorities say, he booby-trapped his apartment with explosives. Then, they say, he used a timer to blare music starting Thursday night at midnight, just as the Batman movie was starting. That could have been an attempt to lure someone into the apartment and trigger an explosion — a diversion that would occupy police before the attack on the theater.
Even with the lower homicide rate in the United States, Americans are slain at a much higher rate than citizens in other developed nations. The U.S. homicide rate of roughly five per 100,000 people is about three times that of Canada, about four times that of Australia, nearly five times Britain’s rate and about 12 times the rate in Japan. The U.S. rate is also roughly five times that of China.
Mass murder does occur in these other countries, and it sometimes takes a bizarre form. In China, there has been a rash of killing sprees in recent years in which knife-wielding men attacked schoolchildren.
But advocates for tighter gun laws say the lethality of American violence is increased by easy access to weapons of a type originally designed for military use.