Current News from The Looking Glass:

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Moon Over Alabama

As the Full Worm Moon hung above us...

SAMSON, ALABAMA(CNN) -- An Alabama man went on a shooting rampage Tuesday, killing 10 people -- family members and apparent strangers -- before turning the gun on himself, officials said.

By the time Michael McLendon ended his rampage, he had fatally shot his mother and set fire to her house, killed his grandparents, his aunt and uncle, the wife and child of a sheriff's deputy, and three other people, according to the coroners of the two counties where the shootings occurred.

"He was shooting at just ordinary people going about their business," said Alabama state Sen. Harri Anne Smith.

Smith represents Geneva County, where all but one of the victims were killed. Smith said she had been briefed about the incident by state and local law enforcement.

By early Wednesday, authorities were still trying to piece together the chronology of events and the motive for McLendon's actions.

Though they have identified all the victims, they withheld releasing their names until they could notify family members.

The shooting started about 4 p.m. at a house that McLendon shared with his mother, Lisa, in the town of Kinston, near the Florida border in Coffee County.

A passerby found the house on fire and alerted authorities. Inside, firefighters found the bodies of Lisa McLendon and four dogs, said county Coroner Robert Preachers.

The mother had been shot, he said.

The gunman then went east into Geneva County. There, he shot his grandfather, grandmother, uncle and aunt as they sat on a porch in the nearby town of Samson, said Geneva Coroner Max Motley.

The wife of a sheriff's deputy who lived in a house across the street was also killed, along with her toddler, Motley said. Both were shot.

A second child was airlifted to a hospital in Florida in critical condition, authorities said.

"I can't describe what happened, why it happened," Geneva County Sheriff Greg Ward told CNN affiliate WTVY. "It's just a sad day for Geneva County."

McLendon, armed with a semiautomatic weapon, allegedly also fatally shot a man who lived in a mobile home in his family members' yard, Motley said.

At some point, the gunman headed down state Highway 52, firing at least seven bullets into a state trooper's car. The trooper suffered minor injuries from shattered glass.

The final two victims were a woman killed at a Big-Little Store service station off the highway and a man outside the Samson Pipe and Supply store. Both victims were apparently shot at random, authorities said.

The gunman ended up at the Reliable Metal Products plant in Geneva, where police rammed his vehicle, forcing him to get out. He fired a 30-round burst with what appeared to be an M16 rifle, grazing Police Chief Frankie Lindsey with a bullet.

"Then the subject entered the business. Within minutes, shots were heard. ... Law enforcement officers found him dead," state police Cpl. Steve Jarrett said.

The manufacturing plant is 12 miles from his mother's house.

Sheriff's officials say the gunman was a former employee of Reliable Metal, CNN affiliate WEAR-TV reported.

Col. Christopher Murphy, head of the Alabama Department of Public Safety, called the southern Alabama rampage "the worst that DPS has a memory of."

Another mass killing occurred in southern Alabama in 2002, when Westley Devon Harris gunned down six members of his 16-year-old girlfriend's family at their farm in Luverne. Harris was convicted and sentenced to death in 2005.

BERLIN, Germany (CNN) -- Fifteen people died Wednesday in the shooting spree in the German town of Winnenden, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) northeast of Stuttgart, police spokeswoman Renate Roesch told CNN.

At least five people were injured. The gunman is dead, she said.

The shooting, which lasted about two minutes, happened at the Albertville-Realschule Winnenden school, a junior high school, about 9:30 a.m. About 1,000 students attend the school.

Police said the gunman was a 17-year-old former student dressed in military gear.

Authorities had sealed the town off and launched an intense manhunt for the man they described as 1.80m (5'11") and heavily armed.

"It is a small town, an idyllic town," said Frank Nipkau, the editor in chief of local Winnenden Zeitung newspaper. "The town people are devastated and they can't understand why this is happening in this town."

"Police are coming through the whole time. They're obviously looking all over town for him," said Roberto Seifert, who works at a company next to the school. "We've never had anything like this," he told by phone. Video CNN's Charles Hodson looks at Twitter reports »

Security at German schools has been an issue in the past. In November 2006, an 18-year-old former student strapped explosives to his body and went on a rampage at a middle school in western Germany, shooting and wounding six people -- most of them students -- before killing himself. Do you think the gun control issue is taken seriously enough? [QUESTION embedded by CNN]

In July 2003, a 16-year-old student shot a teacher before taking his own life at a school in the southern German town of Coburg.

A year earlier, 18 people were killed when an expelled student went on a shooting spree at his school in eastern Germany.

Another European country, Finland, is planning to toughen firearms laws after two school shootings there left 20 people dead. Those incidents occurred in November 2007 and September 2008.

Finnish news reports on Wednesday said an Interior Ministry working group has issued a proposal calling for age 20 as the minimum age for handgun ownership and 18 as the minimum for rifles. The proposal will be circulated among legislators.

"Under the proposal, a firearm license applicant would be required to provide a certificate from a shooting club instructor to certify that the applicant has practiced shooting at a gun club for two years prior to applying for a permit.

"The ministry also wants applicants' health and behavior to come under closer scrutiny and has suggested adopting aptitude tests used by the Defense Forces," according to

Marilyn Manson performs Bertolt Brecht & Kurt Weil's "Moon Over Alabama" live in Berlin


Ben Fairhall said...

These double events would seem to confirm that sense we had about a week ago, of something about to break in the Group Mind (and/or synchrosphere.)

FilmNoir23 said...

It very well could...It certainly felt like we were teetering on the edge there for a while, didn't it?