22 April 2008

Teen To Face WMD Charge In School-Bombing Plan

The 18-year-old who planned to bomb his high school is facing a possible life sentence after being charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and two other charges.

Authorities have said Schallenberger could have assembled deadly bombs within minutes with the materials they found. Police said they also discovered bombing plans including a hand-drawn map of the school, a hate-filled journal lauding the Columbine killers and an audiotape that authorities say was to have been played after Schallenberger died.

Schallenberger has been charged by the state with making a bomb threat, and county prosecutor Jay Hodge planned Tuesday to charge him with possession of bomb-making materials.

This was a straight-A student who police say was just "mad at the world".  What were his parents worried most about?

Schallenberger's mother and stepfather, Laurie and John Sittley, are "heartbroken," according to Sheriff Sam Parker.

"They were very concerned about his future education. I kind of explained to them and told them we've got to deal with two options here, we've got to deal with his education or with his life," Parker told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Tuesday.

Oookay fine.  I'm sure we'll hear loads more about how troubled this young man was and how much potential he has/had.  Too bad.  If he's found guilty, put him away for life.  It's not going to deter the next suicidal punk who is "just mad at the world", but it will stop this one from ever killing someone.

"But... he must be mentally ill!!!" is going to come soon, just watch.  There's almost no chance of it being true, but his family, his attorneys, and the liberal apologists will try to make the claim.  It won't be the "Twinkie Defense", but it'll be something close.  You can bank on it.

Watching him as he was arraigned, reading the news reports of how he prepared, and having worked with real mental illness, let me say this... I would bet a good bit of money that 999 out of a 1000 competent psychiatrists (and not employed by the Defense Attorney or the Prosecutor) would diagnose him with a Personality Disorder, not a mental illness.  He's too composed (demeanor in court, nobody suspected anything until he ordered ammonium nitrate), too organized (detailed planning and diary), and too goal-oriented (straight-A's and suicide-tape) for me to believe there is any psychotic or depressive process involved.

 (Disclaimer:  I am not a psychiatrist and am not making a psychiatric diagnosis.  I'm just a Psychiatric Nurse who has worked in many different settings over the past 16 years.)

Posted by: Stashiu3 at 23:18:09 | Comments (11) | Add Comment
Post contains 437 words, total size 4 kb.

1

I think most of us civilians would consider a personality disorder a kind of mental disorder -- or something more like a mental birth defect. It's only for the purposes of being able to lock someone away for life that I can approve calling it something else.

The coverage of Columbine (and every school shooting thereafter) was appalling. If we keep making rock stars out of these toe-rags, we're going to get a LOT more of them.

Posted by: S. Weasel at 23 April 2008@06:12:10 (rasT+)

2 Personality disorders are descriptive terms for what people would also call spoiled brats, assholes, abusers, drama queens, criminals, sociopaths, bullies, divas, etc... a maladaptive pattern of behavior that is under their control but they choose to use because it has always worked for them before.  They know it's wrong when they see it in others, but many times don't think it's wrong for them because someone else "makes them do it".  It's very difficult to treat because it develops over a long period of time and the behavior patterns are firmly set.

Posted by: Stashiu3 at 23 April 2008@07:28:16 (Q5ggV)

3

I would argue that if it were fully under their control, they would control it. The adults, anyhow. I wouldn't at all be surprised if better brain scanning ultimately leads us to find that criminality has to do with a visible, measurable lack of that which governs impulse control.

At first blush, this looks pro-criminal -- poor babies, they can't help it. But it's the opposite: if they are physically incapable of learning to conform and we have no mechanisms to change that, we are obliged for the good of society to lock them up (at least) and throw away the key.

Even thornier -- if we know what criminality looks like before it happens, how temped are we going to be to punish people who haven't actually done anything yet?

The libertarian in me shrivels up like a spider on a hotplate over that one.

Posted by: S. Weasel at 23 April 2008@09:52:55 (rasT+)

4 You speak of temptation so you believe in free will, yes?  You have the choice to give in to temptation or resist it.  Same for these people.  They have the choice to behave appropriately and choose not to in order to achieve a desired end, no matter the cost.

Personality disorders are characterized by patterns of choices, whether they adapt to the situation or not.  If someone threatens my child and I get aggressive, or even violent, that can be an appropriate response.  If someone fails to hold an elevator when I am running for it and I decide to run up the stairs, catch them, and start assaulting them... usually not appropriate.  If every time I wanted something I choose to become violent in an attempt to get what I wanted, that would frequently fail and have negative consequences... a maladaptive pattern of behavior.  Not a mental illness.

Posted by: Stashiu3 at 23 April 2008@14:34:40 (Q5ggV)

5

I'm not a free will absolutist; I don't think everyone finds it equally easy to make good choices. It doesn't make sense to me that talent or intelligence might vary, but everyone is temperamentally identical. A man with a bad temper and a good character can learn, by force of will, to control himself, but he'll still be a man with a bad temper. He will always be at a disadvantage in this regard to the man who is naturally phlegmatic (however much the latter may congratulate himself on the excellent choices he makes).

I'm largely a materialist: I think the differences between people lie in brains or hormones or other organic and measurable physical differences. Whether a brain configuration that makes impulse control more difficult is an "illness" or not is...a different conversation.

Posted by: S. Weasel at 24 April 2008@07:57:48 (rasT+)

6

10 pounds of ammonium nitrate is considered a “weapon of mass destruction”?

Posted by: JBHood at 24 April 2008@11:06:55 (UFNnW)

7 JBHood,  If I recall correctly that could have the explosive force of 12 pounds of TNT if mixed and sensitized properly. Some Park service people would use it if they had to hike back in to blow up a stump or log that was blocking a stream or posing a hazard. Getting it involved much less red tape than dynamite and they could carry the fertilizer and sensitizer in separate packs to mix on site. Safer than dynamite if someone fell off the trail.

Posted by: Machinist at 24 April 2008@13:44:37 (yFIK0)

8

Hey Mac-agreed-ammonium nitrate, ten pounds of the stuff properly processed, could make a decent little bomb. But, a gallon of gasoline weighing a few pounds less could also do a lot of damage-is gasoline now a WMD too? This kid appears to have some problems, but I have to wonder at the state lobbing out this WMD charge absent any radioactive or biological components or substantial amounts of explosives; it trivializes the whole idea of WMD.

Posted by: JBHood at 24 April 2008@17:05:17 (GkYyh)

9 JBHood,  Good point, Sir. I suppose the idea is the indiscriminate destruction possible by several large bombs but that does not really fit the idea of a WMD. I did not properly consider that aspect and I should have. I do not like the dilution off words. If this is considered a WMD then they will be claiming any explosive ordinance used by our troops classes as WMDs. I'm reminded also of the poor security guard in Atlanta. They said he had "bomb making materials" in his garage. That turned out to be duct tape and nails. That makes a LOT of bomb factories in this country.

Posted by: Machinist at 24 April 2008@18:35:45 (yFIK0)

10 "of" words. *sigh*

Posted by: Machinist at 24 April 2008@18:40:13 (yFIK0)

11

And when you have more than one or two guns, it becomes an armory or an arsenal. A thousand rounds of ammunition? And if you do your own reloading, you are bound to have the makings for several WMDs.

Words have meaning; it makes me nervous when the state starts trying to make something sound worse than it is.

Sorry Stash; I know this wasnt the point of your post-I seem to sidetrack easily.

Posted by: JBHood at 24 April 2008@19:32:14 (GkYyh)

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