Remembering and Identifying Menacing Perpetrators: Exposure to Violence and the Weapon Focus Effect

Authored by: Kerri L. Pickel

Handbook of Eyewitness Psychology

Print publication date:  October  2006
Online publication date:  May  2014

Print ISBN: 9780805881073
eBook ISBN: 9781315805535
Adobe ISBN: 9781317777830


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On the morning of March 5, 2001, 17-year-old John Schardt watched from a classroom at Santana High School near San Diego as a younger boy with a .22-caliber revolver emerged from the restroom across the hall and began firing at other students, who tried to scramble out of harm’s way. Wounded students who could not escape fell to the floor, screaming. It was total chaos, John later told a reporter. The perpetrator fired more than 30 rounds in all, striking 15 people, two of whom died. Short, scrawny, and often ignored or picked on by other teens, he seemed to want some sort of revenge for being mistreated, but many of the students in the hallway apparently did not know him. John noticed that the boy was smiling as he fired the pistol (Finz, Kim, & Fagan, 2001; Finz, Kim, Fagan, & Brazil, 2001).

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