It's reminiscent of Springfield, Ore., where a physically fragile 15-year-old named Kip Kinkel last May allegedly opened up on classmates a day after calmly murdering his parents in their home. Or West Paducah, Ky., where Michael Carneal began shooting in a crowded school hallway, killing three and wounding five others before an extraordinarily calm student walked up and told him to stop. Or the most incongruous of all, Mitchell Johnson and Drew Golden, 13 and 11 years old, baby fat still pinching at the collars of their school clothes as they laid down an exceptionally accurate line of fire on students in their middle school in Jonesboro, Ark. While we know the details of those stories, we aren't necessarily any closer to answering the question of why.
We've been here before, and it's never pretty. The pictures on TV -- SWAT teams running into the schools, hysterical students running out -- have been repeated six times in the past 18 months. And now a seventh, the bloodiest of all: Littleton, Colo., just southwest of Denver, where three young men dressed in fatigues stormed into Columbine High School. As many as 25 students may now be dead, as well as two of the suspects, and at least 18 people are injured. A number of students were held in the building for hours. Some used their cell phones to tell their parents they were trapped.