What Goes Through The Mind of a Killer?

bullet hole thorugh window

We’ve covered a lot of shootings in the past, three of them in the past two weeks. We wanted to know what goes through the mind of someone bent on shooting and killing another human being.

What is a person’s thought process when they decide to pull the trigger?

bullet casing

“I guess my answer to that is there’s not a thought process!” says Lt. Paul Burch with the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office.

Lt. Paul Burch has been in law enforcement for 27 years and has seen it all.

“Two older men got into an argument whether there was self-rising flour in biscuits and that ended up in a homicide. Another one was somebody took the last beer out of the refrigerator. Two roommates. And that escalated into someone getting shot and killed.”

Burch thinks these actions are often a product of your environment.

“They grow up in that environment and unfortunately when you grow up from a child seeing that, that’s just a way of life.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Rebecca Stephens says can also be genetics…a mental illness called anti-social personality disorder.

“Doesn’t mean that they’re not social, in fact, they can be extremely charming. These are people who lack empathy, they lack remorse, they think the rules don’t apply to them, they can get away with whatever they’re doing without having to think about the consequences,” says Stephens.

Assistant Chief Lawrence Battiste with the Mobile Police Department has another explanation. When a child grows up in that environment, they should be treated similarly to our soldiers returning from war.

“Well if you take a young child that’s five, anywhere to 13 years of age, and they’ve seen that kind of trauma and they haven’t been treated for that type of trauma, you can expect that they’re going to have some type of overlapping effects from what they’ve seen,” says Battiste.

That environment, mixed with a disrespect for the weapon itself, does not bode well for a person’s reasoning skills.

“They have been limited to their access to conflict resolution. And because they haven’t been taught in some cases how to deal with that conflict resolution they take what they know and they implement what they know.”


Battiste says he knows what needs to be done—and hopes it will work.

“We need to address gun violence in the community. I think that we’re realizing that we have to talk about the things that may cause gun violence in our communities and through proper education, I do believe we’ll be able to turn some of this around.”

He also advises parents to sit down with their child and talk about what’s going on in their lives and stress the importance of turning away from violence.

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