On Feb. 20, PBS' long-running science series NOVA airs "Mind of a Rampage Killer," an hour-long documentary on the neuroscience of teen rampage shootings: Newtown, Aurora, Columbine, and on the list goes.
What makes a person walk into a theater or a church or a classroom full of students and open fire? What combination of circumstances compels a human being to commit the most inhuman of crimes? Can science in any way help us understand these horrific events and provide any clues as to how to prevent them in the future? As the nation tries to understand the tragic events at Newtown, NOVA correspondent Miles O'Brien separates fact from fiction, investigating new theories that the most destructive rampage killers are driven most of all, not by the urge to kill, but the wish to die. Could suicide–and the desire to go out in a media-fueled blaze of glory–be the main motivation? How much can science tell us about the violent brain? Most importantly, can we recognize dangerous minds in time—and stop the next Newtown?
Miles (who's also my boyfriend) showed me the rough cut. It's really a powerful documentary. Do tune in. NOVA "Mind of a Rampage Killer" premieres Wednesday, February 20, 2013, 9p.m. ET, as part of "After Newtown" special programming.
Above, an excerpt: Miles interviews Andy Williams and his father, Jeffrey. Andy was convicted of the 2001 shooting at Santana High School. In the shooting two students were killed and thirteen others were wounded. Andy is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole for 50 years.
Related: Miles talks with John Hockenberry about the doc, on the public radio program "The Takeaway."