๐“๐“ธ ๐“œ๐”‚๐“ผ๐“ฝ๐“ฎ๐“ป๐”‚ ๐“ฃ๐“ธ ๐“ฃ๐“ฑ๐“ฒ๐“ผ ๐“œ๐“พ๐“ป๐“ญ๐“ธ๐“ฌ๐“ด

This is the post excerpt.

Crime Flashback: Johnny “Pops” PAPALIA

By: Stephen G. Boyle (pseudonym)ย 


It was the balmy summer of 1997. An area of Niagara Falls known for its quaintness was to be no longer. In an instant a man lay dead at the foot of his doorstep as the smell of gun powder permeated the air. The rapid spontaneous fire erupting from the .38 caliber gun was no accident. The shooter was on a distinct mission to kill this night. As Carmen Barillaro lay dead, his killer, reputed Mafia hit man Kenneth Murdock stood above him, reveling in the last piece of contract work that had been successfully completed on behalf of the Musitano crime family. This murder was not an accident. It was a sanctioned hit from the criminal underworld of traditional organized crime, emanating from Hamilton.


A couple months earlier, May 31, 1997 to be exact, the man Barillaro reported to, Johnny “Pops” Papalia was gunned down in broad daylight on the streets of Hamilton. This mafia style execution represented a shift in power in the Canadian underworld as Ontario’s reputed top mobster was now eliminated. On this fateful day Papalia had ventured from his Railway Street offices to have a discussion with Kenneth Murdock, a ‘walk and talk’ in mob parlance, a tactic to avoid a conversation being recorded by a surveillance device. Murdock momentarily lagged behind Papalia as he brandished the .38 caliber gun firmly in his hand. With a stroke of the trigger Papalia lay mortally wounded on the streets of Hamilton. Getting shot in the back of the head at close range represents an atypical modus operandi for the mafia, to ensure the intended target has been eliminated. Murdock had successfully completed his piece of contract work as he fled into the midst of anonymity, but not for long.



Murdock became a cooperating witness against the Musitanos, the catalyst being the issuance of a sanctioned contract to now eliminate the hit man. Murdock subsequently confessed to the two murders along with a third murder from 1985. This murder was also committed at the behest of the Musitano family. An outstanding debt owed to the family led to this contract hit.

The Musitano brothers were each freed from jail in 2007 after having served close to seven years of a ten year sentence after they pled guilty to conspiring to murder Barillaro. Murdock is currently in a halfway house in British Columbia. He has served 10 years of a life sentence for the three mafia execution-style murders and will be eligible for full parole in December 2011.

ORIGINAL STORY from: 2011 by Stephen G. Metelsky (pseudonym: Stephen G. Boyle)ย 

Photographs/Files from: Stephen G. Metelskyย 


๐“œ๐“ธ๐“ฝ๐“ฒ๐“ฟ๐“ช๐“ฝ๐“ธ๐“ป๐“ผ ๐“ธ๐“ฏ ๐“ช ๐“’๐“ธ๐“ท๐“ฏ๐“ฒ๐“ญ๐“ฎ๐“ท๐“ฝ๐“ฒ๐“ช๐“ต ๐“—๐“พ๐“ถ๐“ช๐“ท ๐“ข๐“ธ๐“พ๐“ป๐“ฌ๐“ฎ

By: Stephen G. Metelskyย 

Originally published in Blue Line Magazine – October 2017

Motivators of a Confidential Human Source

What propels criminals to provide sensitive information to police under the guise of being a confidential human source?


Pictured: James “Whitey” Bulgerย 

The recruitment and handling of sources involves one of the most dangerous activities a police service can become affiliated with. The first phase of assessing the viability, credibility and reliability of a confidential human source involves identifying and determining the core motivators to decipher why a person becomes a confidential source. This should involve a continual process for the duration of the sourceโ€™s involvement with the police, due to motives being fluid and not fixed. The motivators of an informant may fluctuate throughout their covert tenure with the police; therefore, the importance of continually assessing and reassessing their behavioural motives is key to ensure the balancing criminal pendulum is benefiting a police service and not potentially hindering it.

The three most common types of motivators for people to provide sensitive information is:
โ€ข In exchange for judicial consideration,
โ€ข Monetary compensation,
โ€ข The civic duty to do the right thing.


Pictured: Johnny Depp portraying James “Whitey” Bulger in: “BLACK MASS” (2015)

The sources that provide information to the police merely on the grounds of โ€œdoing the right thingโ€ typically do not seek or request compensation or consideration from the police. However, these types of sources still require a significant amount of due diligence from the handling officer(s), in tandem with adhering to respective policies and procedures.

Such handling becomes problematic when sources are more actively embedded within organized criminal groups. In these circumstances, the underlying motives for cooperating with the police may not be evidently clear to the handling officers, particularly if they are inexperienced handlers. A hypothetical scenario involving an entrenched organized criminal being handled by two relatively inexperienced handlers can potentially translate into exposing a police service to the elevated risks of confidential human source handling. With that said, the two most dangerous types of motivators a confidential human source can possess is: wanting to seek revenge (against competing organized crime groups) and/or attempting to corrupt a police officer.

Organized criminal groups, like certain outlaw motorcycle gangs and Eastern European crime clans, routinely encourage members to actively compromise and corrupt a police officer in order to snatch inside information about arrests, warrants and investigations.

The human source motivators involving โ€˜revengeโ€™ and โ€˜corruptionโ€™ were tragically exposed in the FBIโ€™s handling of former Boston mafia boss: James โ€œWhiteyโ€ Bulger. Bulger did provide information to his FBI handler โ€” agent James Connolly โ€”but it was to eliminate his competition, the Italian mafia in Boston to facilitate the expansion of Bulgerโ€™s criminal enterprise. Eventually, the relationship between Bulger and Connolly involved the dissemination of information from the FBI directly to benefit Bulger โ€” including the identities of other confidential sources, some of whom were murdered due to the one-way information exchange.

Itโ€™s an extreme and relatively isolated case, but it highlights the importance of adhering to the policies and guidelines for handling confidential human sources, including (but not limited to): meeting a source with a partner, protecting the identity of a source, maintaining the flow of information from source to the police (never the opposite), refraining from divulging your personal information and/or exchanging information electronically, documenting information so it can be followed up for verification, reliability and corroboration; and knowing the differences between a source and an agent.

Never task or direct a confidential human source. A confidential human source handler wants to know what a source sees and hears when they are active on the streets. Once a source is tasked with something as simple as retrieving a phone number, the handler has essentially elevated that source into the role of a police agent. That now incorporates a whole slew of additional policies, procedures and regulations.

At the end of the day, be professional and adhere to your respective policies and procedures, seek advice from other experienced handlers and/or consult with a designated Crown attorney versed in this type of intelligence work.


Pictured: Former FBI Agent: James Connollyย 

Meanwhile, Connolly, the former FBI agent and confidential human source handler, is now living in a federal prison where orange is the new white(y).

Written by: Stephen G. Metelsky

๐“˜๐“ต๐“ต๐“ฎ๐“ฐ๐“ช๐“ต ๐“–๐“ช๐“ถ๐“ซ๐“ต๐“ฒ๐“ท๐“ฐ & ๐“ž๐“ป๐“ฐ๐“ช๐“ท๐“ฒ๐”ƒ๐“ฎ๐“ญ ๐“’๐“ป๐“ฒ๐“ถ๐“ฎ: ๐“ ๐“ฅ๐“ฒ๐“ฌ๐“ฝ๐“ฒ๐“ถ๐“ต๐“ฎ๐“ผ๐“ผ ๐“’๐“ป๐“ฒ๐“ถ๐“ฎ?

Illegal Gambling & Organized Crime: A Victimless Crime?

Investigative Story By: Stephen G. Metelsky

Illegal gambling โ€“ is it a victimless crime? A game of poker may seem harmless and innocent, but it isnโ€™t. Gambling is a lucrative vice in organized crime โ€“ fraught with violence and even murder.


According to the RCMP, illegal betting is at the top of the list of income generating rackets for organized crime โ€“ and business is good in southern Ontario. And experts agree.

โ€œGambling is the most profitable in the criminal portfolio. Not drugs, not prostitution, but illegal gamingโ€ says Paul Manning, a former undercover officer who infiltrated the underworld and illegal gambling in southern Ontario โ€“ the epicenter being Hamilton.

In 2014 an Our London story about gambling in Ontario revealed illegal gaming generates a profit into the tens of millions of dollars for organized crime.

William Sword, a former Ontario Provincial Police investigator with the Organized Crime Illegal Gaming Unit has provided expert testimony throughout Ontario regarding cases of organized crime and illegal gaming.

โ€œItโ€™s a very lucrative business, even more than drug sales,โ€ says Sword, adding the steps to lucrative gambling profits can be reaped in the underworld with a deck of cards, some betting slips, and a book.


Why is it thriving? Police are aware of illegal gaming houses in southern Ontario but are strapped to devote significant resources to a crime, a summary offence, that rarely ends with a jail sentence in an Ontario Court of Justice.

The costs associated with the investigative front end are outweighed by the underwhelming result, typically ending with a paltry fine or conditional discharge.

โ€œThose investigations are very costly and human resource intensive,โ€ says William Sword.

As recent as 2015, Sword testified he personally observed crimes involving assaults and extortions in relation to gambling debt collections during his years investigating illegal gaming, at times working undercover. He is aware of shootings and homicides that have occurred in the underworld due to illegal gambling and the owing debts to crime families.

Illegal gaming has thrived in the southern Ontario area for years โ€“ leading to murderous intentions in the mafia. Musitano crime family hitman Kenneth Murdock, who murdered at the behest of brothers Pat and Angelo in the 1990โ€™s, killed three.

The motive behind the murder of janitor Salvatore Alaimo was an outstanding gambling debt owed to the Musitanoโ€™s. Alaimo wasnโ€™t even involved in organized crime.

The murder of former Hamilton mob boss Johnny โ€œPopsโ€ Papalia was rooted in outstanding sports betting, bookmaking debts and loans.


โ€œThere is use of violence to enforce gambling debts,โ€ says Paul Manning, referencing what underworld enforcers resort to when collecting gambling debts owed to the mob in southern Ontario.

Manning contends there are mafia run poker houses presently operating in the city of Hamilton, with five or six different poker games simultaneously on the go at each location.

โ€œGambling is protected with their lives,โ€ Manning says, adding an illegal gaming house is heavily protected by enforcers โ€“ menacing criminals with underworld connections, to avoid the games from being โ€˜ripped-off.โ€™

โ€œThese gaming houses are controlled by traditional organized crime,โ€ adds Manning.

โ€œThe Hells Angels provide protection at illegal gaming houses run by traditional organized crime families in Hamilton, and collect outstanding debts on the mobโ€™s behalf,โ€ says a former intelligence officer who investigated outlaw motorcycle gangs in southern Ontario.


The former biker officer, wishing to remain anonymous, spoke about the undercover work of Paul Manning, and his infiltration of mafia controlled illegal gaming houses in Hamilton.

In southern Ontario, โ€œhistory has shown, that the Hells Angels and Italian organized crime are working together in the illegal gaming industryโ€, says Len Isnor, an outlaw motorcycle gang expert and former Detective Staff Sergeant from the OPPโ€™s Biker Enforcement Unit, who retired in 2017.

โ€œThese card games are all held at locations that limit people from attending. The security is there, but nobody knows where they are. They will get an invitation the day of the game. They attend a location and a van takes them to the gaming locationโ€, adds Isnor.

Illegal card games comprise one of many gaming rackets between the mob and the bikers. Online sports betting provides a greater, more lucrative profit margin in the underworld. Another joint opportunity exploited by traditional organized crime and the Hells Angels โ€“ with Platinum Sports book, evidenced by the RCMP/CFSEU led Project ORIVER.


The Criminal Intelligence Service of Canada reported the discovery of Platinum Sports book back in 2012 โ€“ involving organized criminal groups โ€œusing an off-shore gambling website, PlatinumSportsBook.com, to launder proceeds of crime generated in Canada and make money through illegal gamblingโ€, reports the federal intelligence agency.

โ€œWith Project ORIVER, it exposed a little bit of what the Hells Angels are into with Italian Organized Crime. Italian Organized Crime runs Platinum Sports book, but the Hells Angels are a part of itโ€, adds Isnor, the biker expert who worked on the RCMP led project.


โ€œThe website was host to thousands of gamblers whose wagers allegedly resulted in millions of dollars in profit for organized crimeโ€, according to the Criminal Intelligence Service of Canada. When this much money is involved, violence is typically not too far behind.

โ€œHells Angels members would go out and enforce payment of any outstanding gambling debtsโ€, adds Isnor.


Could illegal gaming be one of many underlying motives for the recently linked murders of Angelo Musitano in Waterdown and Mila Barbieri in York region involving the same shooter? A definite possibility. In the underworld, motives and murderous intentions are endless.

In 2016 the RCMP-led Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit initiated Project OEIDER โ€“ with a focus on illegal gambling machines in 11 mafia affiliated cafรฉs in York region โ€“ seizing over 70 illegal gaming machines along with proceeds of crime in the thousands of dollars.

Pat Musitanoโ€™s vehicle was torched in the driveway of his Hamilton home. In June 2017 his house was shot at, just weeks after his brotherโ€™s murder. The same underworld turbulence is occurring in York region โ€“ arsons and explosions decimating many illegal gambling affiliated cafรฉโ€™s.

There is palpable tension in southern Ontarioโ€™s underworld. Are the lucrative territorial profits reaped from illegal gambling a possible underlying motive for the current turbulence and bloodshed? One of many questions yet to be answered by investigators.

Odds are illegal gambling will no longer be viewed as a victimless crime.

๐“œ๐“ช๐“ฏ๐“ฒ๐“ช ๐“œ๐“พ๐“ป๐“ญ๐“ฎ๐“ป: ๐“ ๐“œ๐“พ๐“ผ๐“ฒ๐“ฝ๐“ช๐“ท๐“ธ ๐“œ๐“ธ๐“ฝ๐“ฒ๐“ฟ๐“ฎ?

In October of 2017 I wrote about the May 2017 murder of mobster Angelo Musitano. The article appeared in the #NiagaraFallsReview #StCatharinesStandard & the #WellandTribune – the link to the article is below:

Whacked in Waterdown: The Murder of Angelo Musitano

On January 11, 2018 the Hamilton Police held a press conference regarding an update in the MUSITANO Homicide case.ย  Police have confirmed that Angelo Musitano had been under surveillance and stalked by unknown perpetrators in the days leading up to his death.


Photo: Pasquale “Pat” MUSITANO

Global News did a follow-up story on the MUSITANO Homicide. As an Organized Crime expert, I was interviewed by reporter Catherine McDonald. The video link to the Global News story from January 11th, 2018 is below:

Global News: Musitano Homicide Update

More to follow soon.

๐“ข๐“ฝ๐“ฎ๐“น๐“ฑ๐“ฎ๐“ท ๐“–. ๐“œ๐“ฎ๐“ฝ๐“ฎ๐“ต๐“ผ๐“ด๐”‚

๐“ฃ๐“ป๐“ช๐“ฐ๐“ฎ๐“ญ๐”‚ ๐“ฒ๐“ท ๐“–๐“ป๐“ฒ๐“ถ๐“ผ๐“ซ๐”‚

A tragedy in this small Niagara town at the west end of the region transformed an otherwise serene evening in June of 2002 into a day forever etched in the memories of local residents. After a brief yet tumultuous relationship had ended in May, Shannon Cruse returned to Grimsby to be close to her family after living briefly with her boyfriend, Peter Kiss, in his hometown of Milwaukee, Wis. Cruse had ended the relationship amidst revelations to friends that she was afraid of her now ex-boyfriend and to alert authorities if they ever saw her ex in the Niagara area.

On Friday June 14, 2002 Kiss travelled from Wisconsin and crossed the Canadian border in possession of an undetected firearm. His premeditated intentions became clear as he swapped his own vehicle for a rental before arriving in Grimsby.

Winston Road, western outskirts of town, bordering Stoney Creek, is within walking distance to Lake Ontario. It was dusk when Kiss travelled down this desolate road. When the reverberating sounds of gunshots permeated the air, a number of frantic 911 calls were made, prompting a tiered emergency response to the area. Shannon Cruse was located first, sprawled across the front driveway of her home, suffering from two gunshot wounds. She was transported to hospital but succumbed to the injuries inflicted by her murderous ex-boyfriend.

Investigators frantically rushed to the home of Shannonโ€™s parents in close proximity to the first crime scene. When investigators arrived at the second Cruse home they discovered the front door had been forced open. This led police to the master bedroom of the Cruse family home where three other victims were located. Shannonโ€™s parents, Mary and Donald Cruse had also been fatally shot by Kiss. Sadly, Shannonโ€™s six-year-old daughter Shaniya had also been victimized. The killer was never brought to justice for this cowardly and senseless act. His lifeless body was discovered in the home, the fatal shot having been administered by his own hand.
The carnage confronting emergency personnel upon their arrival that day inflicted a post-traumatic residue that lingered beyond the echoing of gunshots and the blood-stained asphalt. Some of the neighbouring residents from this tight knit community also sought post-event grief counselling after this horrific event. The tragedy sparked an ongoing issue pertaining to domestic violence and abuse, not to mention concerns about border security and the smuggling of firearms in and out of the country.


Itโ€™s been 10 years since the innocent lives of four people were taken. Long gone are the photographers and the crime scene tape draped across Winston Road, but the memories of the murdered victims never to be forgotten.

Story by: Stephen G. Metelsky (Pseudonym: Stephen G. Boyle)

Published: 2012

๐“๐“ท๐“ช๐“ฝ๐“ธ๐“ถ๐”‚ ๐“ธ๐“ฏ ๐“ช ๐“ข๐“ฌ๐“ฑ๐“ธ๐“ธ๐“ต ๐“ข๐“ฑ๐“ธ๐“ธ๐“ฝ๐“ฒ๐“ท๐“ฐ: ๐““๐“ฒ๐“ผ๐“ผ๐“ฎ๐“ฌ๐“ฝ๐“ฒ๐“ท๐“ฐ ๐“ข๐“ธ๐“ถ๐“ฎ ๐“’๐“ธ๐“ถ๐“ถ๐“ธ๐“ท ๐“Ÿ๐“ป๐“ฎ๐“ฌ๐“พ๐“ป๐“ผ๐“ธ๐“ป๐“ผ

Article By: Stephen G. Metelsky

Previous research on video game violence has revealed a significant relationship between exposure and aggressive behaviour (1) (โ€œViolent video games desensitize youth,โ€ Blue Line, June/July 2008, S.G. Metelsky) as it pertained to the Columbine shooting in 1999.


There also seem to be common underlying precursors amongst the school shooters at Columbine, Taber, Alberta, and Dawson College in Montrรฉal. All three incidents involved perpetrators who had been bullied at school, were immersed in the violent video game culture, and showed signs of susceptibility to the contagion effect (copy cat phenomenon) stemming from some form of violent media.


The shooting at Columbine on April 20, 1999 involved two shooters who killed 13 students and wounded 24. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were addicted to violent video games, particularly โ€˜Doom,โ€™ which was licensed by the United States Army to train soldiers to effectively kill.2 Harris and Klebold modified the game by superimposing faces of students and teachers who had wronged them in the past onto the faces of victims depicted in the game while obliterating the abilities of the characters to return fire. They played it to the point of intense obsession, constantly rehearsing shooting their victims. Some researchers argue that this repeated exposure to depictions of graphic violence can contribute to desensitization.2


Essentially, real life violence becomes a callous extension of violence that is repeatedly rehearsed within the confines of a violent video game. Behavioural scientists argue that repeat exposure to violent media can lead to a process of desensitization, whereby children develop normative beliefs that aggression is appropriate. There are currently more than 1,000 studies that point overwhelmingly to a causal connection between media violence and aggressive behaviour in some children, six professional/medical organizations noted in a 2000 joint statement.3 Following the tragic shooting at Columbine, information surfaced regarding the climate of bullying that was occurring at Columbine High School. It was learned before the shooting that Harris and Klebold were subjected to an atmosphere of intimidation and bullying by the jocks at Columbine that was allegedly allowed to continue in a condoned, yet festering atmosphere. The future killers were jointly subjected to homophobic comments by other students with no action taken by school administrators, thus allowing the resentment to linger unabated.


The Ontario Ministry of Education is addressing the issues of bullying and other inappropriate behaviours at schools with Bill 157, which came to fruition on Feb.1, 2010. It puts the onus on teachers and other school staff to be responsible and more diligent with inappropriate behaviours. This is a positive step in a proactive direction. However, it is unfathomable to calculate the number of bullying incidents that went unreported and/or by the wayside in Canada and the US between any specified time frame. Overall, the focus has predominantly centered around the violence and aggression the bullies exhibit, with little attention paid to the long-term effects on the bullied students and their pent-up anger and frustration. The addiction to violent video games in conjunction with the simultaneous school victimization became ensconced in a vicious cycle that eventually spiralled out of control for the two Columbine killers. Momentary relief from the hostile environment was achieved by violently re-enacting the shooting of various students and teachers repeatedly in the context of a violent bloody video game. Researchers have subsequently argued that individuals high in hostility are more likely to become aggressive when exposed to violent video games, as opposed to persons low in hostility.4


The Columbine killers were fascinated with many other types of violent media. They were fanatical about the Oliver Stone Movie Natural born killers, which portrayed and somewhat glorified a killing spree by two people. They used the films acronym โ€˜NBKโ€™ as the code in their journals and home videos. Specific acts and/or scenes may have caused them to become susceptible to the contagion (copycat) effect, but this is mere speculation. From their journals, it was later revealed that they equipped themselves with various explosives, in an attempt to rival the work of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVie. A speculative connection, albeit thereโ€™s no actual proof the killers viewed the film, also dealt with the 1995 film, the โ€œBasketball Diaries.โ€ One particular scene involves the main character wearing a black trench coat while shooting six students in a classroom. The immersion into violent forms of desensitizing media played a persuasive role in the violent outcomes of the Columbine killers. The historical significance may also have played a role with the contagion/copycat effect as well. The Columbine shootings occurred on April 20th, also coinciding with the birthday of Hitler. The killers had referenced terrorist bomber McVie, responsible for the April 19 Oklahoma City bombings, coincidentally the same date as the FBI standoff in Waco, Texas.

Taber, Alberta

A mere eight days after Columbine, another school shooting occurred at W.R. Myers school in Taber, Alberta on April 28, 1999. During this incident, 14-yr-old Todd Smith strolled into his school and began firing at students in the hallway, killing one and wounding another with a .22 calibre rifle amongst several rounds of ammunition. Given the mere proximity to the Columbine incident, the Taber shooting was in fact a copycat event. The family of the gunman indicated that their 14-year-old had โ€˜snappedโ€™ after watching media coverage of the Columbine massacre. Critics have always suggested that there is only a causal connection between violent media and violent behaviour(s), yet there is an overwhelming amount of clear and convincing behavioural evidence supporting this causal connection and thus refuting their claim.


A particular violent video game or movie will not simultaneously create a collective impulse for all viewers to become violent. Researchers have argued that violent youths have been predisposed to violence and desensitization. It is staggering to learn that the average adolescent has viewed approximately 15,000 simulated homicides in various forms of media.5 In 2005, the American Psychological Association issued a statement regarding violent video games, stating that perpetrators in games go unpunished in 73 per cent of all violent scenes, thus reinforcing and teaching that violence is an effective method to resolve conflict.6 To garner additional support that the Columbine coverage created a triggering effect with the Taber shooting, trauma psychologist Doctor Butterworth suggests:

You take a youngster who has that predisposition. You put them in an environment where the media shows these things (violence) and its like a triggering effect. The media doesnโ€™t create, it triggers these people with the disposition.5


The extensive media coverage of Columbine clearly had a propelling effect on the violent behaviour exhibited with the Taber shooting. Clearly, there must have been some extenuating circumstances predating the news coverage of the Columbine incident. A common link between the Columbine shooters and the shooter from Alberta involved the issue of being bullied at school. W.R. Myers students indicated the shooter wasnโ€™t overwhelmingly popular and had been bullied, including teasing and name calling. The shooterโ€™s mother attested to the fact that her son had been routinely bullied and suffered from depression just prior to the shooting.7 According to court documents, Smith had been severely bullied at school, including one particular incident when he was doused with lighter fluid and threatened with being lit on fire. One can only speculate the levels of anger, resentment, and frustration pent up inside him. The Alberta shooter is a rare exception amongst the study of past school shootings in that he did not commit suicide post-incident; rather, the youth was arrested and subjected to the criminal justice system, albeit as a juvenile, to the chagrin of the Crown attorney prosecuting the case, who argued he should be tried as an adult.


The rare exception of a perpetrator surviving such an incident allowed a post-shooting psychological examination. Prior to Smith being released in 2003, a psychologist assessed his rehabilitative progress. Dr.J. Satterberg concluded that Smith still suffered from delusions and was obsessed with violence, primarily with movies and video games. He also concluded that he exhibited no signs of remorse and had a high probability of re-offending.7 Although it is difficult to determine what particular games/movies Smith was obsessed with, one can infer that the commonality between Smith and the Columbine shooters was violent forms of media. This represented an escape from school bullying as a viable forum to realistically vent their anger and revenge vicariously through violent game characters. They channelled this pent-up anger by incessantly playing the games to obsession and eventual desensitization to real-world violence while ensconced in a virtual fantasy sequence that involved revenge and retaliation against the bullies responsible for their frustrated dispositions in the real world.

Dawson College: Montreal, Quebec

A crazed gunman entered Dawson College in Montrรฉal on Sept. 13, 2006 equipped with an assault rifle and long dark trench coat. Kimveer Gill began to shoot at students, killing one and injuring 19 in an incident unique from any other school shooting, as it intermingles the contagion effect and violent video games. The clichรฉ of art imitating life and vice-versa is apparent. First, the killer was deeply obsessed with death and violence that seemed to possibly resonate from being bullied and victimized at school. Prior to the shooting, he had created an online posting under the tag name โ€˜fatality 666.โ€™ One of the postings captured the following rant:

I am not a people person. I have met a handful of people in my life who are decent but I find the majority to be worthless. Itโ€™s not only the bullies fault, but the principalโ€™s fault for turning a blind eye. Itโ€™s also the fault of the police. Anger and hatred simmers within me.9


The killer admits in his own words that he is angry at the people who bullied him and hates officials who failed to act and intervene. There may have been other extenuating circumstances that led to these levels of anger and hate, but this quote speaks volumes about bullying and the catalytic effect it had on the killerโ€™s disposition and outlook on society. Aside from the online passages, the killer also posted photographs of himself with various weapons, such as knives and firearms, eerily similar to the Virginia Tech shooter who killed 32 students on April 16, 2007. Like the Montrรฉal killer, he had a rant filled manifesto accompanied by various photos of him posing with his armoury of handguns. The aspects pertaining to the contagion effect and an obsession to addictive violent video games are intertwined and somewhat convoluted with the Montrรฉal shooter. After the Dawson shooting authorities located a letter in which the killer
praised the two Columbine shooters. Further, it was revealed that he had a deep obsession with violent video games, particularly โ€˜Postal 2โ€™ and โ€˜Super Columbine Massacre,โ€™ a game created in April 2005, amid much deserved controversy. It allows the game player to assume the roles of the two gunmen while recreating the Columbine shooting, following them on a fictional adventure in perdition after they commit suicide.


Glorifying Columbine in a realistic video game, enabling countless youths to realistically recreate the actions of the two killersโ€™, is difficult to fathom. Nonetheless, the game was released in 2005. Therefore, not only was the Montrรฉal shooter obsessing and repeatedly re-enacting the Columbine shooting in a virtual world, the lines between virtual world and reality became blurred when he went on his shooting rampage.

The contagion/copy cat effect was present on two levels, the actual Columbine shooting and the video game version of the incident. The killer was obsessed with Columbine prior to the gameโ€™s release. One can only speculate that the vicious cycle began to spiral out of control in conjunction with the killersโ€™ vicarious and empathetic view towards the Columbine killers after the game was released. The research has shown that repeated exposure to depictions of graphic violence can contribute to desensitization.2 The bulk of the research has been based on fictional violence as it pertains to video games. The Montrรฉal killer may have been subjected to heightened levels of desensitization based on his repeated exposure to a violent video game rooted in realism. This hypothesis is again supported by the online words of the killer, who wrote:

โ€œWork sucks, school sucks, life sucks, what else can I say? Life is a video game, youโ€™ve got to die sometime.โ€10


Three psychosocial theories help explain the behaviour(s) exhibited by the shooters in all three incidents. The first is reactive aggression. Connor et al. (2004) define this as an angry defensive response to a particular threat or frustration specifically entailing an act of revenge against someone that has done you wrong.11 This theory applies to all of the shooters, primarily due to subsequent aggressive responses stemming from being bullied at school. Similarly, the next psychosocial approach details the inverse relationship between frustration and aggression, lending credence to explanations for the shootersโ€™ behaviour(s). According to the frustration-aggression hypothesis, Dollard et al. (1939) proposed:

โ€œPeople who are frustrated, thwarted, annoyed, or threatened will behave aggressively, since aggression is a natural, almost automatic response to frustrating circumstances. Moreover, people who exhibit aggressive behaviour are frustrated, thwarted, annoyed or threatened.โ€12


All of the perpetrators were subjected to varying levels of bullying at school, causing them to feel frustrated, threatened, and likely annoyed. The aggression and response to the bullying wasnโ€™t instantaneous. All had an outlet to unleash their pent-up anger and frustration โ€“ violent video games. Even in a virtual world, it is likely they found some solace within a game that involved alleviating stress by realistically killing people. The Columbine killers even modified their game to incorporate actual students and teachers. The vicious cycle of bullying in conjunction with venting pent up anger/frustration in a video game resulted in tragic circumstances for these perpetrators, along with countless innocent victims. The third psychosocial theory involves displaced aggression, proposed by Denson et al. (2006). The crux of this theory occurs when a person is somehow provoked but unwilling (or unable) to act against the person who initiated the provocation. Essentially, the initial aggression involves retaliating against innocent bystanders who had absolutely no involvement with the source of the conflict, hence acts of aggression that are displaced onto unsuspecting people. This applies to all of the perpetrators discussed in this article.


The Columbine and Taber shootings involved victims who were not even the source of the initial provocations for the killers and who did not bully the perpetrators. Displaced anger was more apparent in the case of the Montrรฉal shooter. The bullying and anger the perpetrator was subjected to were unleashed onto innocent victims in a school the shooter was never a part of, victims with absolutely no connection to the initial sources of conflict. There is no plausible explanation for this displacement of anger. The three common precursors linking the three incidents are not a generalized template for predicting a school shooting. This is a comprehensive examination of the underlying common denominators that were a precursor to each of the three shootings. Other youths may have likely been exposed to a similar set of circumstances involving the three common denominators: bullying, enjoying violent video games and being exposed to other violent media. When these three factors are present it is not an automatic precursor to an outburst of violence. However, the empirical evidence does overwhelmingly suggest a causal connection exists between exposure to violent video games and higher levels of desensitization, thereby leading to a greater tendency for aggression.


The limited research in this area tends to omit other mitigating factors that likely contribute to the vicious cycle of virtual and real-world violence, being the issue of bullying in conjunction with the contagion effect. Albeit limited, the existing research is definitely qualitative in nature. Given the extenuating circumstances of a rapidly advancing society, resulting in greater technology and increased violence in mass media, the quantitative research must continue. The video game market doesnโ€™t show any signs of slowing down. The game โ€˜Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2โ€™ was released in Nov. 2009 and has already surpassed the $1 billion mark. The technological quality of the graphics continues to improve. The American military still uses video game technology to teach new soldiers how to effectively shoot and kill in a virtual world. The games are referred to as โ€˜murder simulatorsโ€™ in some military circles.


The concerning factor pertains to the same technology being accessible to youths in the form of marketable video games, regardless of the allocated rating system for parental warnings. There have been several shootings in the United States involving youths who have never fired a weapon but were all avid violent video game addicts. The accuracy of fire was more indicative of a seasoned shooter than a youth who had only been exposed to firing weapons inside a virtual video game. An additional component of concern encroaches into the ethical dilemma associated with video games such as Super Columbine Massacre, Grand Theft Auto and 25 to Life. In โ€˜25 to Lifeโ€™ players have more than 40 weapons available to them and assume the role of a gang member pursuing police officers to kill them. The condoned message reinforces that killing a police officer is justified. Similarly, in the โ€˜Grand Theft Autoโ€™ series, offences such as car jacking, armed robbery, homicide, drug use and prostitution are not only condoned; they reinforce that this is normative behaviour in the virtual world.


When a youth becomes desensitized to real world violence due to over exposure from incessantly playing violent video games, distinguishing between virtual world and reality becomes a blurred distinction, sometimes with aberrant ramifications. The US Secret Service published a report in 2002 that examined 37 US school shootings. Here are three relevant findings from the report: First, all of the attackers exhibited various behaviours prior to the shooting that caused other people concern. Second, most of the attackers felt bullied and/or persecuted prior to the attack. Lastly, most of the attackers had access to weapons that were used during the attack on their respective school.14

All three findings are consistent with the three incidents discussed, particularly the two Canadian shootings. The particular finding involving the behaviours of the perpetrators prior to the shooting is vital. The focal point of preventative measures has to involve parents being acutely aware of their childโ€™s environment and social surroundings. Limiting childrenโ€™s exposure to violent media, combined with positive family exposure, can be a preventative measure against negative media influences. Overall, a joint effort is required from various facets, including but not limited to health care professionals, social services, police, and school officials.

Published Research Article By: Stephen G. Metelsky (2010) #BlueLine

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feelings and behaviour in the laboratory and in life.โ€ Journal of Personality
and Social Psychology, Vol 78(4): 772-790.
3: Joint Statement on the Impact of Entertainment Violence on Children
(American Psychological Association, US Academy of Pediatrics, American
Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Child, Adolescent
Psychiatry and the American Medical Association), Congressional Public
Health Summit, July 26, 2000. From web site: http://www.aap.org/advocacy/
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of violent video game habits on adolescent hostility, aggressive behaviours
and school performance. Journal of Adolescence, 27, 5-22.
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โ€œCopy-Cat Crimes.โ€ (Video Documentary) February 1, 1999.
6: Olson, C.K. (2008) โ€œViolence and Video Games,โ€ Toronto Star, 28 April.
From web site: http://www.torontostar.ca
7: โ€œTragedy in Taber,โ€ CBC News online, 27 April 2004. From web site: http://
8: Bartol, C.R.(1999). Criminal Behaviour: a Psychosocial Approach.
Prentice-Hall: New Jersey.
9: Gombu, P. (2006). โ€œKiller loved guns, hated people,โ€ Toronto Star, 14
September. From web site: http://www.torontostar.ca
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September. From web site: http://www.torontostar.ca
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R.H. (2004) Proactive and reactive aggression in referred children and
adolescents. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 74, 129-136.
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2002. From web site: http://www.secretservice.gov/ntac/ssi_final_report.pdf
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๐“’๐“ช๐“ฝ๐“ช๐“ผ๐“ฝ๐“ป๐“ธ๐“น๐“ฑ๐“ฎ ๐“ช๐“ฝ ๐“’๐“ธ๐“ต๐“พ๐“ถ๐“ซ๐“ฒ๐“ท๐“ฎ

ย ย  The fore stock of the 12-gauge shotgun slid forward, the barrel having been sawed off. Ammunition was meticulously loaded into the tubular magazine before it was placed in the trunk, nestled beside a fully loaded 9-millimetre semi-automatic rifle amongst rounds of strewn ammunition.


ย ย  The preparation on this day mirrored steps taken by a hunter about to step into the bounds of the wilderness, seeking to target unsuspecting prey. This was to be Eric Harrisโ€™s last day of life in this small community in Jefferson County, in the state of Colorado. It was the morning of Tuesday April 20, 1999. Quaint serenity would surrender to a sudden burst of violence, culminating in a lingering stigma, anonymity forfeited. The name of this small American town firmly ensconced in the annals of history, synonymous with images of violence. This is Columbine, Colorado.

The second vehicle was loaded with a cache of weapons and explosives. Dylan Klebold equipped himself with a sawed-off shotgun and a 9-millimetre semi-automatic handgun. The wheels of this treacherous plan had been firmly set in motion as the two were set to meet at Columbine high school. It was 11:10am. Two desks sat empty this day, as the subtle eeriness of their absenteeism about to unfold. The smell of cafeteria food began to permeate down the hallway as students shuffled to class amidst the familiar sound of muffled chatter and lockers clanging shut. Unbeknownst to the staff and students, Klebold and Harris lay waiting in their vehicles outside the school.


ย ย  Two propane bombs had been covertly placed inside the cafeteria by the disgruntled teens. Reminiscent of a hunter stalking game, the killers planned to ambush students scurrying from the school after the bombs exploded. They were infatuated with and wanted to emulate Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, an American responsible for bombing a federal building in 1995 that killed 168 people.


The two students had been bullied and subjected to verbal barrages from other teens, thus alienating them from their peers. Resentment translated into a simmering rage. Incessantly playing violent video games represented an outlet to vent this pent-up anger. The graphic games entailed the utilization of weaponry to methodically rehearse killing fictional characters in a simulated fantasy world. Fantasy and reality became a blurred distinction on April 20th, 1999. This was not a rehearsal. After bombs failed to explode the two killers stealthily approached their school, entered and began shooting at students in a barrage of rapid gunfire, the violent blasts reverberating down the corridors. As students scurried for cover the killers unleashed a reign of terror, as ammunition ejected from the ports of their weapons. Spent shell casings were strewn throughout the bloodied hallways of Columbine high school, the smell of gunpowder lingering in the air.


ย ย  Twelve students and one teacher were killed during the murderous rampage. The school shooters administered their own justice with one swift pull of the trigger, forever engraining Columbine with the violent carnage that unraveled that fateful day.

Written by: Stephen G. Metelsky (Pseudonym: Stephen G. Boyle)

Published: 2013

๐“ฃ๐“ฑ๐“ฎ ๐“ข๐“ธ๐“ป๐“ญ๐“ฒ๐“ญ ๐“›๐“ฒ๐“ฏ๐“ฎ ๐“ธ๐“ฏ ๐“—๐“ฎ๐“ท๐“ป๐”‚ ๐“›๐“ฎ๐“ฎ ๐“›๐“พ๐“ฌ๐“ช๐“ผ

ย ย  Henry Lee Lucas was one of the most prolific serial killers in the annals of criminal history.


Dubbed the ‘one eyed drifter’ and ‘confession’ killer, Lucas was indicted for 246 homicides and confessed to some 600 murders, some involving later recanted versions. Interestingly enough, Lucas had divulged sparse details about various slayings that only the killer would have been privy to. His murderous rampage spanned from 1960 to 1983. Lucas was the definitive example of being a product of his environment. His dysfunctional family was comprised of a drug addicted prostitute mother who routinely exposed her son to a world of crime and deviance. His father was a heavy drinker who later succumbed to his alcohol-inducted lifestyle. The early and later life for Lucas was void of any form of parental and social nurturing. His exposure to routine beatings and a sexually deviant lifestyle would be internalized as normal behaviour.


In 1960, then 24-year old Lucas became embroiled in a verbal argument with his mother. The domestic dispute escalated as Lucas unleashed years of pent up rage, leaving her dead in a pool of her own blood. He was convicted in Michigan for second degree murder and jailed for 10 years before being released in 1970 due to prison overcrowding. In 1976 Lucas was in the state of Florida when he met Otis Toole, an equally demented and deranged sociopath. Together, they embarked on a cross-country murder spree, claiming many innocent lives along the way. Lucas would later claim that the pair committed an exorbitant number of homicides, divulging that Toole was directly involved in approximately 108 homicides.


In 1983, Lucas was arrested for illegal possession of a firearm. Unbeknownst to authorities, Lucas was about to unleash a startling confession. In the state of Texas a ‘Lucas Task Force’ was established enabling investigators to debrief Lucas in an effort to solve various homicide cases and locate victims. Lucas would later attempt to recant some of these confessions.


In 1998 an imprisoned Lucas had his death sentence commuted to life in prison by then Governor George W. Bush, after it had been recommended by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. Lucas died in prison in 2001 at the age of 64. His murderous accomplice, Otis Toole, had died back in 1996 while serving six life sentences in Florida state prison.

Story by: Stephen G. Metelsky (Pseudonym: Stephen G. Boyle)

Published in 2012