The gunman who killed nine people in Dayton, Ohio early Sunday maintained a “hit list”of high school classmates he wanted to kill (if they were boys) or rape (if they were girls), CNN reports, meaning he fits into a larger pattern of mass shooters with rich histories of violence against women.
While police have not yet uncovered what motivated 24-year-old Connor Betts to open fire at a popular nightlife district before getting fatally shot himself, they do have quite a bit of material to work with from his past. One classmate, included on Betts’ list, recalled him as being “dark” and “depressive.”
Another classmate, David Partridge, called the police after a friend showed him the list, and convinced her to as well:
“I said, ‘Hey, I don’t want to drag you into this, but we have to go to the police. This guy could go to the school, he could kill people, he could hurt my family, he could hurt you,’” Partridge recalled telling his friend.
Predictably, many of the female students on the “rape” list were girls who had romantically rejected Betts; he was said to have spoken frequently about violence, and called women “sluts.”
The narrative around mass shooters as spurned men enacting revenge is so consistent as to become cliché. Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz harassed a girl who lived near his workplace, bombarding her with texts and begging her to date him to the point that she was afraid of him. There was the Santa Fe teen who shot and killed a girl who allegedly rejected him. The Connecticut boy who stabbed a girl to death after she declined to go to prom with him. San Bernardino shooter Cedric Anderson was a serial domestic abuser. Elliot Rodger became an icon to incels everywhere thanks to the deranged, misogynistic manifesto he left before killing sorority girls at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
According to data collected by Everytown for Gun Safety, the majority of mass shootings in the U.S. are in some way connected to domestic or family violence; a 2018 report found that in at least 54 percent of mass shootings, the perpetrator also shot a current or former intimate partner or family member.
In the coming days and weeks, police will continue to piece together an image of who Betts was and why he did what he did. But any biographical details we learn are almost incidental to the central characteristics that define who he was: A man enraged that society, particularly women, weren’t giving him what he felt he was owed.