Young Men and Violent Crime

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Wed, December 12 2012 at 6:43 PM, Updated: Wed, December 12 2012 at 7:44 PM

22-year-old Jacob Tyler Roberts is the man police said opened fire at a Clackamas mall on Tuesday afternoon, killing two, wounding another...all before police said, he shot himself.

It mirrors a trend. 24-year-old James Holmes is accused of opening fire in a packed Aurora, Colorado movie theater back in July. Before that, in June, 23-year-old Christopher Husbands allegedly shot up a mall in Toronto, Canada. Recent crimes are trending toward younger men.

"Some of the psychological factors have to do with having a somewhat solitary lifestyle, being a bit of a loaner, having an agenda that is of great importance to you, but may seem relatively unimportant to most other people," said Dr. Michael F. O'Connell, a Clinical Psychologist in Medford.

He said these young men are loners who don't talk things over with people. Add to that, being at a development age and being physically aggressive combine to set them up for violence.

"The parts of the brain that are still under development at that point is the frontal areas of the brain which are largely responsible for impulse control," said Dr. O'Connell.

"They're also beginning to deal with higher levels of testosterone," he said.

In the case of the Clackamas shooting, situational factors may have played a role. According to reports, Roberts had dashed dreams of being in the military, and recently broke up with his girlfriend.

"Life issues are overwhelming and the person has certain vulnerabilities psychologically then, things can very much go awry," Dr. O'Connell said.

He said as a society, we generally admire those who try to figure out their own problems, but it can turn on us when people like these young men break.


About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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