…appears to have been acting alone and was not reported to have telegraphed any particular warning signs, mental illness, or violent tendencies. Good student, excellent debater—who had been kicked off the debating team and was seeking revenge.
That certainly can’t be a common denominator for school shootings. Nor, it seems, could this particular crime have been predicted in any way:
Pierson — who was described as exceptionally bright but difficult and argumentative — was upset about being booted from the debate team.
Minne said the senior had a combative personality.
“He was always the type that wanted to be right. He would always argue with the teacher about scholastic things, whatever we were talking about he always had something to say. Never wanted anyone to tell him he was wrong. I definitely noticed that in the classes I was in with him,” Minne said. “He spoke intelligently, he’s a smart guy, I think he did pretty well in school, he was just kinda weird. … He wasn’t a violent person, he was just verbally aggressive.”
Pierson’s neighbor said he was quiet and seemed like a nice boy but they didn’t really know him well.
The only person Pierson killed was himself, although a student he shot is in critical condition. Librarian Murphy—who was head of the debating team and who seems to have been Pierson’s intended target—was uninjured.
Oh, and of course the left would like to make some sort of political hay of the tragedy. But unfortunately for them, Pierson was a socialist and/or a Keynesian. Some newspaper accounts are murky about this; some mention unspecified “strong political beliefs” and seem to want you to figure it out yourself, because what those beliefs might be are mentioned only quite far along in the articles.
For the record, I don’t suppose that Pierson’s political beliefs had much influence on his violence one way or another; I think the motivation was personal and ultimately suicidal in nature. But I have no doubt that, had Pierson’s beliefs been on the right, they would have been emphasized in news reports of the shooting.