The shooter in this week’s brutal killing of nine and wounding of seven others at Umpqua Community College in Oregon identified himself on social media as a “Beta” male. These Beta males are the men who hide in the shadows, the loners and those who feel they are somehow less than worthy of having close friends or relationships. Beta males often lack the physical presence, charisma, and confidence of their Alpha male counterparts. In the past, we as a society have been afraid of the dominant Alpha males and their aggressive nature; men who are often characterized as bullies and uncaring brutes. Now in the wake of yet another mass shooting, Beta males are finding recognition on the internet and in the 24 hour news cycle. We know this particular deranged individual studied past mass killings and high profile murders and wrote on one blog: “it seems the more people you kill the more you’re in the limelight” and “this is the only time I’m ever going to make the news.”
Like many of the Beta males before him, this murderer fit the typical mass shooter profile: white, male, mid-20s, a loner with low self-esteem, a longing for attention and recognition, and possibly a long history of mental health issues. Similar to his other murderous counterparts, he alerted people of his intentions, either as a way to secure power and control in his life or as a last desperate plea for help.
On this occasion he warned others via social media about his plans, garnering wrath from some but unfortunately gaining perverted encouragement from others. Armed with this encouragement, a half dozen weapons, body armor, and a cache of ammunition, he set out on his murderous rampage attempting to prove once and for all he was not a Beta male but someone to be reckoned with. Like his mass shooting predecessors, he failed. Within days his name will not be remembered and his acts will be a footnote in history.
What will be remembered are the innocent lives lost, the pain of family members, and a hero named Chris Mintz, an Army veteran who risked his own life, was shot multiple times, and saved the lives of countless others. And oh, by the way… he is an Alpha male if there ever was one.
John Matthews is a thirty-year law enforcement veteran and award winning writer. He is a contributor to numerous public safety publications and the author of Mass Shootings: Six Steps for Survival, School Safety 101, Neighborhood Watch 101, Creating A Safer School and the co-author of The Eyeball Killer, a first-hand account of his capture of Dallas’ only serial killer.