Luke Woodham – Unrequited Romeo

The Pearl High School shooting was a school shooting that occurred on October 1, 1997 at Pearl High School in Pearl, Mississippi, United States. The gunman, 16-year-old Luke Woodham (born February 5, 1981), killed two students and injured seven others at his high school. Before the shooting at Pearl High School began, Woodham stabbed and bludgeoned his mother to death in her home. Luke was particularly peeved on October 1, 1997. His girlfriend broke up with him and he didn’t approve. After he stabbed his mother to death he headed off to school with a rifle and a pistol. He’d show his girlfriend what happened to people who rejected Luke Woodham. Wearing an orange jumpsuit and a trenchcoat,he made no attempt to hide his rifle. Minutes before he started the shooting, he gave the following message to a friend, “I am not insane, I am angry. I killed because people like me are mistreated every day. All throughout my life I was ridiculed, always beaten, always hated.  It is not a cry for attention, it is not a cry for help. It is a scream in sheer agony saying that if you can’t pry your eyes open if I can’t show you through displaying pacifism, then I will do it with a bullet.”  Right away he killed his former girlfriend Christina Menefee  and and then another girl, Lydia Kaye Dew yet he didn’t stop there. Seven other students were wounded before he ran out of ammunition.  It probably didn’t help that Woodham and two of his friends worshipped Adolf Hitler: Hitler worship made him feel powerful. However, assistant principal Joel Myrick retrieved a .45 pistol from the glove compartment of his truck and subdued Woodham inside his”mother’s car. Then Myrick demanded “Why did you shoot my kids?” to which Woodham replied, “Life has wronged me, sir. I killed because people like me are mistreated every day,” he said. “I did this to show society: Push us and we will push back.”  Watch bullying

On October 8, 1997 Grant Boyette, Delbert Shaw, Donald Brooks, Wesley Brownell, Daniel Thompson and Justin Sledge were arrested in suspicion of conspiring with Woodham to commit the shooting. During his trial, Woodham claimed to have gotten ideas of committing the murders by being involved with a Satanic cult. Woodham admitted to being a Satanist, and claimed that his friend Grant Boyette invited Woodham to join a Satanic group known as “The Kroth.” He claimed that Boyette told him that he had “potential to do something great.” Woodham said that Boyette promised him that he could get his ex-girlfriend back or get even through black magic. Charges against his friends were later dismissed. Woodham claimed at trial that he’d been possessed by demons that were manipulated by a member of his group, a direct contrast to his earlier statement. At his trial, Woodham claimed that he could not remember killing his mother. Watch Luke Woodham asking for clemency

There were separate trials for the murder of Woodham’s mother and the school shooting. Woodham’s lawyer argued at both trials that Woodham was insane at the time of the killings. Jurors rejected Woodham’s insanity defense at his first trial for the murder of his mother, and he was sentenced to life in prison on June 5, 1998. His second trial took place on June 12, and he was found guilty of two counts of murder and seven counts of attempted murder, with the jurors once again rejecting the insanity defense. He was given two life sentences for the murders and seven 20-year sentences for his attempted murder convictions.He is currently serving 3 life terms plus an additional 140 years in prison. He will be eligible for parole in 2046, when he is 65 years old. It has been 14 years since the shootings. In 2011 Woodham, now 30 years old, asked for clemency. He is quoted as asking for a chance “at the new life God has given him.” It is unlikely that bullying is the only reason teenagers kill. As with adults, some adolescents kill because they are chronically aggressive, cold and unfeeling. Some kill because they “explode” in response to a  history of “over-controlled hostility.” Some  lash out after wallowing in feelings of victimization and nurturing longstanding resentments. Others kill because they have been traumatized and are unable to tolerate their existence. Some who are immature and narcissistic become “obsessed.” Deprived of love or gratification, they feel justified with violence. Less  common, are the killings committed by the psychotic, those with disturbed and disordered thoughts and only a tenuous grasp on reality.

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2 Responses to Luke Woodham – Unrequited Romeo

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