What Was the Pittsburgh Shooter’s Motive?

What was the Pittsburgh Shooter’s motive?

The man that police say entered a fitness center in Pittsburgh, turned off the lights and opened fire has a name — George Sodini.

A systems analyst who was well known for his hatred of women, Sodini left behind plenty of written material to tell law enforcement authorities the story of his crime from development to action. Pieces of his diatribes about his personal life and his plans to get even with women are slowly but surely creeping onto the Internet.

In fact, Sodini kept a private blog to record his thoughts in the months leading up to his first (failed) attempt and the most recent deadly and succesful spree.

Sodini rants about his mother, a woman he refers to as both “vicious” and “vindictive”. The otherwise mild systems analyst also whines about his “despair” over his “inability to attract women”. In this sense, Sodini fits the classic mold of a misogynist.

Sodini has a very high opinion of himsef to go along with his ill will for women, writing in his blog — “I actually look good. I dress good, am clean-shaven, bathe, touch of cologne – yet 30 million women rejected me ….”

Many people are blaming this crime on pure sexism. That may sound strange in today’s world, but gender bias doesn’t look the way it did a hundred or even fifty years ago. A movement for gender equality has made some progress — we no longer see women banned from certain academic careers, and can you say WNBA — but true misogyny doesn’t make its face so well known. According to crime experts, gender bias is alive and well in America.

Sodini seems to fit a nasty pattern of male criminal — the kind who express serious hatred towards any and every woman. In fact, the very idea or image of a woman can send this type of misogynist into emotional overdrive. Sodini appears to have taken out his frustration on a number of female scapegoats. While crimes like this are not exactly common in America, the idea of misogyny is nothing new. According to popular lore, the oldest poem in existence is written in Greek — its title? “Woman”. The poem is a diatribe against all things female.

Why does misogyny still exist? How could a man like Sodini feel the way he does in the twenty-first century? Sociologists explain misogyny like this — women are very much considered caregivers. They are the main caretakers for our entire lives. When you have a system set up whereby one gender is responsible for something like nurturing and caregiving, the possibility for blame and intrigue both go through the roof. It is this strange mixture of worship and hatred that can create a killer just waiting in the wings for his chance to go off. In fact, writing in his violent and angry blog, Sodini punctuates this theory by calling his own mother “the Boss above all other Bosses.”

He goes on to say that his mother “actually thinks she’s normal. Her way and only her way with no flexibility toward everyone in the household. A power and control thing.”

I don’t think we’d be jumping to any conclusions by saying that Sodini’s problems with women start with the one that gave him life.

Then there’s the other angle Sodini points out — rejection or lack of recognition from women. Some men, who may be predisposed to violence or anger, become irrational after facing a series of rejections, even ones in their own mind. When a woman rejected Sodini, in his mind she was making a comment about his masculinity, attacking his sense of self. Most of us guys just shrug and move on.

Sodini was obviously a rejected male — complaining about the “millions” of women who rejected him, and constantly referred to himself as “Never married”.

Clearly Sodini had a ton of hatred towards women. Reading the details of his blog and his other written materials, it is clear that Sodini was a timebomb — he was going to commit this terrible act (eventually) and there was nothing that could get in his way. on committing this act, and nothing was going to stop him.

The attack went something like this.

Sodini planned for months to walk into his suburban Pittsburgh health club, turn off the lights, and open fire into a crowd of women. He even “stalked” the club at odd times, hoping to find a time when a women’s fitness group was meeting, figuring his chances for killing women were higher during a female only events.

George Sodini walked into his club Tuesday night with four guns. He would eventually use three of them in the attack.

Sodini had entered the club twice that day already — perhaps the crowd in the gym at those times was not to his liking, not filled with enough women, so Sodini left and came back. The third time, Sodini found his perfect set of victims — a dance class full of females, and killed three women, wounding nine others before killing himself.

Sodini’s neighbors described the 48 year old, an employee for a law firm’s finance department, “anti-social”. Sodini’s own blog vetted this fact, setting out the trails and tribulations of a sad loner. The blog even listed his date of death as Aug. 4, 2009.

Sodini allegedly had not a single girlfriend after the year 1984, and had gone without a date since May of 2008. In his blog, Sodini confesses to being completely without sex for almost twenty years.

Listen to some more of his raving — “Women just don’t like me. There are 30 million desirable women in the US (my estimate) and I cannot find one. Death Lives!”

Police say that Sodini fired as many as 52 shots before turning the gun on himself and committing suicide. “He walked right into the room where the shootings occurred as if he knew exactly where he was going,” Allegheny County police Superintendent Charles Moffatt said. “I think he went in with the idea of doing what he did.”

The three female victims who died in the attack were Elizabeth Gannon, 49, of Pittsburgh, Heidi Overmier, 46, of Carnegie, and Jody Billingsley, 38, of Mount Lebanon.

Law enforcement officials had some difficulty identifying the victims at first, due to their workout clothes and lack of identification.