by Ann Hoevel, CNN
A man opened fire in a crowded theater during a midnight showing of the latest Batman movie, killing 12 people and wounding 38. Along with the alleged shooter’s family and the NRA, I expect nerds and other outcasts will get some unwanted attention today.
My stomach dropped when I heard news of the mass shooting for the same reasons everyone else's did.
But as a nerd and CNN's resident expert on geeky subcultures, I readied myself for pointed questions which I expected to get from outside the geek community: "Why 'Batman'?" "Is the shooter a nerd?" "Why is it always the loner?"
There's a precedent for labeling people considered nerds or geeks or outsiders as potentially dangerous individuals who might snap. After the Columbine shootings, Goths were given a wider birth than usual. Post school shootings, video gamers get to field a slew of weapons-related questions. Now my gut tells me comic book fans and movie geeks might face closer scrutiny even though there's no evidence the alleged shooter was either.
But if the public shooting incidents of the last twenty years – Columbine, Virginia Tech, D.C. sniper, Gabby Giffords – have taught us anything, it's that people who decide to kill innocents are many things. They are students, veterans, children, parents, jilted lovers, video game enthusiasts and rock music fans.
Suspected Aurora, Colorado, shooter James Holmes was a PHD candidate in neuroscience at the University of Colorado Denver who was in the process of leaving the graduate program. Though little is knows about the alleged killer, he has been labeled a "nerd" by an uncle who spoke to the press. A neighbor pegged him a loner. And already a former FBI profiler speculated he might be a "dark, Trekkie-like person."
Whether the Colorado shooter or any other killer considers himself a nerd, mass murderers are, above all else, mentally imbalanced. It is not normal human behavior to conduct a shooting rampage.