Newman is the principal investigator on this case study. We wish to thank Martin West, Ph.D. candidate in government and social policy at Harvard University for his help in understanding many of the theoretical issues raised in this case study. We also like to acknowledge the assistance provided by Margot Minardi, Department of History, Harvard University.



Greater Paducah Economic Development Council.


McCracken County School District.


McCracken County School District.


In a deposition taken in February 2000 for the civil suits, Carneal said that he had actually stolen this gun approximately a month before the shooting. It is not clear which account is correct.


In the same February 2000 deposition, Carneal stated that he had planned the shooting at least a month before it took place, perhaps contradicting his earlier account. We believe that this confusion reflects a series of decisions and uncertainties on Carneal’s part. He began planning the shooting before he actually decided to carry out his plan. Indeed, he testified in the deposition that after arriving at school the day of the shooting, he decided to leave the bundle of weapons in his sister’s car, but she reminded him that he was forgetting his “English project.”


The exceptions were the families of the victims, whose portraits of the Carneals were less flattering and the emotional timbre far more angry. This is not hard to understand given what these families have lost.


Interview with Kathleen O’Connor, October 23, 2001. O’Connor was Carneal’s treating psychologist when he was incarcerated in the juvenile detention center.


Dewey Cornell, “Psychological Evaluation of Michael Carneal,” September 3, 1998, p. 10.


Elissa P. Benedek, William D. Weitzel, and Charles R. Clark, “Report of Psychiatric and Psychological Evaluation,” July 17, 1998, p. 15.


Cornell, September 13, 1998, p. 13.


Benedek et al., p. 26.


Interview with Kathleen O’Connor, October 23, 2001.


Interview with Kathleen O’Connor, October 23, 2001.


Dewey G. Cornell, “Michael Carneal Evaluation,” February 1, 1998, p. 17.


Police interview, December 1, 1997.


Benedek et al., p. 12.


A review of the research by an expert panel of the American Psychiatric Association suggests that there is a link between video games and behavior. Cited in James Garbarino, Lost Boys (New York: Anchor Books, 2000), p. 115.


Cornell (September 3, 1998), p. 16.


If Carneal had admitted guilt, it would have been easier to pursue a wrongful death suit against him in civil court.


Since Michael Carneal himself has no assets or income, the judgment against him can only be collected if the victims’ families win a suit against the Carneal family insurance company, a case that is still pending at the time of this writing.

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