California State Fullerton Massacre

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Until 2011 Seal Beach shooting, the California State University Fullerton massacre had remained the worst mass murder in the United States of America. By shooting with a semi-automatic firearm, the incidence caused the death of seven people while two others sustained injuries inside the California State University library on 12th July 1976. The man behind the killings was Edward Charles Allaway who had been a custodian at the institution’s library. Although still under conviction, Edward Charles Allaway was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, a mental disorder symptomized with loses of thoughts of reality and abrupt criminal decisions (Smith, 2006).

Through differential association, the reasons behind the California State Fullerton Massacre can be deduced. According to Scarpitti and others, Differential Association theory was developed by Edwin Sutherland. The theory proposes that an individual may learn and develop motives, attitude and ways of engaging in criminal activities through interaction with others. By this theory, Allaway’s act can, therefore, be critically analyzed and argued by his exposure to the unfavorable environment and access resources which triggered his criminal activities.

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Before the mass murder, Allaway had an abnormal behavior which made his parents believe that he had a mental disorder even before moving from Michigan to southern California in 1973. He had forced himself into crime scandals as well as divorcing his first wife at unexplainable conditions. Although two possible explanations have been brought forward for discussion on what inspired to the cause of the murder, both explanations tend to support his mental disorder as the cause of the school shooting. Having worked as a custodian at the university’s library, Charles Allaway had enough exposure to the world of pornography and that of criminal activities. He probably learned how to acquire and use a firearm while working in the library.

One of the probable reasons thought to lead to the massacre was his state of marital insecurity. While working in the library, he overheard four of his colleagues discussing on how to shoot and produce a pornographic film as a form of financial security. With his state of mental disorder, he was convinced that the three colleagues must have been targeting his secondly married wife as an actor (Luppi, 2016). He had openly claimed to her that she had shot a pornographic film with his job counterparts. His wife even made a disclosure that Allaway had been threatening to tear her wife’s face with a penknife if he found that she had cheated on him. Privy to the mass shooting, his wife, had already filed a divorce case as she feared her life was in danger. As a confirmation that the allegations might have been true, police ascertained that indeed, the four fellow custodians had a motive of shooting a pornographic film although they did not acquire evidence of his wife’s presence in the more than 20 confiscated films. Besides, the sequence of the shooting he used also confirmed that Allaway was angered by his fellow custodians as he shot at others while looking for them. According to Luppi, Allaway had even run after two of the custodians before shooting them to death. With this explanation, it can, therefore, be argued that Charles Allaway’s exposure to the pornographic industry through the library could have influenced him to think of his wife as a targeted actor in the films. The same environment may also have influenced acquiring information of where to acquire a firearm and how to use it.

Since Charles Allaway had complained to his supervisor on the working conditions he was in that he did not like, the supervisor could have managed the state by considering his request. Cawood and others claimed that on the day of shootings, Allaway was to meet his supervisor to discuss issues affecting him. One of the issues was to be transferred to another building on the campus. The other issue was regarding the pornographic films shot and shown in the library. Unfortunately, the supervisor did not give priority to his request which made delays (Scarpitti, F. R., Nielsen, A. L., & Miller, 211). With his brain disorder, he could have probably felt disregarded by the supervisor triggering his decision to take action.

In another argument of the main reason, Allaway had Native American supremacy. In a courtroom, his wife claimed that Allaway had been complaining of the presence of Blacks and Mexican-Americans. In the workplace, some of his co-workers could engage in conflict with him accusing him of being over racist. He could corporate if the black custodians in the library tried to explain something to him regardless of its importance. With the white supremacy public ideology in California by then, he could have been truly convinced that he deserved recognition as better than his workmates. This deduction can also add to his immediate anger and decision to shoot at fellow custodians in the library.

By application of differential association, it can, therefore, conclude that California State Fullerton Massacre was triggered by the suffering of a Charles Allaway mentally. His exposure to an environment which dealt with pornographic films created a condition of insecurity in his mind of his wife’s trust. The America’s ideology of white supremacy could also have triggered his action of engaging with arguments with his co-workers which also added up to his decision. In his brain disorder, Allaway’s exposure to the market of and use of firearms also contributed to the accomplishment of the unfortunate incidence.

  • Luppi, K. “40 years since a 5-minute shooting spree caused a lifetime of devastation, Cal State Fullerton remembers 7 lives lost.” 1 July 2016, www.latimes.com/socal/weekend/news/tn-wknd-et-0703-cal-state-fullerton-memorial-20160702-story.html.
  • Scarpitti, F. R., Nielsen, A. L., & Miller, J. M. A Sociological Theory of Criminal Behavior. Crime and Criminals Contemporary and Classic Readings in Criminology (2 ed., p 211). New York: Oxford University Press. 2009.
  • Smith, N. M. “History of a Cal State Fullerton Killer”. The Daily Titan. Fullerton, California.15th May 2006

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