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Activist says violent video games may be factor in shooting

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Activist says violent video games may be factor in shooting

By Venitz Fritz
Marshall County Tribune-Courier

A Florida attorney and anti-video game activist said he has been in contact with Marshall County Attorney Jeff Edwards regarding the shooting at Marshall County High School on Jan. 23.

Jack Thompson said he has offered his expertise pro bono to assist with the case and has provided a sworn statement to officials detailing his involvement in representing families of victims in similar school shootings.

Thompson, who represented families of victims in the Heath High School shooting, alleges Michael Carneal was a user of violent video games which led him to kill three students and injure five others in 1997. He and some of those parents appeared on The Today Show, 60 Minutes and other national news programs to discuss the impact violent video games are alleged to have had in that case.

Thompson said he has been told by Edwards that the 15-year-old suspect was also a user of violent video games and that his grandmother had recently taken them away from him. Edwards confirmed information has been found indicating the suspect was a user of the games.

"What happens in the case of heavy users of video games is that when they have the virtual reality taken from them, they will set out to make it real reality." said Thompson. "They do this without being fully appreciative of what they are about to do."

Thompson, who lives in Coral Gables, Florida, has also filed an open records request with the Kentucky State Police to receive an inventory of what was seized from the home of the suspect.

The attorney said he has concerns regarding the investigation by Kentucky State Police and whether video games were searched for in the home of the suspect following the shooting.

"I've got suspicions based on how I've seen law enforcement work in the past," he said. "They are hesitant to say a video game led to the acts."

In the letter to KSP Commissioner Richard Sanders that accompanied the open records request, Thompson also accuses the state police of stonewalling the investigation.

"The public is any investigative agency's best ally; otherwise, "If you see something, say something" is a hollow ironic phrase. (I've) learned much from the December 1, 1997, West Paducah Heath School massacre. One thing is that public participation in an investigation is indispensable in getting to the root causes of such an event."

Edwards said that at this point in the investigation the records being requested by Thompson cannot be disclosed.

In a letter to Gov. Matt Bevin, Thompson wrote, "It appears the Kentucky State Police do not want to secure this evidence that you yourself identified as one of the "cultural" dangers that help cause these catastrophic events." I beg you to order the Kentucky State Police Commissioner and lead detective John Sims to secure this evidence and in doing so rely upon what all law enforcement officials since Columbine have known to be the link between murder simulation video games and school shootings."

Last week Bevin said, "We can't celebrate death in video games, celebrate death in TV shows, celebrate death in movies, celebrate death in musical lyrics and remove any sense of morality and sense of our higher authority and then expect that things like this are not going to happen."

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