Clackamas Mall Shooting: Shooter Jacob Tyler Roberts Trained Using Video Games


Remember the Virginia tech shooting? Video games.

The Beltway sniper attacks? Video games.

And now the Clackamas mall shooting? Also video games, according to nationally recognized former attorney and anti-video game crusader Jack Thompson.

On Tuesday afternoon, shooter Jacob Tyler Roberts, 22, armed himself with a semi-automatic AR-15 and went on a rampage at the Clackamas Town Center in Portland, Oregon. He killed two and wounded another before committing suicide.

Thompson said in an interview that “Given this guy's method, his age group and the randomness of it, it's more likely than not that he rehearsed for this on games.” It’s hardly the first time he has jumped to that conclusion in the hours and days following a mass shooting. Thompson has blamed video games, particularly the Grand Theft Auto franchise, for nearly every shooting imaginable. Years ago, he so incensed gamers with his constant aspersions of video game-induced rampages that he is a recurring topic on Cracked.

Admittedly, Roberts did play video games. But as Slate’s William Saletan points out, he “also watched movies and went out drinking together” with his friends.

Roberts has (or rather, had) not been properly psychologically profiled. There is no evidence indicating that the shooting was related to video games, movies, or any other form of media. In a search for a motive, multiple possible points of stress were cited by police and acquaintances, including eviction proceedings initiated against him in July, the suspension of his driver’s license, and missing a flight to Hawaii on Saturday due to drunkenness the night before.

All this adds up to a picture of a sad, troubled young man lashing out at the world, not someone driven to murder by video games, as Thompson has historically been happy to imply of other shooters.

Thompson’s political stunts and self-aggrandizing behavior have gotten him in trouble before. In 2007, the Florida Bar successfully stripped Thompson of his license, citing in part his use of non-legalistic venues to “intimidate, harass, or bring public disrepute to those whom he perceives oppose him.”

Let's not jump to any conclusions too quickly, but I think we can safely say video games played as minor a role in this incident as his purported love of South Park and Breaking Bad.