A reader tipped me off to this.
On a particular Wikipedia user’s “Talk” page, just after midnight UTC on June 20th 2012 (or June 19 at 8:20pm, Newtown time) another user posted links to an Excel file they had uploaded, describing the spreadsheet file as their custom “mass murderer list.” The message was posted under the username “KnaveSmig”.
Twenty minutes later, the same user posted another message, to the same page, with links to music files that they described as “songs about school shootings” that they had compiled off Youtube.
They posted only those two messages on Wikipedia, and then disappeared. There is no other activity associated with the account, nor the username anywhere else on the internet that I can find.
The files that the user “KnaveSmig” posted links to were hosted at Rapidshare.com — that website ceased functioning in 2015, so the files are no longer available.
However, the messages do provide some useful insight into the Sandy Hook shooter’s psychological state, six months before his attack and suicide at the elementary school.
Briefly, here is why I believe it’s likely that this was the shooter, based on what we know about his life and his other online activity:
- It is known that the shooter posted content to Wikipedia relating to mass shooters, under the username Kaynbred. (The evidence on Kaynbred)
- It is also known that, after mostly shedding his “Kaynbred” identity in early 2010, he took up a new username, Smiggles. (The evidence on Smiggles)
- The Sandy Hook shooter maintained a huge, meticulously arranged spreadsheet ranking mass murderers by a number of criteria. This was confirmed in the official police investigation, and was widely reported on, as one of the earliest known details about the shooter (the spreadsheet itself has never been released and its sealed status is part of an ongoing lawsuit filed by the Hartford Courant.)
- He was also very careful about the criteria used for defining “mass murderers” on said spreadsheet (exhibited in “Smiggles” posts below as well)
- As “Smiggles,” he had tried to share his spreadsheet before, on the Super Columbine Massacre RPG discussion forum:
There are several more things I will point out about this, but I’ll get to the messages themselves first. Here’s the context: “KnaveSmig” is posting a public message to the user page of another Wikipedia user, one who was very prolific in editing articles pages about mass murderers. KnaveSmig had apparently noticed this user when reading said articles. Here is what they said (or you can read directly at wikipedia here.)
Compared to the legions of people who focus solely on serial killers, it’s almost impossible to find anyone who’s interested in mass murderers, so I thought that I might as well introduce myself. I’ve been researching this topic since 2006 and I started compiling a formal list at the beginning of 2010. We basically use the same criteria, but the main difference is that I leniently define “mass murders” as involving a minimum of four casualties, whether through deaths or injuries.
Even if I could hope to be as thorough as you are, my list isn’t meant to be a comprehensive chronicle as much as it’s meant to help with answering statistical questions— albeit rather poorly since it really should be twice its current size. But if it weren’t for you, “twice” would be closer to “thrice”. I wouldn’t be surprised if you were responsible for 1/4 of my list, let alone the boundless complementary information you’ve provided on the other mass murderers. You’ve been incredibly helpful here.
I haven’t had the motivation to do much with my list since its first few months, and it’s currently in a mid-revision state, so the whole thing really isn’t much of anything to be excited about; but if you want to see it, here it is in all its mediocrity:
(dead link removed)
00:20, 20 June 2012 (UTC)
The second message followed about 25min after, pointing out a mistake on the spreadsheet:
Wow, ignore the negligent formatting error which placed Anders Breivik below William Unek. What an appropriate testament to my incompetency.
By the way, I don’t know if you have any interest in this sort of thing, but I recently compiled a pretty thorough list of (primarily YouTube) links to songs about school shootings. If you want just the list, you can download it here:
(dead link removed)
If you don’t mind downloading for half of a day, I took practically all of the songs (16 hours), cleaned them up as well as I could, and put them into a convenient package here. I recommend starting with the “Albums” file.
(four dead links removed)
If my mass murderer list is useless to you, at least you might be able to enjoy some relevant songs!~
That’s the only activity associated with this username anywhere on the internet, and they never came back to wikipedia.
The user he had posted the message to eventually replied, in 2013:
Hey KnaveSmig, I hope you are still alive. Sorry for not answering, but until now I really couldn’t be bothered to do so. Bad me, I know. I also didn’t save your list, and it ain’t available on rapidshare anymore, so if you should ever read this would you upload it again and leave me a note here? Thankee. 23:35, 7 April 2013 (UTC))
Some things that immediately jump out at me about this message, and what we know about the shooter:
- The statement “Compared to the legions of people who focus solely on serial killers, it’s almost impossible to find anyone who’s interested in mass murderers” is reminiscent of the statement from “Smiggles” seven months before, “Serial killers are lame. Everyone knows that mass murderers are the cool kids.“
- KnaveSmig states that they first became interested in mass murderers in 2006; this aligns with the Sandy Hook shooter’s statement about the Columbine message board from Sept 16 2011, “I think I found it through Google toward the end of 2006. I didn’t register for years because it seemed like the kind of website which would get you on a terrorist watch-list.”
- They also state that they “started compiling a formal list at the beginning of 2010.”
“Smiggles” was registered at the Columbine forum in Dec 2009. The first known posts from that account, including the sharing of the spreadsheet, come from early 2010. Early 2010 also marks the transition from “Kaynbred” to “Smiggles.” The Bushmaster rifle was subsequently purchased in late-March 2010; it appears that the shooter’s building of a spreadsheet in early 2010 was part of his gun-shopping phase, and so the purchas of the Bushmaster (and the Saiga shotgun the same week) would mark the culmination of that project.
- The awkwardly self-deprecating statements – “here it is in all its mediocrity”
and “what an appropriate testament to my incompetency” – are reminiscent of the e-mail released by the Child Advocate’s office, from July 2012 (one month after these messages from KaveSmig, and a few days after the Aurora shooting): “My interest in mass murdered [sic] has been perfunctory for such a long time. The enthusiasm I had back when Virginia Tech happened feels like it’s been gone for a hundred billion years. I don’t care about anything. I’m just done with it all.” (it should also be noted that, of this time period, his mother wrote in November “He has had a bad summer and actually stopped going out.”
- Sixteen hours is a pretty staggering amount of music that was supposedly all about school shootings. I have no idea what would be on there, except for the Youtube music that the shooter linked to as “Smiggles.” It was a pet subject of his, one he returned to again and again in tedious detail, usually as part of his preoccupation with establishing that the song “Pumped Up Kicks” was not about the Westroads Mall shooter. Below are the posts in question, which demonstrate the same combination of interests as “KaveSmig”:
7 September 2011:
Pumped Up Kicks, A hit song about a teenage killer?
I found that song about a month ago through Google because someone in the comments for a video of it said that it was about Robert Hawkins. “Robert” was apparently an arbitrarily selected name from what I could find, though, which is especially obvious considering that it has nothing to do with him other than how he took his stepfather’s AK-47.
For trivia’s sake, I know of four other young mass shooters whose names were Robert:
Robert Smith, November 12, 1966 (Who actually did use a “six-shooter”)
Robert Poulin, October 27, 1975
Robert Sartin, April 30, 1989
Robert Steinhauser, April 26, 2002
In any event, that song is waaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy too repetetive for me to listen to without throwing a hissy fit. I’ve been constantly listening to this one since last year and I still love it:
(dead Youtube link removed, video was apparently “Regalsin’s tribute to Robert Hawkins” as the same link was later posted under that subject)
October 28, 2011:”I Don’t Like Mondays” is a song about a school shooting. “Omaha Shopping Mall Blues” is not a song as far as I can tell, so I assume it’s a joke (the shopping mall Robert Hawkins attacked is in Omaha) or a reference to the tribute video above (he shares a link to it again here):
Pumped Up Kicks
That song really irritates me. This is the much better one:
(deal link removed)
In any event, that “Pumped Up Kicks” song isn’t even about Robert Hawkins.
The average age of the people that Robert Hawkins shot was 49. That doesn’t seem to be getting back at kids who have redundantly pumped-up kicks. If the song really is based off of him, they did a pretty terrible job in making it relevant when you compare it to something like I Don’t Like Mondays, let alone the Omaha Shopping Mall Blues.
October 29, 2011: The “Barry” that he refers to is presumably the Frontier High School shooter, who wore a cowboy hat and boots and had a preoccupation with Clint Eastwood films:
Pumped Up Kicks
I can’t stop thinking about how much this song annoys me. Even if it wasn’t so lame, it would still bother me that they used the name “Robert”. Now one of my favorite mass shooters has been turned into a trendy stereotypical poster child of school shootings just because of his age, despite having nothing to do with the school shooter archetype. They could have used Michael, or Evan, or Barry, which would literally fit in with the whole “cowboy kid” thing.
November 8, 2011: Includes a link to a Youtube video for “The Ballad of Charles Whitman,” a song about the University of Texas tower sniper of 1966.
Pumped Up Kicks
The guy who wrote Pumped Up Kicks said that the song is about an outcast teenager losing his mind while plotting revenge without any explicit violence occurring. People have interpreted that to mean that it’s about a school shooting. Because of the name Robert, Robert Hawkins has now become a stereotypical poster child of school shootings.
If any name other than “Robert” had been used for the song, no one would have associated Robert Hawkins with Pumped Up Kicks. If the name “Robert” had still been in the song, but Robert Hawkins had actually been 32 years old (the average age of American mass murderers in the last 20 years), again, no one would have associated him with Pumped Up Kicks. They would have instead said that “Pumped Up Kicks is surely about Robert Steinhauser”, not at all because he fits in with it better than anyone else would have, but merely because his name was “Robert”. At least with Robert Steinhauser, it almost sort of vaguely fits in with the interpretation many people have that the song is about school shootings.
Robert Hawkins’s mass murder unquestionably was not a school shooting: he shot up an upscale shopping store. Without applying my pet theory as to the origin of mass murder, which you’re accusing me of doing, anyone can see that Robert Hawkins did explicitly share the socioeconomic characteristics of much older mass murderers. Instead of approaching it through simply stereotyping him as a school shooter who was bullied by his classmates, it would thus be more accurate to approach it through simply stereotyping him as maybe being a young version of Mark Barton, with whom he shared many similarities.
If you interpret Pumped Up Kicks to be about school shootings and you think that Robert Hawkins is a better representation for a song about “an outcast teenager losing his mind while plotting revenge without any explicit violence” than Evan Ramsey or Michael Carneal would have been; and if you think that Pumped Up Kicks has more to do with Robert Hawkins in particular than the Omaha Shopping Mall Blues does, then I don’t know what I can say.
It’s akin to saying that I Don’t Like Mondays was about Charles Whitman. I mean, in a
sense I guess it could be, but it would be absurd to say that it’s a better representation of him than it is of Brenda Spencer; and if you want to think of I Don’t Like Mondays being about Charles Whitman, it would be absurd to say that this song,
has less to do with Charles Whitman than I Don’t Like Mondays does.
December 4, 2011: Note that Smiggles sneaks in some of the statistical observations from his spreadsheet, as KnaveSmig describes compiling along with his music playlist. The “multiple bootlegs” song he links to is a shock-rap that advocates school shootings:
Pumped Up Kicks
Other than the whole “Robert” thing, the only indication that Pumped Up Kicks could
be about Robert Hawkins in particular is that he used his stepfather’s Kalashnikov; but that’s not something unique to him because, according to the best information that I have available, around 75% of American <25-year-old mass shooters used firearms which they didn’t legally own, compared to around 25% of American >24-year-old mass shooters. Instead of being an explicit reference to Robert Hawkins, it could just be a throwaway reference to a common aspect of young mass shooters. Anyway, diverging from my whining, I serendipitously rediscovered Robert C. Bonelli Jr.after having forgotten about him for a while.
(link to photo of Robert C. Bonelli at trial)
The only explicit information that I could find about him regarding his teenage years was that he had dropped out of high school at age 16. At age 24, he was an extremely shy outsider who was constantly worried about being picked on for being reportedly 260 pounds at 5’10”. His duplex neighbor said that he was “the kind of kid who gets picked on in high school”. His uncle said that he had an inferiority complex, always being self-conscious about the way he looked, his weight, and how no girl would ever want him. Along with being depressed for many previous years, he had been having trouble with alcohol and drug abuse.
He spent almost all of his time alone in his room where he kept “a shrine of Columbine memorabilia”, which included newspaper clippings, “TV documentaries about ‘the darker side’ of Columbine”, and news accounts & pictures printed from the internet, along with a picture of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold taped to his wall. He had a video which included him building and exploding pipe bombs with two other local dropouts, one of whom’s girlfriend said that he had frequently spoken about killing himself.
It’s rumored that he also had multiple bootlegs of the album which contains this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6sZokeNzYw&t=16s
If he didn’t actually have it, I’m sure that he would have if he had known about it.
He repeatedly took cocaine early in the morning of Sunday, February 13, 2005. Possibly precipitated by a girl rejecting his friendship several days earlier, he decided to kill himself. Dressed in black, he left a suicide note at his house, borrowed his father’s car, and drove to the Hudson River with the Hesse Model 47 he had legally bought at a gun show four months earlier. He held the rifle to his head but couldn’t kill himself. He drove around aimlessly, and saw a police car in the parking lot of the Hudson Valley Mall in Kingston, New York. He decided to get the police to publicly kill him.
He wrote a second suicide note at some point and left it in his car. The only information I could find on either of them was from the second one, which included the Dylan quote, “The lonely man strikes with absolute rage”. He had written somewhere (I don’t know any details) that he had been wanting to do this before the Columbine anniversary. About an hour prior to the shooting, he went to a Walmart to buy ammunition and returned to the mall. He considered waiting until the coming Monday to do it at a school, but demonstrably decided against it. He parked in front of the Best Buy (presumably the most convenient entrance, going by Google satellite) and sat in his car for twenty minutes. Just before 3:15 PM, he picked up his rifle and walked toward the mall.
He shot three times at the front door, which caused ricocheting bullet fragments and shrapnel to superficially hit his first victim. The victim’s daughter’s purse and pants were each penetrated once, but she remained uninjured. Once he entered the Best Buy, he spent the next seven minutes aimlessly shooting in the store. He never shot from the shoulder and most of the bullets struck the ceiling and floor. The most aiming he did involved shooting from his hip at televisions and blank walls. He had many opportunities to shoot people but bypassed all of them. He reloaded once and eventually left the Best Buy, entering the main corridor where he spent the next two minutes shooting out store displays while walking toward the center of the mall. It was here that he shot his second victim in the knee. When he had expended all of his ammunition, he dropped his rifle and calmly surrendered. He was subsequently sentenced to 32 years in prison.
Robert Bonelli and Robert Hawkins (who both went by Robbie) both used AK-47 variants (although Bonelli’s was a very cheap model), and both of them had two 30-round magazines (although Bonelli’s weren’t fancily jungle-taped together like Hawkins’s).
While Robert Hawkins used 2/3 of it and killed eight people and injured four, Robert Bonelli used all of it, but only directly shot one person and indirectly shot a second. The only time that I’m aware of Robert Hawkins deliberately shooting at anything other than a human was when he shot a teddy bear, but none of Robert Bonelli’s shots were deliberate. Likewise, I cannot seeing anything which indicated that Robert Hawkins had been significantly affected by (the conventional interpretation of) bullying nor peer rejection, but Robert Bonelli seems to be a different case.
If any “Robert” fits in with the school shooting interpretation of the song about “an outcast teenager losing his mind while plotting revenge without any explicit violence”, it’s Robert Bonelli, not Robert Hawkins. The only issue is that he was 24 years old, not a teenager; but Robert Hawkins was practically the same age, being less than a half a year from 20. Anyway, “teenager” was my word, with the Pumped Up Kicks guy always saying “kid” and “youth”.
Robert Bonelli still doesn’t fit in with it better than Evan Ramsey or Michael Carneal would. And Pumped Up Kicks is still a really lame song.
There’s also the fact that he makes mention of Anders Breivik, whom the Sandy Hook shooter did have a pronounced interest in — but, I think that would go along with the territory for anyone making such a spreadsheet, especially at that time (the Norway attack happened just the summer before.)
Anyway, that’s all I have. I think it’s pretty obviously the shooter, but draw your own conclusions.
One other thing of interest is that the recipient of the message (who has since “retired” from Wikipedia) has already realized that the message may have been from the Sandy Hook shooter; about a month after this blog broke the “Smiggles” story, he requested a that a Wikipedia admin run a trace “to check if KnaveSmig’s IP address is located in Connecticut, maybe even the Newtown area.” You can read his back-and-forth with the Wikipedia admin here (the request was denied; as requesting user notes, the Mod is not accurate in explanation for why they believe KnaveSmig is not the shooter, as he is confusing the account with Kaynbred. However I assume the decision not to trace the IP is still appropriate based on his explanation.)
I finished my investigation into the Sandy Hook shooter last year, and so “KnaveSmig” is the last username that I’ll be bringing to light. I’ll have a final update
next weekend (what I was going to post today until this fell in my lap) which will be just an assortment of small things I’ve come across over the last couple years that didn’t warrant bringing up anywhere else.
After that, I’ll just be sharing updates on the status of the book — which should still be out this year, but not soon. I’ll be posting excerpts from it here over the next few months, as well.
*EDIT* 03/05/17 – So much for “next weekend.” But it shouldn’t be long.