14 year old Nathon Brooks has been charged with the attempted murder of his parents in Washington State after they…wait for it…grounded him from using electronics for two weeks. Even better, he later told police that he played violent video games constantly and blamed their influence for his actions.
“He said he quit playing violent video games because he thought they were making him more violent,” Moses Lake police Sgt. Mike Williams noted in the incident report. “I asked him how much he played video games, and he told me ‘24/7,’ up until he got his electronics taken away.”
According to police reports and surveillance footage from inside the house, Brooks pried open his father’s gun safe, and took the .22 caliber pistol into his parent’s bedroom. It was there that he shot his mother, and father multiple times in the head, but not before they were able to call 911.
A local hospital has discharged Brooks’ father and has his mother listed in stable condition. Fortunately, despite playing large amounts of violent games, Nathon was unable to kill his parents after multiple shots to the head. But that hasn’t stopped the blame from falling onto video games.
Not only have many mainstream media reports focused on the police quote above, they’ve also drawn pretty clear comparisons back to the gun violence debate going on in Washington D.C. and the recent massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. Because that’s what they’ve been trained to do – focus on the scapegoat.
Never mind the fact Brooks has also claimed that he heard voices in his head repeatedly telling him that he could do whatever he wanted if his parents were dead. Never mind he says he’s considered killing them since age 8. Never mind that he was investigated by police in 2010 over allegations he had molested a girl (when he was 11!). Never mind that he was grounded in the first place for stealing his father’s credit card and that his behavior problems at home and in school had gotten bad enough that his parents installed cameras IN THEIR OWN HOME so they could keep an eye on him.
Clearly video games are the culprit. Yes. Clearly.
What instead seems clear to me, as noted by Jim Sterling over on Destructoid, is that not only has the media learned to shift focus and blame onto violent video games, so have the killers. Even if psychologists walk away from this kid saying he’s not clinically insane, he’s definitely competent enough to blame video games himself to shift the focus.
Is that what we’ve let happen? We’re so willing to shake blame and a bit of societal introspection that we’ll give attempted murderers some leeway if they admit to the topic of the hour?
Please say no, America. Please. Be better than that this time.