Psychiatrist fears latest SM incident a 'copycat shooting'

By David Dizon,

Posted at Sep 21 2011 11:38 AM | Updated as of Sep 21 2011 11:11 PM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - A psychiatrist fears Tuesday's mall shooting in SM Pampanga involving 2 minors might have been a copycat of the shooting incident in SM North EDSA last week.

Dr. Bernadette Manalo-Arcena, consultant psychiatrist of the St. Luke's Medical Center, said last week's shooting incident involving a woman who killed her husband and a security guard might have laid the seed for one of the minors in Tuesday's incident to commit suicide publicly.

"Kasi ang mga bata ay napaka-vulnerable sila sa mga nakikita nila sa paligid. There is a possibility there na yung time na yun siguro nakita niya o naisip niya 'Ah, makakakuha ako ng atensyon kapag ito ang gagawin ko.' At titignan din natin yun sa puntong nalungkot sila. Both of them had been in a state of depression at tindi ng pagseselos. Kasi pag nandun ka na sa ganung stage, ang hirap kontrolin ng iyong emotion," she said in an interview on ABS-CBN's "Umagang Kay Ganda."

"Copycat syndrome or copycat suicide. Kapag nakikita ang isang tao na gumagawa ng ganitong pangyayari, there is a condoning feeling na ok pala kung ganito ang gagawin ko," she added.

On Tuesday, a 13-year-old boy shot his alleged lover, a 16-year-old boy, in the head before turning the gun on himself while inside SM Pampanga. Both boys were declared brain dead Wednesday morning.

Initial investigations showed that the 13-year-old boy planned the shooting, based on his posts on his Facebook page prior to the incident.

Authorities said the 13-year-old wrote the name of another person, whom they believe he was jealous of, on his T-shirt.

“Parang mayroong third party na involved dito. May pinagseselosan. Katulad nung sa T-shirt [na suot nung biktima], mayroon siyang minumura,” said Supt. Wilson Santos of Mexico, Pampanga police.

Santos added that a suicide note was recovered from the younger victim, saying he was willing to die with his companion.

A card was recovered from the 16-year-old, which gave details about their relationship.

Pathological jealousy

Arcena said the 2 shooting incidents could both be cases of pathological jealousy. In last week's shooting, the woman said she wanted to kill her husband and then herself after her husband left her for another woman.

"In the first incident, the husband works for the mall. It's sensationalized when its done in a public area. Minsan kasi ang isang taong talagang sobrang galit o mataas ang emosyon gusto nilang ipaalam sa publiko kung ano ang nararamdamam nila na parang binalewala sila ng kanilang mga partners," she said.

She also noted that family plays an important role in recognizing the symptoms of pathological jealousy especially among minors.

"Ang tinatatawag na pathological jealousy pag ito na lang ang ginagawa mo. You are so focused and preoccupied sa iyong pagseselos na wala ka nang ibang ginagawa at umabot ka na sa gumagamit ka na ng weapons. That is really something dangerous already," she said.

She added: "Family and social environment, dapat talaga may nagmomonitor sa kanila lalo na ang mga kabataan. At the stage where they are in their teenage years napaka-vulnerable nila sa lahat ng bagay. Self-identity, self-discovery. Ano ba talaga ang direksyon mo sa buhay?"


How did boy get a gun?

Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay, meanwhile, lamented the recent shooting incident and urged police to focus their investigation on how the 13-year-old shooter got hold of the weapon.

"Not a week since a woman was able to smuggle in a weapon into a mall to kill her erstwhile husband, we hear of another incident wherein another gun was able to pass through security. What's more alarming is that the gun was in the possession of a 13-year-old," she said in a statement.

Magsaysay said that police should train their investigation not only on the motives of the killing but also on how easily a child could take possession of a deadly weapon.

"Who was the owner of the weapon or who sold it to him (the child)? What will be their liabilities because we have laws governing the possession of firearms in the country, and this should be strictly implemented," she said.

"The investigation should not stop with determining what happened but also on how it happened."


Shootings show gaps in mall security

A police official, meanwhile, said the recent shootings show possible gaps in the SM malls' security.

Senior Superintendent Buenaventura Viray Jr., deputy chief of the Philippine National Police Supervisory Office for Security and Investigation Agencies, said the recent shooting incidents show the need to review security plans of SM malls.

"This is an indication that there are gaps in the security measures. They need to review and evaluate the private security agencies, specifically the security guards because they are the ones who implement the measures. Maaaring dagdagan ang security systems like CCTV, x-ray or electronic access door," he said.

Viray said SM Malls management outsource their security requirements to private security agencies. Each SM Mall has a security plan based on the survey done by the agency.

Viray said his unit is now investigating the security agencies of SM North EDSA and SM Pampanga to determine if there were lapses in supervising security personnel that implement the security measures in malls.

Magsaysay, meanwhile, said mall owners should be held liable for these shooting incidents since firearms are strictly prohibited in places such as malls.

"It is their responsibility to ensure the safety of mallgoers. That is why these security checks are there in the first place. However, if these checks prove unreliable, where can our people feel safe? If malls fail to implement their security procedures, how can we be sure that lawless elements will not be able to sneak in weapons and the commit crimes of a larger scale on mall premises?" she said.