Criminal Justice

Why Didn't Anyone Tell Police About Pittsburgh Health Club Shooter's Website?

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A law firm systems analyst described in detail his troubled thoughts on at least one one website before going on a fatal shooting rampage at a suburban Pittsburgh health club this week that may have been triggered by his apparent anger at being rejected by women.

So why didn’t anyone try to warn police? Experts speculate that no one read what 48-year-old George Sodini wrote or, if they did, discounted what he said.

“Even one person who read that would probably have alerted authorities. There must have been no traffic on that site,” general counsel Christine Jones of tells the Associated Press. The website is the world’s largest domain registrar, overseeing about 36 million of the world’s 100 million or so registered domain names.

Likewise, those who encountered Sodini in person probably discounted any disturbing behavior—and people also are less adept at reading interpersonal cues, now that online interactions, rather than face-to-face encounters, have become so ubiquitous in our society, partner Carolyn Wolf of the Abrams Fensterman law firm in New York tells the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“People probably noticed weird behavior but didn’t really know what to do with it,” says Wolf, whose firm specializes in mental health issues. “People don’t trust their gut instincts as much as they used to because they’re not interacting as much as they used to. So they second-guess themselves, or they decide not to deal with it.”

Ironically, despite oft-expressed concerns that there is little privacy today, the sheer volume of material on the Internet and the isolation that Web-based social interactions may encourage can make a troubled individual virtually invisible, experts say.

Superintendent Charles Moffatt of the Allegheny County police said Wednesday that investigators intend to try to find out if anyone saw Sodini’s online diary in time to foil his attack on the health club, the AP reports. Sodini committed suicide after the Tuesday evening attack in which he killed three women and injured nine other individuals.

A New York Post article provides links to the full text of Sodini’s online diary and one of the videos that have surfaced in which he also expresses troubling thoughts.

Additional coverage: “Gym Gunman, a Systems Analyst at K&L Gates, Told of Plans in Online Diary”

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