Another Mass Shooting in Georgia

Right after a loser in Oregon shot up a community college, another one killed his family and himself here in exurban Atlanta:

“No, nothing’s going on,” Rebecca Manning told Forsyth County deputies Tuesday night.

Despite the argument neighbors saw and heard, Manning said nothing had happened between her and her estranged husband, the sheriff’s office said Wednesday. Hours later, she and her two sons were dead and her father critically injured, allegedly because of her husband’s actions, according to authorities.

You can write the story yourself: weak, violent man is thwarted; weak, violent man gets one of the millions of guns just floating around Georgia; weak man kills family and self. Depressing, awful, not even worth writing fiction about, all because it’s the script that weak, violent men act out at least once a day in America.

There are two types of this sort of mass shooting incident, both represented here. The guy in Oregon was the young, awkward but “intelligent” in a very narrow sense guy, whose creepy misogyny drives women away but whose lack of social skills make it impossible for him to figure out quite why. He’s steeped in bad science fiction and fantasy, where the geeky smart guy is ultimately awarded a hot girl, but despite his delusional self-regard, women actively avoid him. He thinks the Reddit Red Pill and Pick-up Artist advice techniques are actually helping. Sooner or later, the cognitive dissonance between his vivid fantasy life and his prosaic real one with its mediocrity turns to violence; and in America, violence means multiple deaths from gunshot wounds instead of “just” a knife or club.

The killer of Rebecca Manning and her sons is the second type: about forty, also pretty much a failure: an angry, stupid and fundamentally very weak man whose masculinity is incredibly fragile. He pushes his way through the weak(er) people around him, but when his personal or legal chickens come home to roost, he lashes out, because he needs to erase the witnesses to his humiliation. And again, since we’re awash in guns, this erasure is permanent in four out of five cases.

Entitled, thwarted beta males are a public health threat of the first magnitude. But what can we do about it? Change models of masculinity, and do something about guns.

With respect to fiction, the only angle I can think to pursue is to tell the story from the wife’s perspective. Why does she fail to protect her children when she has the chance?

Domestic Violence Isn’t a Story Any More

Here’s another story of a thwarted man who chose to kill innocents.


Four people were killed in a shooting Wednesday morning in Forsyth County, which is about 40 miles northeast of Atlanta.

We’ve also learned the shooter has at least two felony convictions in his criminal history.

The shooting occurred just after 6 a.m. Wednesday in the 5500 block of Old Atlanta Road in the Suwanee area.

When deputies arrived on scene, three people were found dead inside a home.

Forsyth County Sheriff Duane Piper said that the gunman, Matthew Fields, committed suicide. Rebecca Manning, was shot, along with her two sons, Jared and Jacob Smith. Jared was 8 and Jacob was 9.  Both boys were dead when deputies arrived.

Rebecca Manning later died at the hospital.

Rebecca Manning’s father, Jerry Manning, was also shot and is listed in critical condition at the hospital.

Police said Fields is Rebecca Manning’s husband, but family members said they were never married. Fields is not the father of the children. The father of the children was identified as Robbie Smith, who lives a few miles from the home.

Authorities said the shooting is domestic-related and there was never any harm to the public. Sheriff Piper said officers were familiar with the residence and had been at the home before.

CBS46 dug into the criminal record of gunman Matthew Fields and learned he was arrested several times. Fields was arrested for probation violation in 2005. Prior to that, we found a 2004 felony arrest for forgery, a felony arrest in 2003 for burglary and charges related to leaving the scene of an accident in 2006.

Deputies were there Tuesday night for a report of a domestic dispute outside the house that was called in by passing drivers.  Fields was not on scene when deputies got there and Rebecca Manning refused to press charges.

Suwanee is exurban Atlanta: middle-class single-family homes, for the most part. Forsyth County was traditionally one of Georgia’s centers for racist violence: this is one of the issues in my story Cross Lap Joint. But this story has nothing to do with race: everyone in it is white. It’s just another story of a loser man who, seeing that his antisocial behavior is about to result in serious consequences, uses the guns handed out like candy to erase everyone he’s shamed before erasing himself.

As a crime writer, it’s hard to work with material like this. The plot is a cliché: Fields almost got tagged with domestic violence charges, couldn’t handle the stain on his “honor”, had a rare vision of the next forty years of increasingly downscale life, and instead of just taking himself out, chose to murder his wife and kids first. The “family annihilator” is just one facet of American life right now: guns, entitlement, thwarted masculinity. Hard to come at it from the character angle, also: there’s nothing appealing or even distinctive about Fields. A man killing his female partner isn’t even really news anymore.

The only angle that might inspire a story is that the children’s poor father lives a few miles away. Let’s all take a moment to share a little sympathy for Robbie Smith, who we know absolutely nothing about other than that his two little boys are dead. Now imagine a story that takes the same structure and tell it from the father’s point of view. Let’s say that Dad (and note: we are not talking about poor Mr. Smith here) has his issues, and reproduced way too young like people in these situations always do, and despite the ruined relationship with his ex, does what he can to keep the peace and stay in his sons’ lives. And he doesn’t like his ex’s new boyfriend, and not just because the new BF is sleeping with the ex: maybe he knows about the BF’s criminal record, or maybe he doesn’t care for the BF’s influence on his sons, or maybe, still better, he just doesn’t like the BF for unclear reasons. But he knows he can’t bring it up with his ex, like she’s going to listen to him. Then the domestic violence incident happens, and knowing that intervention will likely be counterproductive, he decides not to intervene. Now it’s a story.