Chances are that the recent mass shooting in New Mexico wasn’t on your radar or even covered by your local news channels, and if it was, I can almost guarantee that the report was fluffed up with such phrases as “lone wolf” and “a very sick man.” Shootings have become so common that they’re often missed by news cycles.
It’s no surprise that we’re living in a time where even the most horrifying news is misinterpreted. During the largest mass shooting in U.S. history, somehow the news focused their attention on all the positive aspects of the “lone wolf’s” life rather than putting the emphasis on the victims.
William Edward Atchison, the gunman behind the New Mexico shooting, was branded as someone who was off the local police’s radar. The entire town of Aztec, New Mexico, couldn’t have been more surprised when Atchison, an attendant at a local gas station, disguised himself as a student at his former high school and killed two innocent students before turning the gun on himself.
But for those familiar with Atchison’s online activities, it wasn’t a matter of if he would conduct a mass shooting, but when.
While in his real life Atchison had no criminal record, online the 21-year-old had a prolific history as a white supremacist with a huge obsession with school shooters.
Over the course of the last five years, Atchison took to large platforms and more obscure forums and chatrooms to post racist memes, threats of violence, as well as cries for help. He went by more than a dozen usernames including “Adam Lanza” and “Future Mass Shooter.”
On one of his most frequented websites, EncyclopediaDramatica, a Wiki-like site where users describe memes and jokes in great detail, Atchison went by the username “Satanicdruggie” and willingly volunteered his time as a SysOp administrator.