The D.C. sniper was executed yesterday for the murder of Dean Harold Meyers. In all ten people were killed by sniper fire in the D.C. area in the Fall of 2002. The region’s residents spent twenty three days in fear until the shooters were finally captured. What was so terrifying in this case was the sheer randomness of the shootings. Walking the dog, buying groceries, or simply getting gas could get you killed. Such crimes violate just world beliefs – the sense that the world is a fair. Victims of random crime can sometimes be derogated by observers who want to distance themselves from thoughts of being victims themselves. New research by Van Zomeren and Lodewijkz (2008) shows that such random senseless violence does generate greater self-concern but should not influence observer’s concern for victims. The execution yesterday may represent justice, but it seems like small comfort to the grieving families of the victims and those who are still affected by the fear and anxiety induced by the sniper’s killing spree.
Van Zomeren & Lodewijkz (2008)
DC area relives terror as sniper’s execution nears