It is not simply school shooters who have been found to be under the influence of or withdrawing from, psychiatric drugs. There are also documented cases of stabbings and other senseless acts of violence where the perpetrator was under the influence of psychiatric drugs documented to cause side effects including, psychosis, mania, hostility, aggression, and in some cases, homicidal ideation.
Fact: At least 37 school shootings and/or school-related acts of violence have been committed by those taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs resulting in 175 wounded and 82 killed (in other school shootings, information about their drug use was never made public—neither confirming nor refuting if they were under the influence of prescribed drugs). The most important fact about this list is that these are only cases where the information about their psychiatric drug use was made public. (See full list below)
The below list includes individuals documented to have been under the influence of psychiatric drugs and not only includes mass shootings but the use of knives, swords, and bombs. 27 international drug regulatory agency warnings cite side effects including mania, violence, psychosis, and even homicidal ideation.
- May 1, 2017 – Austin, Texas: Kendrex J. White, 21, stabbed four people with a machete-like hunting knife at the University of Texas, killing one and wounding three. The stabbings occurred within a one-block area as the attacker “calmly walked around the plaza,” according to the chief of police. After he was arrested, White told police he did not remember the attack. The police department said that White had recently been involuntarily committed in another city, and county records showed that he had been arrested and charged with a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) on April 4, 2017. When an officer spoke to him, White said he had taken two “happy pills,” listed as the antidepressant Zoloft.
- November 20, 2014 – Tallahassee, Florida: 31-year-old Myron May, a Florida State University alum, opened fire in the school’s library where hundreds of students were studying, wounding three before he was shot and killed by police. According to May’s friends, after going to see a psychologist because of trouble concentrating, he had been prescribed the antidepressant Wellbutrin and the ADHD drug Vyvanse, a combination that can cause paranoia. He started acting strangely and hearing voices, convinced that he was being spied on. He then checked himself into a mental health center called Mesilla Valley Hospital around September 2014. Shortly after this, his friends discovered a new pill bottle among his prescriptions, the antipsychotic Seroquel. In addition, ABC Action News found a half-filled prescription for the antianxiety drug Hydroxyzine in his apartment after the shooting.
- June 5, 2014 – Seattle, Washington: 26-year-old Aaron Ybarra opened fire with a shotgun at Seattle Pacific University, killing one student and wounding two others. Ybarra planned to kill as many people as possible and then kill himself. In 2012, Ybarra reported that he had been prescribed the antidepressant Prozac and the antipsychotic Risperdal. A report from his counselor in December of 2013 said that he was taking Prozac at the time and planned to continue to meet with his psychiatrist and therapist as needed. His lawyer said Ybarra had a long history of mental health issues. The county prosecutor said he was taking Prozac and Risperdal up to six months prior to the shooting but had stopped taking them.
- April 25, 2014 – Milford, Connecticut: 16-year-old Chris Plaskon stabbed Maren Sanchez, also 16, to death in a stairwell at Jonathan Law High School after she turned down his prom invitation. According to classmates and a former close friend, Chris was taking drugs for ADHD.
- October 21, 2013 – Sparks, Nevada: 12-year-old Jose Reyes opened fire at Sparks Middle School, killing a teacher and wounding two classmates before committing suicide. The investigation revealed that he had been seeing a psychotherapist 3 days before the shooting and was prescribed an antidepressant. He had a generic form of the antidepressant Prozac (fluoxetine) in his system at the time of death, police said.
- January 15, 2013 – St. Louis, Missouri: 34-year-old Sean Johnson walked onto the Stevens Institute of Business & Arts campus and shot the school’s financial aid director once in the chest (he survived), then shot himself in the torso. Johnson had been taking prescribed drugs for an undisclosed mental illness.
- October 24, 2011 – Snohomish County, Washington: A 15-year-old girl went to Snohomish High School where police alleged that she stabbed a girl as many as 25 times just before the start of school, and then stabbed another girl who tried to help her injured friend. Prior to the attack the girl had been taking “medication” and seeing a psychiatrist. Court documents said the girl was being treated for depression. 
- September 21, 2011 – Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: 14-year-old Christian Helms had two pipe bombs in his backpack when he shot and wounded Socastee High School’s “resource” (police) officer. However, the officer was able to stop the student before he could do anything further. Evidence showed that he was planning an attack similar to the Columbine High School shooting and had even made a list of who he was going to kill. Helms had been taking drugs for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and depression.
- December 13, 2010 – Planoise, France: A 17-year-old youth held twenty pre-school children and their teacher hostage with two swords for hours at Charles Fourier preschool. The teen was reported to be on “medication for depression.” Eventually, all the children and the teacher were released safely.
- February 5, 2010 – Huntsville, Alabama: 15-year-old Hammad Memon shot and killed another Discover Middle School student Todd Brown. Memon had a history of being treated for ADHD and depression. He was taking the antidepressant Zoloft and “other drugs for the conditions.” He had also been seeing a psychiatrist and psychologist.
- September 23, 2008 – Kauhajoki, Finland: 22-year-old culinary student Matti Saari shot and killed 9 students and a teacher, and wounded another student, before killing himself. Saari was taking an SSRI and alprazolam (Xanax). He was also seeing a psychologist.
- April 24, 2008 – Fresno, California: 17-year-old Jesus “Jesse” Carrizales attacked an officer at Fresno high school, hitting him in the head with a baseball bat. After knocking the officer down, the officer shot Carrizales in self-defense, killing him. Carrizales had been prescribed Lexapro and Geodon, and his autopsy showed that he had a high dose of the antidepressant Lexapro in his blood that could have caused him to be paranoid, according to the coroner.
- February 14, 2008 – DeKalb, Illinois: 27-year-old Steven Kazmierczak shot and killed five people and wounded 21 others before killing himself in a Northern Illinois University auditorium. According to his girlfriend, he had recently been taking prescribed drugs Prozac, Xanax, and Ambien but had stopped taking Prozac three weeks before the shooting. Toxicology results showed that he still had a trace amount of Xanax in his system. He had been seeing a psychiatrist.
- November 7, 2007 – Jokela, Finland: 18-year-old Finnish gunman Pekka-Eric Auvinen shot and killed eight people and wounded a dozen more at Jokela High School in southern Finland before committing suicide. He had been taking antidepressants.
- November 7, 2007 – Tyler, Texas: 17-year-old Felicia McMillan returned to her former Robert E. Lee High School campus and stabbed a male student, and wounded the principal with a knife. McMillan had been on drugs for depression and had just taken them the night before the incident.
- October 10, 2007 – Cleveland, Ohio: 14-year-old Asa Coon stormed through his school with a gun in each hand, shooting and wounding four before taking his own life. Coon had been prescribed the antidepressant Trazodone.
- January 19, 2007 – Sudbury, Massachusetts: 16-year-old John Odgren stabbed another student to death with a large kitchen knife in a boy’s bathroom at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School. In court, his father testified that Odgren was prescribed the drug Ritalin.
- December 4, 2006 – North Vernon, Indiana: 16-year-old Travis Roberson stabbed another Jennings County High School student in the neck, nearly severing an artery. Roberson was in withdrawal from Wellbutrin, which he had stopped taking days before the attack.
- August 30, 2006 – Hillsborough, North Carolina: 19-year-old Alvaro Rafael Castillo shot and killed his father, then drove to Orange High School where he opened fire. Two students were injured in the shooting, which ended when school personnel tackled him. His mother said he was on drugs for depression.
- April 24, 2006 – Chapel Hill, North Carolina: 17-year-old William Barrett Foster took a shotgun to school and took a teacher and a fellow student hostage at East Chapel Hill High School. After being talked out of shooting the hostages, Foster fired two shots through a classroom window before fleeing the school on foot. Foster’s father testified that his son had stopped taking his antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs without telling him.
- November 8, 2005 – Jacksboro, Tennessee: Kenneth Bartley, 14, a student at Campbell County Comprehensive School, shot and killed the assistant principal and wounded another assistant principal and the principal. He was taking Xanax at the time of the shooting. Just before the shooting, Bartley had also snorted a crushed Valium pill.
- March 21, 2005 – Red Lake, Minnesota: 16-year-old Jeff Weise, on Prozac, shot and killed his grandfather and his grandfather’s girlfriend then went to his school on the Red Lake Indian Reservation where he shot dead 5 students, a security guard, and a teacher, and wounded 7 before killing himself.
- February 9, 2004 – Greenbush, New York: 16-year-old Jon Romano strolled into his high school in east Greenbush and opened fire with a shotgun. Special education teacher Michael Bennett was hit in the leg. Romano had been taking the antianxiety drug Xanax. He had previously spent time in a psychiatric care facility.
- June 8, 2001 – Ikeda, Japan: 37-year-old Mamoru Takuma, wielding a 6-inch knife, slipped into an elementary school and stabbed eight first- and second-grade students to death while wounding at least 15 other pupils and teachers. He then turned the knife on himself but suffered only superficial wounds. He later told interrogators that before the attack he had taken 10 times his normal dose of antidepressants. Police said he had been under the care of a psychiatrist.
- April 10, 2001 – Wahluke, Washington: Sixteen-year-old Cory Baadsgaard took a rifle to his high school and held 23 classmates and a teacher hostage. Three weeks earlier, his doctor had switched Baadsgaard’s prescription from Paxil to Effexor. The morning of the incident, his dosage of Effexor had been increased. Baadsgaard said he had no memory of the incident.
- March 22, 2001 – El Cajon, California: 18-year-old Jason Hoffman, on the antidepressants Celexa and Effexor, opened fire on his classmates, wounding three students and two teachers at Granite Hills High School. He had been seeing a psychiatrist before the shooting.
- March 7, 2001 – Williamsport, Pennsylvania: 14-year-old Elizabeth Bush was taking the antidepressant Prozac when she shot at fellow students, wounding one.
- February 2, 2001 – Red Lion, Pennsylvania: 56-year-old William Michael Stankewicz entered North Hopewell-Winterstown Elementary School with a machete, leaving three adults and 11 children injured. Stankewicz was taking four different drugs for depression and anxiety weeks before the attacks.
- January 10, 2001 – Oxnard, California: 17-year-old Richard Lopez went to Hueneme High School with a gun and shot twice at a car in the school’s parking lot before taking a female student hostage. A SWAT officer eventually killed Lopez, who had been prescribed Prozac, Paxil and “drugs that helped him go to sleep.”
- May 20, 1999 – Conyers, Georgia: 15-year-old T.J. Solomon was being treated with the stimulant Ritalin when he opened fire on and wounded six of his classmates.
- April 20, 1999 – Columbine, Colorado: 18-year-old Eric Harris and his accomplice, Dylan Klebold, killed 12 students and a teacher and wounded 26 others before killing themselves. Harris was on the antidepressant Luvox. Klebold’s medical records remain sealed. Both shooters had been in anger-management classes and had undergone counseling. Harris had been seeing a psychiatrist before the shooting.
- April 16, 1999 – Notus, Idaho: 15-year-old Shawn Cooper fired two shotgun rounds in his school, injuring one student. He was taking a prescribed antidepressant and Ritalin.
- May 21, 1998 – Springfield, Oregon: 15-year-old Kip Kinkel murdered his parents and then proceeded to school where he opened fire on students in the cafeteria, killing two and wounding 25. Kinkel had been taking the antidepressant Prozac. Kinkel had been attending “anger control classes” and had previously been under the care of a psychologist.
- October 1, 1997 – Pearl, Mississippi: Luke Woodham, 16, shot and killed two students at Pearl High School and wounded seven others after beating and stabbing his mother to death. Public reports said the boy was taking Prozac. In June 1998, Woodham was found guilty of two counts of murder and seven counts of aggravated assault and was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences for the murder convictions and seven 20-year sentences for the aggravated assault convictions.
- October 12, 1995 – Blackville, South Carolina: 15-year-old Toby R. Sincino slipped into the Blackville-Hilda High School’s rear entrance, where he shot two Blackville-Hilda High School teachers, killing one. Then Toby killed himself moments later. His aunt, Carolyn McCreary, said he had been undergoing counseling with the Department of Mental Health and was taking Zoloft for emotional problems.
- December 16, 1993 – Chelsea, Michigan: 39-year-old chemistry teacher Stephen Leith, facing a disciplinary matter at Chelsea High School, shot Superintendent Joseph Piasecki to death, shot Principal Ron Mead in the leg, and slightly wounded journalism teacher Phil Jones. Leith was taking Prozac and had been seeing a psychiatrist.
- September 18, 1992 – Houston, Texas: 44-year-old Calvin Charles Bell, reportedly upset about his second-grade progress report, appeared in the principal’s office of Piney Point Elementary School. Bell fired a gun in the school and eventually wounded two officers before surrendering. Relatives told police that Bell was an unemployed Vietnam veteran and had been taking anti-depressants.
For more information read Another School Shooting, Another Psychiatric Drug? Federal Investigation Long Overdue
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