Murder and mayhem: Is this the kind of country we are?

Sneed: More than 600 mass murders this year, one of them reminiscent of a grisly Chicago slaughter

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A supporter of Club Q attends a ceremony Wednesday in Colorado Springs.


It’s been quite a November.

Especially at night.

Victims everywhere. All of us.

Mass murder has become so frequent in America it’s becoming mundane.

And among the recent slaughter, one stands out as vaguely familiar.

Stay with me.

On Nov. 12, four University of Idaho students in the state’s small town of Moscow were brutally murdered in an off-campus dorm-like residence.

To date, no one has been arrested. The investigation is now veering toward a possible stalker; the killer may have targeted at least one of the victims; a murder knife may have been a possible military weapon.

What seems familiar? The case of the eight Chicago student nurses knifed and strangled to death in 1966 by Richard Speck, an itinerant sailor able to gain access to their dormitory-like complex; murder each one by one; killing his last victim upon her return from a late-night date.


Richard Speck murdered eight nurses in Chicago in 1966. He died in prison in 1991.

Sun-Times archives

A Filipino nurse, Corazon Amurao, who survived Speck’s slaughter by hiding under a bed, was able to identify him after his arrest nearly five days after the slaughter due to a “Born to Raise Hell” tattoo on his arm spotted by an emergency room doctor after Speck tried to kill himself.

This journalist didn’t cover the Speck trial, but I did cover Amurao’s heroic return from the Philippines to a Chicago courtroom years later to try to legally stop Speck from selling his prison paintings while serving a life sentence; eight consecutive terms of 50 to 150 years.

A victim forever, Amurao returned to Chicago still terrified of a night of bloody evisceration in 1966 — surrounded by guards in and out of the courtroom and her flight back home to the Philippines.

Speck died in prison of a heart attack at age 49 on Dec. 5, 1991.

November’s mass murder stats have upped the nation’s bloody ante to 600-plus this year according to the Gun Violence Archive.


  • On Nov. 13, three members of the University of Virginia football team were fatally shot and two other students injured at a campus parking garage in Charlottesville, Virginia, allegedly by an ex-UVA football player who shot one of them in their sleep.
  • On Nov. 19, a gunman, allegedly Anderson Lee Aldrich, who attorneys identified as “nonbinary,” opened fire in a popular LGBTQ bar in Colorado Springs, Colorado, killing five and wounding 19 others with a ghost gun on what was a “Transgender Day of Remembrance.” Aldrich’s anti-gay sentiments were noted by those who knew them. The alleged shooter was taken down by an Army veteran and a trans woman at the Club Q bar.
  • On Nov. 22, as Americans began heading home for Thanksgiving, Andre Bing, a 31-year-old night manager at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia, shot and killed six co-workers before turning the gun on himself. He was described as keeping black tape over his cellphone to keep the government from watching.

Violence. Disorder. Mayhem. Guns galore in the hands of people with serious mental health issues.

Even U.S. Army Veteran Richard Fierro, who heroically tackled and subdued the Colorado Springs Club Q gunman, sounded like a victim himself when breaking down during his dramatic explanation of what drove him into the frenzy of heroism, sounding like the hero he was … but a lot like a victim himself, a soldier suffering the aftereffects of post-raumatic stress disorder for serving multiple military stints in Iraq.

In the midst of describing his quick reflex to grab a “handle” on the shooter’s military-style “ACU pattern flack vest,” Fierro talked about the “Fight or Flight” reaction to a threat.

Fierro told the press: “I tend to fight ... don’t know whether that is good or not. I saw the shooter. I grabbed him. His rifle flew in front of him. I told him, ‘I’m trying to kill you man. You tried to kill my family.’ I kept hitting him in the head and then I told someone else to keep hitting him in the head.”

Then dissolving into tears, a very emotional Fierro said: “Your training in war zones … in combat … it lives with you, man. You do this stuff that’s in you. I’m not a G.I. Joe. I’m a normal guy. This stuff stays with you. Look at me. I’m crying, man,” he said. “My daughter and wife shouldn’t have experienced combat that night. In war, you just get in the next patrol. You are done. No one had the opportunity (at Club Q) that night to get into the next patrol.”

Trust me.

We are now a nation of victims held hostage in the most powerful nation in the world.


Bow wow: Seven of the “longtime” residents of Chicago Canine Rescue known as “The Great Eight,” dogs that are part of a campaign to find them a special someone to love, are still waiting. Will someone rescue one of the now redesignated “Great Seven” — Dixon and Mornay and Tater and Octavia and Nigel and Sophie and Chloe — who need out of their cages and into someone’s heart? … Saturday birthdays: actor Peter Facinelli, 49; former Bolingbrook mayor Roger Claar, 77, and singing legend Tina Turner, 83. Sunday birthdays: actress Robin Givens, 58; author Caroline Kennedy, 65, and engineer Bill Nye, 67.

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