The internet is beneficial for many things. It helps connect us with the rest of the world, and it’s a unique tool that gives us instant access at our fingertips.
Yet, the downside of this is that it also enables people to hide behind their computer screens and phones. Sometimes, you don’t even know who you are anymore when you think the internet is dictating who you should be…
“Backwards As Hell”
Going by a different name than his own on the internet, Demetrius Alcala, told people about his sad life. He recalls how he applied to fast-food restaurants and dollar stores but was rejected. Despite having a 3.5 GPA, he dropped out of school in 10th grade because of anxiety and the “backwards as hell” culture at school.
“My Life Sucks”
Alcala said he tried to go back but dropped out again, blaming his abusive family. He called his father a “fat lazy idiot who watches fox news all day” and his mother “a psycho hillbilly drunk from Florida who’s really mentally ill.” For his friends, Alcala said he hadn’t had any since childhood…
It was clear something really disturbing was going on inside of him, and Alcala felt really misunderstood. At the time, he lived in rural New Mexico and he pleaded for advice online on how to fix his miserable life.
Reaching Out For Help
“Look, I’m sorry if I’m rude and hateful or anything, but I don’t know what to do. I’ve lived no life for 19 years, most of which was in the miserable ass sun-belt…Should I escape this dump or deal with it? How can I become polite and make some friends out there in this world?” Over 230 people viewed the post, but no one responded…
Rural New Mexico
In real-life, William Edward Atchison (people called him Bill) lived in a little yellow house with his parents. His home was about a mile away from the gas station where Atchinson worked and close by to Aztec High School.
Atchinson thought of himself as a white supremacist, was a Trump supporter, and had a strange obsession with school-shooters. Most of his life was spent online, repeatedly posting threats of violence and cries for help. The FBI took notice and in 2016, they decided to pay a little visit to Atchison’s home…
Investigated By The FBI
FBI agent Terry Wade said the FBI contacted Atchinson in March 2016 after he made notable comments on an online gaming forum. What Atchison wrote was along the lines of, “If you’re going to commit a mass shooting, does anyone know about cheap assault rifles?”
Closed The Case
The FBI interviewed both Atchison and his family but the case was closed because Atchinson did not have a gun in his possession and he didn’t commit a crime. But, still, his online presence was enough to raise a red flag and make people nervous…
Yet, after the FBI left Atchison’s home, he continued with hateful online posts. One of Atchison’s only online friends, a YouTuber named “Smith,” described Atchison’s posts as edgy, offensive, and shocking. It seemed he would say anything to shock people, but no one actually believed what he said. He was a talker.
But, then, Atchison became even more obsessed with studying mass shooters. He wanted to understand the ideology behind why they did what they did and he developed a huge respect for them. Atchison started to use the display name, “Sam Hyde,” and posted on websites like 4chan and Twitter to dupe the media into sharing false information after mass shootings…
He Wanted To Become A Legend
He even called Carter Boyles the 15-year-old who killed himself at his high school on September 11, 2016, a friend. But, Atchison believed that suicides are not enough to get recognized and become legendary.
“Suicides are ignored…Suicidal people who commit mass murder, however, get the entire world’s attention, garner thousands of fans/fangirls, become a household name and become celebrities.” It was clear Atchison was planning something big and on December 7, Atchison walked into Aztec High School at 8:04 a.m…
Targeting Innocent Children
He disguised himself as a student in order to gain access into the school and he carried a .9mm glock and multiple magazines in a backpack. He shot a student named Francisco I. Fernandez, who had excused himself from class to go to the bathroom, and then Casey J. Marquez, who was walking the halls as well.
It Was A Nightmare
Atchison started firing randomly into classrooms and teachers had to hide their students in offices or storage areas and barricade the doors. Other students were able to avoid being killed by Atchison but Francisco and Casey weren’t so lucky. Atchison wound up taking his own life and then police found a thumb drive on his body that appeared to reference the shooting…
His Killings Were Planned
A message was written less than two hours before the incident where Atchison wrote, “If things go according to plan, today would be when I die. I waited till the school buses are detected then head out on foot disguised as a student. I go somewhere and gear up, then hold a class hostage, then go ape****, then blow my brains out.”
Officers also learned Atchison purchased the gun legally two days before. The school credits a substitute teacher named Kathleen Potter for saving many lives when she barricaded her students in the back of the classroom with a couch. Atchison fired multiple rounds to the wall, but it didn’t hit anyone. Then, there was the custodian Thomas Hill who followed Atchison and yelled at teachers that there was an active shooter on site…
Was Not On Police Radar
After the devastating shooting, police investigated Atchison and San Juan County Sheriff Ken Christesen said, “I don’t think he had anything so much as a traffic ticket.” It was a shame Atchison wasn’t on police radar because he sure was on the FBI’s.
Disturbing Online Presence
His online presence was chilling and if people had paid more attention and taken Atchison’s threats seriously, maybe Francisco and Casey would have been alive today. Terry Wade, FBI special agent in charge in Albuquerque, said Atchison made “generic” comments on a gaming forum but it was determined that no crime was committed. Still, residents searched for answers…
Atchison had more than 40 usernames online which were to offend. Almost all were racist or violent by design and several were modeled after school shooters, including Cho Seung-Hui, Omar Mateen, Adam Lanza, Elliot Rodger, and Anders Breivik.
He also went by the name, “School Shooter” and “Future Mass Shooter.” A man named Ryan Lenz, who monitors hate groups and extremism for the Southern Poverty Law Center said that the cocktail of violent rhetoric, mental illness, and economic despair is what leads to “mobilization,” which is real-life behavior.