Neighbors of gun-violence suspect describe joyfully optimistic teen with few friends, other interests

No one is quite sure what motivated Waukesha, Wis., teen Jeremy D. Butler to go on a shooting rampage that killed five people and injured four others on Tuesday, but most agree that it…

Neighbors of gun-violence suspect describe joyfully optimistic teen with few friends, other interests

No one is quite sure what motivated Waukesha, Wis., teen Jeremy D. Butler to go on a shooting rampage that killed five people and injured four others on Tuesday, but most agree that it must have been some kind of personal grievance. A resourceful teenager who had just started a job at a local pizzeria, Butler has been described as a joyfully optimistic young man with a range of interests, many of which had little to do with gun violence. When acquaintances first heard of his arrest, their reaction was that it couldn’t be him, writes Darien Farha.

… he worked part-time at Villa China in the Waukesha Mall, where he was part of a small team that navigated the varying levels of the store with customer service skills. “Everybody around here is at shock,” said Patrick Soon, who worked alongside him on the mall’s cleaning crew. “He just really seemed happy.”

Butler spent most of his time online, according to his neighbor, Adam LaLoret, a former employee at the online sports goods company Action Sports (he said he was fired over two years ago). He accessed a variety of social media accounts in the months leading up to the shooting — displaying his obsession with baseball cards, although one recipient of a private post called it “disturbing” — and subscribed to websites that shared a passion for targets and military weapons.

Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly told CBS that Butler has had multiple run-ins with the law in the past for shoplifting and drug possession, and that Butler may have gotten his .22-caliber weapon at a local gun store, said to be owned by an individual with a reported record of mental illness. Sheriff’s deputies reportedly found an unloaded gun in Butler’s bedroom, but said that there was no record of a background check or any other form of screening.

And then there’s the website of Cabbage Patch Kids creator Russell Bergmark. A page for a Jeremy Butler wearing a pink knit hat and one that describes him as a “Party Machine!” is on the site.

Butler had reportedly set his .22-caliber assault weapon on fire and thrown it out the window. His father told reporters that his son had recently taken an interest in Jodie Marsh, a popular former British TV model, and his Facebook post described Butler’s ambitions to break away from Jodie Marsh and become a famous female fitness model.

Leave a Comment