Spree: A Muddled Concept
In Australia on April 28, 1996, Martin Bryant used a semiautomatic rifle to kill the two owners of Seascape guesthouse before he drove to the Port Arthur tourist area. He entered a crowded café. In about 15 seconds, the troubled 28-year-old fatally shot 20 people and wounded 15. He went out to the parking lot to shoot more. He got into his car, drove a short distance, shot again, stole a car, took a hostage, and returned to the guesthouse. From there, he shot people driving by and killed his hostage. Overnight, the police surrounded him. When the building eventually went up in flames, Bryant emerged and was arrested. Police found three bodies inside. Bryant’s total number of victims was 35 dead and 23 hurt or wounded. He was not suicidal, but he was mentally ill, had a low IQ, and had suffered recent stresses. Some criminologists call him a mass murderer; others say he is a spree killer. He qualifies as both. Therein lies confusion.