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Boozing 27 year-old chokes mom over WoW

This is a sordid story, no matter how you slice it. In short, an adult male violently attacked his family when he was asked to stop his loud drinking and WoW gaming session so the children in the same room with him could sleep. Because of the violent nature of the events, I am putting the details after the break.

There are two main sources for this story: The Dreamin' Demon and The Herald Tribune, but they have slightly different versions. From what we can determine, here are the facts:
  • James Swan, 27, lives at home with his mother, several small children and his grandfather in Florida.
  • Around 10pm last Thursday night, Swan was drinking alcohol, playing WoW and being loud in the same bedroom as several small children.
  • His mother asked him repeatedly to stop.
  • Swan took his mother by the hair and threw her on the bed.
  • He then took his young son or brother (here is where the stories conflict) and threw him on the bed too.
  • His mother ran off to call 911.
  • He ran after her, pulled the phone out of the wall and put his head into the wall.
  • He then began to strangle his mother (Edited to add: She survived.)
  • His grandfather, unable to stop him, got his gun and and there was a struggle.
  • The grandfather shot Swan in the head. It either grazed his head or entered without exiting. (Again, conflicting reports.)
  • Swan was arrested and refused treatment.
I think it's obvious that several factors contributed to this crime:

  1. Alcohol: It reduces your inhibitions. Now, we usually think of reducing inhibitions as in how that helps us behave in social situations, hopefully leading us to happy endings. But alcohol also reduces inhibitions to committing violence. In fact, alcohol is the catalyst for the majority of domestic violence.
  2. Mental health issues: We don't know why Swan is living at home. The economy is still rough and he may have fallen on hard times. Or he may have mental issues that keep him from taking care of himself. Regardless, this level of violence requires something more than just a bad temper and a couple of beers.
  3. Behavioral addiction: The kind of addiction that people can get to WoW or the internet is similar to a gambling addiction. And though it is not a physical addiction such as alcoholism or heroin addiction, behavioral addictions are often used as substitutes by physical addicts. Some experts say, however, that video games do affect the same pleasure areas of the brain as do alcohol and drugs. Please seek professional help if you or someone you love are showing signs of addiction, such as missing work/school to play WoW or violent tendencies when asked to stop.
Of course, Blizzard and their MMO is not to blame in this story and it is likely that the same incident would have happened if this were 30 years ago and Dukes of Hazzard were substituted for WoW. Hopefully justice will be done in James Swan's case and that his family can recover from such a horrific event.

[Via True Crime Report]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items

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