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The deranged among us

And how to spot them

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Details are still emerging about Cho Seung-Hui, the 23-year-old English major believed to have gunned down 32 people at Virginia Tech before killing himself. One thing professors and students knew unequivocably: That dude was weird.

When I was in college, the "weird dude" was a guy whom rumor had it brandished a gun at his friend and threatened to rape her. The friend didn't press charges because she wanted him to get professional help. Not long after, he broke out of a hospital's mental ward, drove across the state and fired shots at her house.

Rumor had it she pressed charges that time.

In the interest of public service, Creative Loafing would like to offer few ways to identify a person in your school, office, apartment building, etc., who's at risk of taking out a few bystanders on his way to hell:

1. Learn to differentiate the shy recluse from the sociopathic loner. The shy person simply doesn't talk much; the loner doesn't talk much because he's engrossed in old copies of Soldier of Fortune magazine.

2. If your dateless and bitter friend insists on reminiscing about high school girlfriends as if they just dumped him last week, beware. That was sad even when you both were still in college, but when he's pushing 40 and hasn't gotten laid since Reagan's second term, you better start talking to him about counseling. At the very least, make sure he's not a very good shot.

3. If your co-worker speaks admirably of Eric Rudolph or routinely retires to the bathroom with a copy of both The Berenstain Bears New Kitten and Thank You, President Bush: Reflections on the War on Terror, Defense of the Family, and Revival of the Economy, put in for a job transfer.

4. If your next door neighbor suddenly announces that the late G.G. Allin would have been the most underrated musical and cultural genius of our time if he hadn't been such a pussy, you might want to consider breaking your lease. If you own your home, put it on the market and take the first offer.

5. Remember: The homicidally crazy often don't advertise their angst. Forget about the friend who without fail calls you sobbing on Saturday at 3 a.m. -- they're just screwed up.

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