Shayne Riggleman's bloody rampage last Monday did not surprise some people. Learning what sparked the 22-year-old Monongalia County man to kill five people and injure two others seriously is important. So is asking the obvious question: Could the violence have been prevented?
Authorities have credited Riggleman's ex-girlfriend, Brittany Harwood of Pennsylvania, with tipping them off about the murders. After shooting five people to death at a house near Morgantown, Riggleman went to Harwood's house and asked her to leave with him. She refused and called police after he left. Riggleman traveled south on Interstate 79, shooting another man at a Roane County gasoline station and using his car to run down a woman. He killed himself in Kentucky, after a sheriff's deputy pursued him.
Harwood told a Morgantown reporter she was terrified of Riggleman. He had threatened to go on a killing spree, she added.
Other acquaintances of Riggleman noted his personality could change in an instant from happy to violent.
Riggleman was on probation after spending slightly more than a year in the state's correctional facility for youthful offenders. He was sent there after he and another man mugged a West Virginia University student in 2007. Riggleman hit the young man during the robbery.
His time on probation was not uneventful. A probation officer told The Dominion Post of Morgantown Riggleman was called in Aug. 29 to discuss "domestic issues" and received a warning. According to the newspaper, the officer said Riggleman "mostly tested negative for drugs" while on probation.
That "mostly" should raise eyebrows.
Harwood said she called police about two weeks ago to tell them Riggleman had threatened to kill one of the people he indeed did murder. She was told police could do nothing about the threat.
Hindsight is 20/20. However, clearly, there were strong indications, expressed in a variety of ways to several people, that something was seriously wrong with Riggleman. But was this a situation in which dots should have been connected to show a pattern that should have prompted the authorities to intervene?
Law enforcement officials should mount an investigation to learn whether Riggleman should have been taken into custody before he began killing.