Another article regarding recent fire bombings
One cites Grand Theft Auto computer game
By DOUG NURSE / www.ajc.com / Published on: 08/07/08
Milton police on Thursday arrested three teenagers on 57 felony counts connected to the firebombing of three cars with Molotov cocktails â€” devices one boy said he learned to make by playing the Grand Theft Auto computer game.
Police Chief Chris Lagerbloom said three boys, a 15-year-old and 16-year-old from Milton and a 16-year-old from Cumming, will be charged with first- and third-degree arson, first- and second-degree criminal damage to property and possession of explosive devices.
Milton police and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated the firebombings that occurred overnight July 24. Seven Molotov cocktails were made. Two Mercedes and one Honda Accord were burned, three devices missed their target and one was found unused.
Grand Theft Auto is a computer game series that has been blamed for inciting juvenile crime sprees in the United States and globally, including murder and carjacking, police said.
"This case is another strong example of the serious ramifications that can come from letting impressionable teens play violent video games like this one," Lagerbloom said. "We urge parents to pay particular attention to their children's extracurricular activities and to intervene before it's too late."
If the boys had been adults, they would have faced federal prosecution. Lagerbloom said the kids thought the firebombings would be fun. "They did it for the entertainment value," he said. "Their parents were reasonably shocked."
Police said they found checkout videotape of three youths buying Sprite in a glass bottle, red garage rags and Coleman lantern fuel. Police showed the video to local high school officers, who identified the youths.
None of the boys has been in trouble with Milton police before, Lagerbloom said. They were in the Fulton County juvenile detention center Thursday with a pretrial hearing set for today.
At least one expert Thursday night disputed the alleged a link between video games and criminal behavior.
There is no evidence such games are responsible for violent behavior for the typical child, said Lawrence Kutner, co-director of the Center for Mental Health and Media at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
"If you look at the whole population, youth violent crime had gone down dramatically since the 1990s while playing computer games has gone up exponentially," Kutner said.
"It may be that a kid attracted to criminal behavior is also attracted to violent games," he said. "You can't make the simple statement that if you expose a kid to violent games, then he'll become violent in the real world."