By Jason DeRusha

By Jason DeRusha, WCCO-TV

The crime was shocking. The smiling face of Michael Richard Swanson, a St. Louis Park 17-year-old, on his way to a hearing after being charged with killing two store clerks in Iowa.

But could anyone have seen this coming?

Tonight’s Good Question is about violent crime, and whether we have any ability to predict it in a person.

I know, it sounds very Tom Cruise/Minority Report, where the futuristic policeman can predict crime and arrest criminals before they act.

I wonder: when do young people flip from good to bad? Is it usually at a particular age? What are the signs? Drugs? Bedwetting? Bullying?

Why do some teens turn their lives around, and others end up smiling on their way into court? Hope you’ll tune in at 10.

Comments (14)
  1. Ben Siegel says:

    There’s a spelling error 😉 to vs two. My mom taught him in the St Louis Park Jr High, its so weird

    1. janna says:

      Wow – its only 12:19 and the spelling error is already fixed! That’s great to see!

      1. Jason DeRusha says:

        It’s fixed thanks to Ben! I appreciate the heads up.

  2. Kate says:

    There’s more kids out there like this… read up on sociopaths and you’ll see, there’s not much the system can do for them.

  3. Ian says:

    Let’s not be too quick to judge, Rob. We can’t exactly blame the parents… yet… Eventually someone will interview them and then we can make that call. As for seeing more and more cases like this each year, a number of things could be to blame, whether it be television, music, celebrity influence (hey, they always get off easy!), or a variety of other things.

  4. Bryan says:

    This is so sad to see and hear. What a long and horrible life this young 17 year old wil have if he doesn’t change it around. I hope someone or something makes a big enough effect on his mind to know he must change.

  5. LT says:

    I agree we cant blame the parents for example i robbed a house when i was 10. but it wasnt because my parents did not raise me right. I did it becasue i wanted to fit in and was hanging out with the wrong person, my parents always made sure i knew right from wrong. this kid chose to do this not his parents. he has free will and a brain to decide what he does.

  6. Wendy says:

    Unless you are one of those unfortunae parents raising a child (young adult ) like this you have NO idea the kind of hell this kid can reep on a household. Please don’t judge the parents until you have concrete proof that they are the problem manifesting itself thru the actions of this guy. No matter how hard you try how much you talk how many consiquences some kids are hell bent on NOT caring about anything but themselves. Yes these kinds of kids really do walk among us. Until they have the sudden eye opening of DAMN I REALLY HAVE BLOWN IT they will never change. Some NEVER do change they have learned to like the negative attention. Why none of us may ever know the answer to this. To the families in IA that he has devastated none of the bantering from the public is going to bring their loved ones back for the up coming holidays that is what everyone should be thinking about.

  7. JR says:

    Nicely said wendy. I would say friends have the biggest influence over teenagers. So it’s a good idea for parents to get to know the friends however obnoxious they might be. Some parents don’t want their kid’s friends over at all which is understandable but it’s part of parenthood. Spend time with kids and their friends. And please don’t blame movies or video games. A video game doesn’t influence someone to shoot someone in the face.

  8. Brad says:

    I think most abuse victims, whether the abuse is bullying, parental or otherwise, feel pain, not anger. When it does end in violence, it is sadly almost always suicide, not murder. When I was bullied, I never contemplated revenge.

    You want signs? The book’s been written. They’re the same as the signs for suicide, plus anger. Try helping all troubled kids, rather than just watching for the ones about to reach for a gun. At that point, we have already failed them.

  9. EzmereldaQ says:

    Rob – how dare you! How can you make comments like this when you know NOTHING about this family or what they have done to help their son. What would you do if your child was mentally ill and you spent years fighting to get him the help he needs. How would you feel if people said these things about you and your child? You need to grow up and learn compassion. This young man needs to pay for his crime and he will – but people like you add nothing constructive to situations like this.

  10. EzmereldaQ says:

    It makes me sick that the media and other people seems to think that they can make statements and pass judgement without having the facts. Right now you only know a very small portion of what has all transpired to bring this situation to pass. You may ask why the parents of this young man haven’t made a statement… and I ask, put yourself in their situation – would you be running out to talk to the media? Or would you be mourning that your child took the lives of two innocent people and that you have also lost your child forever?
    Society needs to stop and think before passing judgements on situations they know little or nothing about.

  11. ERIN says:

    My 17 year old son was best friends with Michael in preschool. Michael was diagnosed at a very young age (3 or 4) with some very serious behavior disorders (most likely genetic in origin). His parents are very good people, and-from everything that I could see–very good, committed parents.

    Michael used to come to our house to play, but I had to quit inviting him because of his tendency to be destructive. He was very cute , but very unpredictable. He has two brothers that, as far as I know, are totally “normal” (whatever that means). His problems are not due to “bad” parenting, too many video games, access to guns, lack of stability in the community or home, or whatever.

    I’m the mother of three sons myself, and I know how hard it is to parent, especially when there are other developmental issues involved (such as ADHD, which my teenage son has). I can’t imagine what Bob and Kathy Swanson have had to endure all of these years, but I know that they have my total support, concern, and love. Any one of us could be in their shoes…

  12. linda says:

    It’s a very sad situation for all involved-even the young killer. One thing I’m pretty sure of- he won’t be smiling or laughing when he meets Bubba in prison.

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