A teenager wearing disconcerting, plastic earlobe-stretchers wanders through the food court, carrying a half-empty bottle of purple Vitamin Water and looking dazed. On his black t-shirt, beneath the words “THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER” (a rock band), is a picture of a caped man slashing a woman’s throat. The kid, who doesn’t want his name used, is on a break from his job at a clothing store, he says. He seems both reluctant to talk and helpless not to as he goes on to tell us that he has two friends who were wounded at Century 16, one in the leg, one in the chest. He quickly assures us they’re doing “fine” now. “I was going to the premiere, but I’m glad I didn’t,” he continues. “I was going to go with my friend, but, like, she sprained her ankle as she was getting ready, so we had to cancel. I don’t know, I wouldn’t say I’m depressed, but it just feels so weird that, like, if that hadn’t happened to her, I could have been dead.” We ask him about the red-and-gray tattoo on his upper arm and learn that it’s the symbol of something called the “Umbrella Corporation” from the video game Resident Evil.
What about those violent video games? Does he think they’re partly to blame for any of the recent bloodiness? “He just seemed like someone who was bullied,” the kid says of Holmes, admitting to feeling bad for the suspect. His tone is growing philosophical. “We have the power to correct things like this; we just need to become more caring people,” he says, which sounds like a sentiment from the “Mean Stinks” ad that’s playing on a screen about 20 feet away.
So who’s the person on his shirt, we ask?
“Jack the Ripper,” he says.