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Psychologist weighs in on San Carlos Park killings

Dr. Peggy Mustelier shares her perspective
Posted at 1:25 AM, Nov 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-05 16:35:59-04

SAN CARLOS PARK, Fla. — What would lead someone to kill two people and then barricade himself inside a home with children?

Many in the community are asking that after it happened in San Carlos Park early Thursday morning.

Fox 4 asked a psychologist, not associated with the case, to watch our coverage on and give us her take.

Here is a transcript - edited for clarity and length.

WFTX: When you see this story, I know you're not directly connected to it, what do you see in the big picture? Does it remind you of things you've seen before?

DR. PEGGY MUSTELIER/PSYCHOLOGIST: It definitely, unfortunately, looks like a pattern of violence that escalated. These things do not occur in isolation. It's usually on a continuum. And it usually escalates more and more to the point of murder.

WFTX: But then to put children in jeopardy, by barricading himself inside with the children. I think most people look at that and say, "Is there any limit for this person?"

DR. PEGGY MUSTLIER/PSYCHOLOGIST: I was kind of wondering that myself. It's almost as if they're a human shield. That was the sense I had. His barricading himself with the children, to me suggested, it seemed more like cowardice. That was my thought, my association. In other words, he figured with kids in the house, they were less likely to start shooting, that was my thought. When I've heard in situations kind of similar in some of my work in the past, it usually involved the use of drugs, or something that dis-inhibited the person further. And if it is, very often, there is poor impulse control in these situations.

WFTX: Is that as shocking as it seems or do we often see children caught up these situations?

Dr. Peggy Mustelier/PSYCHOLOGIST: Sadly one way or another, when there are children involved, one way or another, they are impacted.

WFTX: What do you think is happening here, where you see these situations where somebody is harmed or even killed, children are involved, and then barricaded inside home and have to be talked to out, what's the bigger picture of seeing more and more of this?

DR. PEGGY MUSTELIER/PSCYHOLOGIST: That's a really interesting question. I haven't thought of it and, yet, it makes perfect sense. We've been under a lot of stress and there are certain things you start to observe when societies are in stress. In this case, having a pandemic.

WFTX: Someone who might be seeing this story, might be enduring what they see as a "manageable" domestic violence situation. What would you tell them in light of this story

DR. PEGGY MUSTELIER/PSYCHOLOGIST: : If you have any doubts and wonder if you are in an abusive situation, get help, consult. Whatever it is. Don't just to dismiss it because it seems normal to you. We tend to normalize as a defense. We tend to rationalize things. When it doubt, find out.

If you suspect you or someone you know needs help, you can find a shelter in your county by clicking on this link.