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Oakland school shooting: Is there a lesson to be learned from the tragedy?

As police put together possible motives for the Oakland school shooting, a profile is emerging of frustration and despair that has a familiar ring to some experts.

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Police officers speak to bystanders near the scene of a college shooting in Oakland, Calif.

Stephen Lam/Reuters

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Would a school counselor have detected the shooter’s mounting frustrations before he attacked? Should students have reacted more forcefully in their own defense?

As more details trickle out about the shooting rampage Monday morning that claimed the lives of six students and a receptionist at Oikos University in Oakland, criminologists, behavioral experts, and others are trying to glean possible patterns and lessons from the episode.

Police say they have established several ostensible motives – from the suspect having been teased for bad English, to his despair over the recent deaths of two family members, to a combination of factors.

Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan told reporters Tuesday that the suspect – a South Korean national, 43-year-old One Goh – had recently been expelled from the university, for his apparent inability to curtail his own anger. He said Goh was being congenial with police interrogators but showed no regret for the murders.

Several students, interviewed on NBC, said that Goh, being from South Korea, didn’t fit in because of the language barrier.

Six of the victims were women, foreign nationals from Nepal, Korea, the Philippines, and Nigeria.

“This shooting does seem to be a rather typical ‘going postal’ killing, [with] many similarities to other shootings … indebtedness, depression, alienation … [a] sense of injustice and hopelessness,” says Emil Chiaberi, director of the 2010 documentary film, “Murder By Proxy: How America Went Postal,” via e-mail.

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