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Gun Assault Was on 'Nazis,' Killer of 7 Tells Jury

April 12, 2002|From Associated Press

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A man who is pleading insanity in the killings of seven co-workers testified in the most matter-of-fact way Thursday that he thought he was killing Adolf Hitler and his Nazi henchmen as part of a divine mission to save the world from the Holocaust.

Michael McDermott--a hulking, 43-year-old man with a bushy black beard and long, shaggy hair--said that, 12 days before the shooting rampage at Edgewater Technology in Wakefield in 2000, the archangel St. Michael appeared and told him how to earn a ticket to heaven.

"The whole idea was to prevent Nazi supremacy," the software engineer said.

"I felt great. For the first time in my life I felt I could achieve what everyone takes for granted--that I could have a soul and go to heaven."

He also told the jury that he had once attempted suicide, that he had been raped as a boy, and that he heard voices in his head.

Prosecutors say McDermott planned the slayings in retaliation for the company's plan to withhold some of his wages to pay $5,600 in back taxes.

Prosecutor Tom O'Reilly asked McDermott if his two decades of experience with the fantasy role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons made him a skilled storyteller who could concoct tales.

"It's not so much concocting as having fun, participating in a group fantasy," McDermott replied.

McDermott calmly described how he walked through his office, firing his AK-47 rifle and a shotgun. He said he had been transported in time to Hitler's Berlin bunker in 1940, and saw Nazis, not colleagues.

"There were two men and a woman in front of me. Both of the men had swastika armbands. I immediately shot both of the men," McDermott said.

He said he shot three more "Nazis" when he heard "Hitler's thoughts" coming from the accounting office.

"The last Nazi was there. I shot and killed him. And Hitler was there. I shot and killed him," McDermott said. "My mission was complete. I knew at this point I had a soul."

He then returned to the office reception area, where he was arrested. He told the jury that he died at a Berlin police station from a combination of painkillers and vodka he downed before the shootings.

The testimony came before a courtroom packed with relatives of the victims.

McDermott acknowledged under questioning that he had bought a book, "Clinical Assessment of Malingering and Deception," which helps detect when someone is faking mental illness, and had downloaded Internet material about faking psychological disorders.

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