Cities breed their own patholo­gies, and homi­cide is a pre­dom­i­nantly urban form of law­less­ness. But mass murder, in fact, is not. When James Alan Fox, a crim­i­nol­o­gist at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity who has written exten­sively about extreme killing, com­piled homi­cide data from across the country for 1976 to 2010, he found that 64 per­cent of mass mur­ders — defined as any instance in which four or more people were killed more or less at the same time — had occurred in places with pop­u­la­tions of less than 250,000

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