“I feel like I’ve lost my son in a couple of different ways,” Kramer, 42, said during an impromptu press conference. “The person who did this at FedEx, I didn’t know. My son was somebody completely different.”
Kramer agreed to speak with media members on the condition that they leave his quiet Acworth neighborhood immediately afterward. He asked that his younger son and ex-wife Tracy be left alone.
A FedEx employee who witnesses described as looking “like Rambo” with ammunition draped across his chest, 19-year-old Geddy Kramer opened fire at a Kennesaw sorting facility filled with about 200 people early Tuesday morning, wounding six people before taking his own life.
Cobb Police quickly named Kramer, a 2013 North Cobb High School graduate who lived with his parents, as the suspect.
According to investigators and witnesses, at 5:54 a.m. Tuesday, Geddy drove a maroon Honda up to the security guard shack at the FedEx sorting facility at 1675 Airport Road by Cobb County Airport - McCollum Field.
After reportedly shooting the guard, he entered the warehouse, where police say he shot another five individuals. After doing so, police say he committed suicide inside a trailer docked on the backside of the business. All of the victims are in various states of recovery.
Friends, family remember Kramer
The news shocked the quiet north Cobb community Kramer called home. He had lived there since at least kindergarten, according to longtime friend Sebastian Maldonado, and gave little indication of what was to come.
On Wednesday, things looked almost normal at the FedEx warehouse. The facility was open for business, a news van outside the only indicator anything was amiss.
In Kramer’s neighborhood, which sits 2.4 miles from North Cobb High School just off Old Highway 41, landscaping crews labored in front yards on a pleasant, although overcast, spring day. Standing across the street from Kramer’s home, Maldonado said he was shocked to learn the news.
“He was one of the first friends I made when I moved here,” said Maldonado, who moved into the neighborhood during fifth grade. “I couldn’t believe it.”
Maldonado is finishing up his freshman year at Reinhardt University, where he is majoring in political science. The 19-year-old had asked a professor to delay his final exam and, knowing the circumstance, the professor obliged.
Maldonado did not confirm media reports Kramer was quiet, a loner or unusual in his choice not to participate in social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
“There’s nothing good on Facebook,” he said, adding that he wasn’t active on the sites either.
Kramer’s senior yearbook lists him only once, in his official senior picture, though he is one of many students with just a single appearance. Maldonado said he did not buy a yearbook his senior year.
CBS Atlanta reported Kramer may have suffered from depression, and interviewed a friend named Lucas Dziedzid, who said Kramer would joke about shooting up his workplace. But it was a far cry from what Maldonado, a good friend of both teens, recalled.
While not condoning his friend’s actions, he said those attacking Kramer simply don’t know him.
“He was happy, outgoing,” said Maldonado. “You’d love this guy.”
Maldonado described Kramer as funny — a normal kid who could make him laugh and brighten his day. He last saw Kramer on Sunday and said Kramer did what any 19-year-old might do as he drove by — made a silly face.
Shock was the only emotion Maldonado felt Tuesday. By Wednesday, he said his emotions finally were catching up to him as he fully took in what had happened. He said Kramer had worked at FedEx since shortly after graduation. He was unsure of what his friend’s long-term goals may have been.
Faced with the reality of the situation, Maldonado could not think of any hint that his friend was capable of committing a violent act.
Father says focus should be on victims
Scott Kramer asked the media to stay away from his family, and not just because of privacy. He said the focus should be entirely on the victims and their families.
“My family is devastated, my family is grieving and my family is confused,” he said. “The victims’ families have my condolences. My wish is for them to get well very soon.”
He said there were no guns in the house and he didn’t know his son had one. Reports have surfaced that Geddy Kramer might have been upset about not getting a day off Friday, but his father said he’d heard nothing about it at home.
He described his son as a typical teenager, moody and quiet at times, but also someone who joked around and sometimes went on hikes with him.
“He was more than those actions,” Kramer said.
KSU professor weighs in
Stan Crowder, an assistant professor of criminal justice at Kennesaw State University, has researched mass shooters and teaches a class about how to profile potentially lethal employees. He said Kramer likely was dealing with issues like anger and rage.
“The motive behind most workplace violence incidents revolves around what’s called an anger-retaliatory behavior that’s evidenced by crime scenes or crimes that reveal a great deal of rage toward a person, group or institution. Or, in this case, maybe the symbol of the company,” he said.
Crowder’s opinion is that mass shooters don’t just “snap,” pointing out the difference between momentary anger and pent-up rage. He noted there usually is careful planning and that shooters usually “dress for the event.” In Kramer’s case, it was his reported “Rambo”-style camouflage and the Molotov cocktails.
Also consistent with Crowder’s thoughts, Cobb police spokesman Mike Bowman said Kramer left a suicide note.
Police were tight-lipped about details of the case Wednesday. They confirmed Kramer used a shotgun, but would not say what size, what type of ammunition was used or how it was acquired when asked. They said the information is not subject to open records because the case is still under investigation, and that it’s not a prosecutable case because it’s a suicide.
Bowman did say shotguns can be legally purchased without a concealed carry permit.
They also would not say if Kramer was under the influence of any drugs during the assault and didn’t comment as to a motive. But Crowder said it’s unlikely in his experience that drugs were involved.
“The offender is acting out on the basis of cumulative real or imagined wrongs,” said Crowder. “Not drugs.”
Crowder said mass shooters typically internalize their thoughts, but not completely. He cited the statements Kramer made to Dziedzid joking about a shooting as a way Kramer might have been testing the waters about his plans.
And while acknowledging statements by Kramer’s father and high school friend about his apparently normal teen behavior, Crowder said they may not have known him as well as they thought.
“Nobody wants to believe the guy you’re working next to in line at Publix or at FedEx is a bad guy,” he said. “Your high school friends, or my high school friends would have a different perception of us than what we are today.”
Crowder also commented on the notion that mass shooters tend to be young, white, male loners. He noted that workplace violence happens across all demographics, but the vast majority of incidents aren’t reported in the media.
However, he said there might be some significance to the loner stereotype.
“These types of people are either asocial or antisocial,” Crowder said. “They are either asocial because they’re perceived as weird or a goofball type, or they’re antisocial and they think they’re better than the rest of us. A lot of times these offenders internalize and if they have people close to them, it’ll be very few.”
Another typical occurrence in a mass shooting is that the suspect shoots himself to end the event, or puts himself in a “suicide by cop” situation. This limits the research that can be done on the mental state of the shooter. Crowder said even in the rare occurrence that the shooter lives, their wrecked mental state clouds any research that can be done regarding motive.
Finally, Crowder noted that while mass shooters tend to carefully plan their attacks, they don’t plan them out very well. Though Kramer was armed with explosives and a shotgun, the explosives were never used.