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OC Rampage Killer's GPA: 0.62

During his short stint at Saddleback College, Ali Syed of Ladera Ranch failed class after class.

Before a murder-suicide rampage that left four dead and three wounded last week, gunman Ali Syed failed most of his classes at Saddleback College, according to the school's Lariat student newspaper.

In the fall of 2010, his first semester at the campus, he flunked all three of his classes: introductory courses in economics, world history and geography.

From there, Syed took eight classes. He failed six of them, leaving him with a cumulative GPA of 0.62, an F average.

  • Hear the 9-1-1 call from Syed's parents

In spring 2011, he retook world history and passed with a B grade. He took economics twice more before passing with a C in spring 2012. Those were his only grades higher than an F, according to the school paper.

Most of Syed's classes were in history and geography, but he took two psychology classes too.

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His only class this semester was in computer repair, his first computer course at the school. His teacher said the 20-year-old Ladera Ranch resident was showing signs of promise in the course.

Do you think Syed's classes and grades tell us anything about him? Tell us in the comments below.

JustUs February 27, 2013 at 06:07 AM
Oh, so the kid had problems? Gee, what a surprise. What's the high school graduation rate at Santa Ana Unified? 50%? Why not do an article on that? Bad grades rarely turn somebody into a mass murderer. If they did we wouldn't be able to leave our homes and be safe.
Peter Schelden (Editor) February 27, 2013 at 06:20 AM
It's an interesting question, KC.
JustUs February 27, 2013 at 06:20 AM
Btw, did the administrators and educators note Syed's poor academic performance and set up a meeting with a counselor to determine his problem and try to get him some help? Often poor grades are a symptom of some serious, serious problem. Maybe Syed was crying out for help that no one would give him? Ever think of that?
Peter Schelden (Editor) February 27, 2013 at 06:23 AM
Interesting point, J.U.
M February 27, 2013 at 02:57 PM
He was an adult, why didn't he seek help for himself? No need to place blame on others for what was going on with him.
John February 27, 2013 at 05:35 PM
Please? Look at this lost, broken, kid. Obviously some serious problems going on. At twenty years, on paper, he is an adult. But, piece the situation together...crappy grades, probably few friends of influence, hours in front of violent video games and possible prostitutes coming to the house...duh? Seems the parents should have known what was going on with their son and if he was that messed up provide the help he needed, no matter how old. The DA parents were clueless as to juniors issues or, they just did not care. From what I hear on the 911 tapes it sounds like they warehoused him down below somewhere and had no idea of his actions...they provide him with a shotgun and who knows what else. The blood is on the parents hands too...albeit the kid is ultimately responsible but the peeps are right there with him. Sounds harsh, but it would have been way better to just keep the violence under one roof... alot better for all the poor Innocent folks killed, wounded and scared by one crazy A-hole. Just my opinion.
JustUs February 27, 2013 at 05:45 PM
"He was an adult, why didn't he seek help for himself? No need to place blame on others for what was going on with him." Because the nature of emotional or psychiatric illness often shuns help, M. That's when it's society's role to step in and prevent tragedies like this from happening. You folks cry like 3 year olds when these tragedies happen. And in 90% of the cases it's because someone with mental illness is not getting the treatment that they need. All the symptoms are there - like in Syed's case with a pattern of academic failure at college. But you turn a blind eye to that and mask it with the label "freedom", yet you are the first to complain when they act out. You can't have it both ways. You either address the one side or you get the other. Don't complain if you fail to do anything to prevent it from happening.
JustUs February 27, 2013 at 05:58 PM
The parents were probably all stressed out too with the mother facing charges of hit and run of a small child. The entire household was likely in the state of dissary. That's why it's really important for our school systems to monitor academic performance of it's students. If a student's grades begin to fall apart it's incumbent upon the administration to view this as a red flag and intervene by setting up a meeting between a school counselor and the student in a non-threatening environment. 18-25 is a very delicate age for the onset of schizophrenia. And failing grades are a huge symptom. A trained counselor can see the signs immediately, while parents may think nothing of it.
MFriedrich February 27, 2013 at 07:06 PM
Even if we assumed the school system and teachers did their jobs to a 'T', the parents bear some responsibility. How many times do we have to read about parents ignoring emotional and social problems of their children and hoping they'll mend themselves? And maybe we can do some simple deduction too, like: No job + Poor grades + a young child or young adult playing Call of Duty for 12 hours straight in the basement weeks on end = official red flag warning sign?
Panglonymous February 27, 2013 at 07:07 PM
Probation Academic Probation A student who has attempted at least 12 semester units at Saddleback College is placed on academic probation when the earned grade point average in all units attempted is less than 2.0. Progress Probation A student who has enrolled in at least 12 semester units at Saddleback College is placed on progress probation when the percentage of units in which he or she has enrolled and for which entries of "W," "I" and "NP" are recorded reaches or exceeds 50 percent. It is the responsibility of a student who has been placed on academic or progress probation to confer with a counselor regarding the probationary status and/or to use services provided by the college including basic skills courses, tutoring services and faculty conferences. The college reserves the right to require special counseling and regulation of the student's program on the basis of his or her achievement. http://www.saddleback.edu/media/pdf/handbook.pdf http://www.saddleback.edu/counseling/
JustUs February 27, 2013 at 07:47 PM
"It is the responsibility of a student who has been placed on academic or progress probation to confer with a counselor regarding the probationary status and/or to use services provided by the college including basic skills courses, tutoring services and faculty conferences." This is where the system is flawed and perhaps indirectly responsible for what took place. A student with onset schizophrenia is going to experience extreme hardship in maintaining adequate performance in the classroom with a disorganized mind. This causes grades to plummet. The nature of schizophenia shuns help from others and oftentimes does not understand the progression of the disease. Alot of personal guilt may result - as the schizophrenic blames him or herself for the failure in life that they experience. They withdraw from society. And then the anger builds. Some act their anger out like Syed did. Syed may very well had a brain malfunction that could have been treated if recognized. Often it take a professional to recognize it. That is where the school should come in. Putting the onus of burden on a sick mind to get help is both incompassionate and unrealistic. Wake up.
Panglonymous February 27, 2013 at 07:54 PM
Seems likely this would have kicked in given his record: "The college reserves the right to require special counseling and regulation of the student's program on the basis of his or her achievement." Would be interesting to know, anyway.
JustUs February 27, 2013 at 07:55 PM
"Even if we assumed the school system and teachers did their jobs to a 'T', the parents bear some responsibility." Syed's parents had major difficulties of their own with the mother facing hit and run charges related to a 4 year old child. Many parents simply don't understand the nature of mental illness or it's symptoms. Many might have considered Syed's behavior as that of a young man searching for his identity and purpose in life. You have no idea how unsophisticated most parents are at detecting hints of mental illness. That is why we rely heavily on professionals (especially in school settings) to detect symptoms of mental illness and to either contact the parents or put the student in touch with medical professionals who could help him. Imagine how scary it must be for an 18-25 year old not being able to organize his or her thoughts and not to be able to communicate in a normal fashion with other people. The outcome is generally isolation. And it just gets worse from there. We rely on our school system to detect these abnormalities, especially in student who have a pattern of failure academically.
Panglonymous February 27, 2013 at 08:21 PM
Hey, Peter, I've got a suggestion for a weekly contest feature: Best Understatement In Comments Dangle some pizza in front of us savages and let's see what shakes out... ;-)
John February 27, 2013 at 10:30 PM
So...it's the school's problem...yea, right. lol who knows the kid better...or should know em better. I am stickin with the crappy parenting and their general lack.
Kathi February 27, 2013 at 10:31 PM
Well, he was failing at doing much of anything productive that might lead to a career possibly, except the computer repair class. Now a lot of kids w that kind of record would have dropped out & tried something else, but it seems he kept at it. Did his parents have expectations of him entering a profession? Of course if he was spending most of his time on violent video games he likely wasn't studying & was living in an alternate reality. W that record though, the future probably did not look very bright to him--not much to look forward to. Not enough by itself, but coupled w other things it probably made a difference & might have tipped him over the edge.
John February 27, 2013 at 10:43 PM
Oh darn, mom and dad are stressing...so, buy junior a shotgun and "call of duty." As a parent I make it my business to understand any condition my kids may be dealing with...that comes with the job. With so many bizzare and random shootings going on these days a decent parent might want to check for red flags before providing a lethal weapon to a whack job...no brainer!!
Kathi February 27, 2013 at 10:44 PM
Well, yes, 1st it was his responsibility 1st. But as some have pointed out, maybe he wasn't functionally able to get himself out of his downward cycle. So parents have responsibility & long before he got to college. I would guess that maybe in HS it was similar, although maybe not. & the school also should step up & try to get him some help. W the classes he was taking & the failure he experienced, I'm guessing that maybe those were courses his parents wanted him to take to meet their expectations. & he wasn't really that interested in those courses. Hard to tell about his intellectual capabilities--whether his grades were because of lack on intellect or lack of interest. Wonder if there was a clash of cultures also w parents begin of a culture that expected dutiful sons who did what their parents said & he being raised here? having a S OC mentality of entitlement?
JustUs February 27, 2013 at 10:49 PM
I think everyone is missing the point here. Poor grades are often symptomatic of larger issues in a student's life. This kid may well have had an onset of schizophrenia, where his disorganized thought process was the cause of his poor grades. Another article stated that he seemed to be a nice and polite young man. I haven't read of any previous contacts with law enforcement. For a seemingly good kid to suddenly go off like this should send up huge red flags. The parents were embroiled in their own messy circumstances. And I read nothing about the school inquiring into why Syed's academic life was failing. So the kid was left twisting in the wind, so to speak. This is what happens when problems are ignored. They get bigger.
OC Mom February 28, 2013 at 02:46 AM
Very possible that he was learning disabled. He could have had Aspberger's also. This is an epidemic in our male population. There are a lot of learning disabled kids out there who are able to hyper focus on video games. It could also be possible that he was just a slacker who was enabled by his parents. I'd be interested to hear if information is released about his High School experience. Waiting to read a more comprehensive article or see an interview like the PBS investigative report I watched on Adam Lanza. With the explosion of learning disabilities and Autism since the 1990's unfortunately we may be experiencing an epidemic of violence even if guns are removed from the equation. Knives, ropes, rocks and other things can be used to kill as well. There is a generation of men growing up who may not be able to be completly self sufficient or live independently, yet many people are more concerned about watching the latest reality show or tv program rather than figuring out if vaccines, GMO's or some other environmental cause is to blame for the epidemic we now face.
JustUs February 28, 2013 at 03:37 AM
Maybe he got too many vaccine shots as a child. Who knows?
Panglonymous February 28, 2013 at 05:30 AM
Conservatively, 50.01% of the population is 'functional' but socially/emotionally maladjusted. The walking wounded. (Ever wonder why the zombie theme is so persistently popular? Me neither.)
fact checker February 28, 2013 at 06:18 AM
Maybe he was offered help.
JustUs February 28, 2013 at 06:25 AM
If he was offered help certainly someone would have said so. Now that he's dead there is no confidentiality requirement.
fact checker February 28, 2013 at 06:38 AM
Not necessarily. Contrary to your beliefs, not every detail about every person is available in the news or on the Internet.
JustUs February 28, 2013 at 06:57 AM
But this was a big story and there's no reason now to withhold that news if it was true. So I believe if it happened that we would know about it.
John February 28, 2013 at 01:18 PM
Alot of inviornmental triggers in the last few decades...way more autism, aspberger's etc...and zombies too. Don't smoke the round up...whilst tuning in to swamp loggers.
Peter Schelden (Editor) February 28, 2013 at 06:03 PM
It's an interesting idea, Pan. ;-) But then, I'm sure I couldn't give the prize to myself, could I?
Panglonymous February 28, 2013 at 08:14 PM
What's the use of being boss if you can't declare yourself the winner?
Pam Ragland March 04, 2013 at 11:43 PM
Several issues here. 1) The schools SHOULD take responsibility for helping ID issues with kids, which parents are otherwise not trained to ID or understand. It sounds like someone knew that with Saddleback's policy--yet was it followed? 2) Schools are woefully inept at ID'ing issues with kids. It took YEARS to ID my son as Autistic, after a major trauma brought on symptoms. Since I've become an expert, developed an innovative & effective new treatment to help Autistic kids be more normal. Yet I've offered to TRAIN OUR SCHOOL FREE & they haven't done it. Schools need to be open to help to solve issues, not ignore them. 3) Few parents realize how dangerous video games are. They are literally conditioning the child's habits to automatically repeat what is in the "game". Parents think because other kids do it & it's called a game, it's safe. Instead it has become a coping mechanism to help kids get through life. (Next stop, drugs.) Gameboy supressed a study that showed video games damage the emotional center of a child's brain, causing a lack of empathy. It was released in Germany & I learned about it from a child development professor at Stanford & verified it. The issue is complex. Blaming the boy only means we'll repeat it, as we have not solved the real problems.

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