Tragic Case of Ralph Tortorici

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The film we watched was a Frontline documentary about the tragic case of Ralph Tortorici called A Case of Insanity. On December 14, 1994 Ralph went into a lecture hall with a rifle and a hunting knife taking the whole classroom hostage. He demanded to speak to President Clinton, and threatened to kill the hostages if they did not comply with his demands. Ralph was calm towards the students held hostage and demanded people from outside to gather food for them. 19-year-old Jason McEnaney attempted to wrestle the rifle out of Ralph’s hands, but this caused the to go off and he was shot in the genital area. Several students attacked Ralph and held him until the police came in and arrested him. Ralph was taken to jail with 14 counts of …show more content…
As a child, Ralph was very intelligent, athletic and was very popular, but in his teen years Ralph started becoming more aggressive towards his family. Ralph was born with a defective urethra and had gone through multiple operations to fix it, and as he become more delusional he felt that during one of his operations, the government placed microchips throughout his body (PBS). Ralph went to go see a psychiatrist and asked to be given an x-ray and when the x-rays came up negative, he continued to believe that the microchips were still inside him and he felt that the psychiatrist was on the government’s side as well. He later went to the police complaining about the micro chips inserted in his body and was sent to the same psychiatric center. Ralph’s paranoia schizophrenia also made him depressed, fearful and anxious. Tortorici became addicted to drugs and used them to escape from his paranoia. His addiction became a huge concern because his mother said “He started doing drugs again and he locked himself in the bathroom to smoke crack” (PBS). After various tests, doctors came to the conclusion that Tortorici dealt with a great amount of depression, suicidal ideas and he had tested positive for cocaine (PBS).
The prosecution was only able to obtain one doctor. Dr. Siegel was the only psychiatrist that would agree to meet Ralph
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