Psychologists and scholars of the news media said that although copycat events were always possible, the likelihood of one school attack leading to another was probably a bit less than it was a few years ago.So "some experts" are skeptical. But "some experts" are also unnamed. That's not terribly helpful. Moving on, there's Loren Coleman, who wrote a whole book on the subject: The Copycat Effect: How the Media and Popular Culture Trigger the Mayhem in Tomorrow's Headlines. Naturally, he has a blog, which touts some relevant findings:
Some experts said they were not sure that the copycat phenomenon was real.
-- copycats follow a regular temporal pattern that repeats - these could be after a primary media event in a day, a week, two weeks, a month, a year, ten years—vulnerable humans have internal media clocks...Coleman argues that a school shooting in Essex, Vermont on August 24, 2006, really did inspire a wave of copycats—he lists them all and notices certain patterns. Okay, but if we want to be strict here, this just means that all of these shootings, occurring in a short time span, had some things in common. It doesn't necessarily mean that the first shooting caused the subsequent shootings (or that Student X would have never gunned down his classmates had it not been for, say, Columbine). Or that overblown media coverage was the culprit. Still, Coleman might well be onto something.
-- copycats imitate the previous violent attacks, oftentimes down to specific details as that mirror the previous specifics of the shooter, the victims, and the methods.
-- "celebrity" events have a far-reaching impact and modeling effect—so, of course, Columbine serves as a dark cloud over many school shootings.