#25: The Worst Campus Shootings In American History

Table of Contents:

The Worst Campus Shootings In American History
Shooter Seung-Hui Chou—Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Blacksburg, Virginia—33 killed and 17 wounded—April 16, 2007
Shooter Adam Lanza—Sandy Hook Elementary School—Newtown Connecticut
28 killed and 2 wounded—December 14, 2012
Shooter Charles Whitman—University of Texas, Austin
18 Dead—31 Injured—August 1, 1966
Shooter Nicholas Cruz—Stoneman Douglas High School—Parkland Florida
17 dead, 17 wounded—February 14, 2018
Shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold—Columbine High School—Littleton, Colorado
15 killed—21 wounded—April 20, 1999
Shooter Dimitrios Pagourtzis—Santa Fe High School, Santa Fe Texas
8 killed—13 wounded—May 18, 2018
Shooter Christopher Harper-Mercer—Umpqua Community College
Roseburg, Oregon
Ten Killed—Nine Wounded—October 1, 2015
Shooter Jeff Weise—Red Lake Senior High School—Red Lake Minnesota
Seven Killed—Three Wounded—March 21, 2005
Shooter One L. Goh—Oikos University—Oakland California
Seven Killed—Three Wounded—April 2, 2012
Shooter Patrick Edward Purdy—Grover Cleveland Elementary School—Stockton California
Six Killed—Thirty-Two Wounded—January 17, 1989
Shooter Brenda Spencer—Cleveland Elementary School—San Diego, California
Two killed—Nine injured—January 29, 1979
Gunfire on School Grounds in the United States


This blogsite focuses on gun violence on American campuses. This particular report is harrowing at every level. Defining one case of gun violence as “worse” than any other case seems meaningless. Why is one campus shooting “worse” than previous shootings in the 19th Century and the first half of the 20th Century on American school campuses? There were thirty-three campus shootings in the 19th Century. The first half of the 20th Century brought us seventy-one more cases. In 150 years there had never been a campus shooting with ten or more victims.

In what was then the worst case in American history, Charles Whitman climbed 27 stories up onto the famous University of Texas Tower on August 1, 1966. Using a military grade sniper’s gun, he killed fifteen, and wounded another thirty-six. His rampage lasted ninety-six minutes—until he was finally killed by police. Since then there have been hundreds of campus shootings. Nineteen of those cases rendered body counts greater than ten. Ten deaths is an artificial benchmark. It’s “worse” by a factor of ten than only killing one person in a campus shooting. Shooting one is devastating. Shooting ten or more is inarguably “worse.” Body count is itself a harsh way to account for the seriousness of the harm inflicted in every campus shooting. Tragically, it is consistent with the gun industry’s constant push for more guns—more guns will beget more gun violence.

“Worse,” from the Old Saxon word werran, meaning, “to entangle or compound.” To compound is to add to. In the world of campus shooters, it can always get worse. It goes from bad, to worse, to worst. Serial commas help. The cases briefed below are the worst of the worst mass shootings on American campuses in the last 150 years. The data is confirmed by reputable researchers citing reliable sources. The protocol is shooter’s name, campus, locale, body count and date.[1]

Shooter Seung-Hui Chou—Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Blacksburg, Virginia—33 killed and 17 wounded—April 16, 2007

Seung-Hui Chou was an undergraduate student. He used two semi-automatic pistols—a Glock 19 and a Walther P22. He killed thirty and wounded seventeen. Six other students were injured jumping out of windows to escape him. His first rounds were fired at West Ambler Johnston Hall, a dormitory, where he killed two. His main attack was at Norris Hall, a classroom building, where Cho chained the main entrance doors shut and fired into four classrooms and in a stairwell, killing thirty more people. As he roamed the halls and classrooms, he wounded seventeen. As police stormed Norris Hall, with his body count at fifty, and nearly out of ammunition, Cho fatally shot himself in the head. This remains the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. He held the record until surpassed nine years later by the Orlando Florida nightclub shooting; body count = 102.[2]

“[Cho’s] attacks received international media coverage and provoked widespread criticism of U.S. gun culture. It sparked debate about gun violence, gun laws, and gaps in the U.S. system for treating mental health issues, Cho’s state of mind, the responsibility of college administrations, privacy laws, journalism ethics, and other issues. News organizations that aired portions of Cho’s multimedia manifesto were criticized by victims’ families, Virginia law enforcement officials, and the American Psychiatric Association. Cho had previously been diagnosed with selective mutism and severe depression. During much of his middle school and high school years, he received therapy and special education support. After graduating from high school, Cho enrolled at Virginia Tech. Because of federal privacy laws, the university was unaware of Cho’s previous diagnoses or the accommodations he had been granted at school. In 2005, Cho was accused of stalking two female students. After an investigation, a Virginia special justice declared Cho mentally ill and ordered him to attend treatment; however, because he was not institutionalized, he was allowed to purchase guns. The shooting prompted the state of Virginia to close legal loopholes that had allowed individuals adjudicated as mentally unsound to purchase handguns without detection by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). It also led to passage of the only major federal gun control measure in the U.S. since 1994.”[3]

In 2008, an $11 million settlement was approved in cases filed by thirty-two victim’s families against the state of Virginia. It also covered eighteen people who were injured; their lifelong health care needs were included in the settlement.[4]

In 2011, the U.S. Department of Education levied a fine of $55,000 against Virginia Tech for waiting too long to notify students of the initial shootings, in violation of the Clery Act. “In announcing the fine, the director of a department panel which reviewed the case was quoted as saying, ‘While Virginia Tech’s violations warrant a fine far in excess of what is currently permissible under the statute, the department’s fine authority is limited.’ Eventually the fine and the finding of a violation of the Cleary Act was overturned. In 2012 half the fine was reinstated.[5]

In 2012, a jury found that Virginia Tech was guilty of negligence for delaying a campus warning, in a case filed by the families of two slain students. But the Virginia Supreme Court reversed the verdict, citing the trial judge’s instruction to the jury that there was a “special relationship” between Virginia Tech and the two students, since they were “business invitees” of the university.[6]

The Virginia Tech shooting reignited the gun politics debate in the U.S., with proponents of gun control legislation arguing that guns are too accessible, citing that Cho, a mentally unsound individual, was able to purchase two handguns despite state laws that should have prevented such a purchase. Opponents of gun control argued that Virginia Tech’s gun-free “safe zone” policy ensured that none of the other students or faculty would be armed and that as a result they could not stop Cho.

Law enforcement officials found a purchase receipt for one gun used in the assault among Cho’s belongings. The shooter waited one month after buying a Walther P22 pistol before he bought a second pistol, a Glock 19. Cho used a 15-round magazine in the Glock and a 10-round magazine in the Walther. Virginia restricts gun buys to residents who pass a background check. The Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibits those “adjudicated as a mental defective” from buying guns. Virginia checks other databases in addition to the federally mandated NICS. This exclusion applied to Cho after a Virginia court declared him to be a danger to himself in late 2005 and sent him for psychiatric treatment. Because of gaps between federal and Virginia state laws, the state did not report Cho’s legal status to the NICS.

Shooter Adam Lanza—Sandy Hook Elementary School—Newtown Connecticut

28 killed and 2 wounded—December 14, 2012

Shooting college students is criminal. Shooting elementary students is unimaginable. The former can be understood as mental illness. The latter only in terms of depravity. Adam Lanza took careful aim, killing twenty-seven people and himself. He first killed his mother at their shared home before taking her guns and driving to his former elementary school. He carried four guns and a day’s worth of ammunition. One by one, he killed twenty first-grade children, aged six and seven. Along the way he killed six adults—four teachers, the principal, and the school psychologist. He “merely” wounded two other people. Lanza killed himself as police finally arrived at the school.[7]

The police found a large quantity of unused ammunition inside the school along with his three semi-automatic firearms; a .223-caliber Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle (with a 30 round magazine), a 10mm Glock handgun, and a 9mm SIG Sauer P226 handgun. Outside the school, an Izhmash Saiga-12 combat shotgun was found in the car Lanza had driven.[8]

Three months later, the grisly details were revealed at a a meeting of the International Association of Police Chiefs and Colonels. They were revealed by an “anonymous law enforcement veteran who had attended the meeting. He said Lanza had created a 7-by-4 foot sized spreadsheet listing around 500 mass murderers and the weapons they used, which was considered to have taken years of work and to have been used by Lanza as a “score sheet.”[9]

Two writers created a profile of Lanza. They reported, “Lanza had attended Sandy Hook Elementary years earlier but was removed and partially home-schooled by his mother. “The decision to take him out of class was one of many taken by his affluent parents as they struggled to find ways to support their troubled son. Following their divorce, Lanza lived at his mother’s colonial-style mansion, where he had two of the house’s four bedrooms – one for himself and the other for the computer where he played violent video games. Friends recalled an intensely shy but highly intelligent classmate, who wore oversized formal shirts with pens in their top pockets while others chose the youthful casual-wear typical of US schools. He was very thin, very remote and was one of the goths—referring gothic subculture centering on dark rock music.”[10]

Two other writers added to Lanza’s profile. “Inside the rambling, pale-yellow Colonial-style home in a Connecticut suburb, Adam Lanza lived amid a stockpile of disparate weaponry and macabre keepsakes: several firearms, more than 1,600 rounds of ammunition, 11 knives, a starter pistol, a bayonet, 3 samurai swords. He saved photographs of what appeared to be a corpse smeared in blood and covered in plastic, as well as a newspaper clipping that chronicled a vicious shooting at Northern Illinois University. A gun safe was in what investigators believed was his bedroom. Among his clothing was a military-style uniform.”[11]

Fox News reported, “The FBI released more than 1,500 pages of heavily-redacted documents Tuesday related to the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, files shedding light on the relationship between gunman Adam Lanza and his mother prior to the deadly massacre. In one interview, an unidentified person told an FBI agent that Lanza’s mother, Nancy, was concerned about him a month before the shooting because he had become a “shut in” who hadn’t gone anywhere in three months. Several neighbors also mentioned how Adam was “weirded out” when Superstorm Sandy struck the Northeast in late October 2012, and that his mother “had to stay in her house with Adam for several days without electricity because Adam refused to leave and go to a hotel, and she would not leave him alone. Another person told agents the FBI had been the home a few years prior because Adam hacked into a government computer system’ when he was in ninth grade. The neighbor said Nancy Lanza believed the agents were from the CIA and FBI, and she told them at the time the agents thought Adam ‘could have a job with them someday.’”[12]

A year after his massacre, law enforcement concluded he was obsessed with firearms, death and mass shootings, but could not identify his motive. The report mentioned pedophilia, noting they found on Lanza’s computer a file they described as “advocating pedophiles’ rights and the liberation of children.” They also said they found a screenplay describing a relationship between a 10-year-old boy and a 30-year-old man.[13] He was barely twenty.

Shooter Charles Whitman—University of Texas, Austin

18 Dead—31 Injured—August 1, 1966

[14]

The Texas Tower shooting deserves the brand, “Infamous.” Whitman’s story can be fairly introduced by the picture of one the five guns he carried twenty-seven stories up to his shooting platform. From there he massacred more students than any previous campus shooter in American history. Unlike most campus shooters, Whitman was full grown at age twenty-six, a USMC veteran, and a married engineering student with no known grievances against mankind. In addition to students, faculty and campus staff, he killed both his wife and his mother. Prior to his attack on fellow students, he had sought psychological help for “overwhelming, violent impulses including fantasies about shooting people from the tower.”[15] His autopsy revealed a hypothalamic tumor.[16]

He was the only campus shooter to be married, highly skilled in shooting techniques, and committed to kill as many people as possible, including his wife and his mother, before killing himself, seventeen others and wounding thirty-one. He didn’t invent the word rampage, but there is no other English word so accurately defines what he did during a 96-minute terror riddled day on a campus that had never known violence of any kind. The terrifying narrative of how he started his day bears repeating:

“Whitman stabbed his mother, Margaret Elizabeth Whitman, to death at 12:30 a.m. on August 1, 1966. He then stabbed his wife Kathleen Leissner Whitman to death, at 3:00 a.m. on the same day. In a note typed just hours prior to the murders, he professed his love for both women, saying he had killed them to spare them future humiliation and suffering. Later that morning, Whitman rented a hand truck and cashed $250 (equivalent to $2,000 in 2020) worth of bad checks at a bank. He then drove to a hardware store, where he purchased a .30 caliber Universal M1 carbine, two additional ammunition magazines, and eight boxes of ammunition, telling the cashier he planned to hunt wild hogs. At a gun shop he purchased four more carbine magazines, six additional boxes of ammunition, and a can of gun cleaning solvent. At Sears he purchased a Sears Model 60 12 gauge semi-automatic shotgun before returning home. Whitman then packed into his footlocker, a Remington700 6-mm bolt-action hunting rifle, a .35-caliber pump rifle, the M1 carbine, a 9-mm Luger pistol, a Galesi-Brescia .25-caliber pistol, a Smith & Wesson M19 .357 Magnum revolver, the shotgun, of which he had sawn off the barrel and buttstock, as well as more than 700 rounds of ammunition. He also packed food, coffee, vitamins, Dexedrine, Excedrin, earplugs, jugs of water, matches, lighter fluid, rope, binoculars, a machete, three knives, a transistor radio, toilet paper, a razor, and a bottle of deodorant. He put khaki coveralls on over his shirt and jeans.”[17]

Once he gained the high ground always sought by trained shooters and born killers, a history professor called was the first to call the police. A patrolman named Billy Speed was first to arrive, taking refuge with a colleague behind a columned stone wall. Whitman shot him through the six-inch space between the columns of the wall. Another officer heard the shooting on his radio. As he looked for a way into the tower, a student offered to help, saying he had a rifle at home. The officer drove the student to his home to retrieve his rifle.[18] Cautiously, five officers reached the 27th floor and confronted Whitman. “Around 1:24 pm, [officers] . . . rounded the northeastern corner of the observation deck.  Martinez jumped out and fired in the direction of Whitman, missing with all of his revolver shots. McCoy leaped out while Martinez was firing and saw Whitman’s head looking over the light ballast, McCoy fired at the top of the ballast, hitting Whitman between the eyes with several pellets, killing Whitman instantly. McCoy fired again, hitting Whitman on his left side. Martinez grabbed McCoy’s shotgun, ran to Whitman’s prone body, and fired a direct shotgun blast into the deceased Whitman’s left arm. In the immediate aftermath, Martinez was nearly shot himself by those on the ground, who did not yet realize that Whitman was dead.”[19]

Unquestionably, Whitman’s rampage at the University of Texas Tower was the most important event to take place in modern Austin history. “There were thousands of eyewitnesses and dozens of survivors. The local archives contain police reports, records of a high-profile Governor’s Commission, medical records, military records, and university records. [There are] dozens of interviews with survivors: with people who remember and people who have been trying to forget. It took 30 years for a journalist, Gary Lavergne, to write A Sniper in the Tower, a well-researched and thoughtful narrative. A few oral histories appeared over the years in Texas Monthly and local newspapers. It was only in 2006, that Texas Monthly Senior Editor Pam Colloff spent three months tracking down survivors and recording their memories.[20]

There was no police force on the UT Austin campus. The 50th anniversary of the UT tower shooting was August 1, 2016. That was the day the Texas Legislature chose to implement a new law “Allowing loaded guns in buildings on campus . . . Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, a strong advocate for the loaded gun law (sometimes known as Campus Carry), claimed that he didn’t realize that the law would be implemented on the anniversary of Whitman’s mass shooting. Public history cannot automatically create an informed or thoughtful public. But it might make more people aware of the wide range of ways that events were experienced and are still painfully remembered. And it might promote public discussion of important issues, at least among people who care about the past.”[21]

Unlike most other campus shooters, Whitman has a legacy. “The U.S. continues to grapple with the aftermath. In 2016 alone, 1,396 people have fallen victim to gun violence resulting in 378 gun-related deaths, according to Mass Shooting Tracker. The country remains divided as the controversial Senate Bill 11 goes into effect today. Backed by Gov. Greg Abbott and his Republican legislature, the campus-carry law allows UT students 21 and over with concealed handgun permits to carry them into classrooms, school buildings, and dorms.”[22]

“Bullet holes remained in the concrete and balustrades around the tower when I arrived at UT as an Assistant Professor in 1990, but no visible commemorative marker of the events of that day existed on the UT campus . . . These are events that cry out to be studied. They are also events that raise important questions about commemoration, about public remembering and forgetting, and about the uses of public history.”[23]

Behindthetower.org shows there is much that can be learned from tragedies that happened in the past. Graduate student Itza Carbajal tells the Daily Dot she believes creating digital archives and remembering history is important because it adds perspective when similar events happen today. “It’s about creating access to these stories so that not just younger people but everyone can know what is happening or what happened to give them perspective of what they’re going through or to at least understand what’s going on around them . . . The UT tower shooting is really vital to us understanding today, especially in a higher education space.”[24]

“It’s about creating access to these stories so that not just younger people but everyone can know what is happening or what happened to give them perspective of what they’re going through or to at least understand what’s going on around them . . . The UT tower shooting is really vital to us understanding today, especially in a higher education space.”[25]

Shooter Nicholas Cruz—Stoneman Douglas High School—Parkland Florida

17 dead—17 wounded—February 14, 2018

Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old former student whose behavior had led to his expulsion, killed 17 and wounded 17 other fellow students and staff members with a semi-automatic rifle at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after activating a fire alarm. In the aftermath, he blended in with the large crowd of fleeing students. Eventually he was arrested in a neighboring town and charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder. Quickly, police and prosecutors discovered “a pattern of disciplinary issues and unnerving behavior.”[26]

His predecessors were Charles Whitman who killed 31 in 1966, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold who killed 12 and wounded 21 in 1999, Seung-Hui Cho who killed 32 in 2007, and Adam Lanza who killed 30 in 2012. But those five school killers died at their crime scenes. Cruz escaped. So he became the first of the large-mass school killers to live, be charged, and wait for his first-degree murder trial. His killing spree came when heightened public support for gun control followed mass shootings in 2017. Ironically, on March 9, 2018, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a bill that implemented new restrictions to Florida’s gun laws and also allowed for the arming of teachers who were properly trained and the hiring of school resource officers.[27]

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office received widespread criticism for its handling of the police response, shortly after Cruz’s shooting spree—“Both for not following up multiple warnings about Cruz despite a lengthy record of threatening behavior, and for staying outside the school instead of immediately confronting him.”[28] Several officers resigned. The commission appointed by Governor Scott “condemned the police inaction and urged school districts across the state to adopt greater measures of security.”[29]

Cruz carried his AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle and multiple magazines. He fired “indiscriminately at students and teachers. A fire alarm went off, either pulled by the shooter or activated by smoke from the gunfire, causing confusion because there had been a fire drill earlier in the day. He first killed three students in the hallway; then fired through the windows of four closed classroom doors, killing six more students and wounding thirteen others. Students were unable to seek shelter at ‘hard corners’ — areas of a classroom that people could safely hide at if a gunman peered through the window of a door — because many of the classrooms in Building 12 lacked one, and furniture otherwise obstructed potential safe spaces. Two of those killed were students in Ivy Schamis’ Holocaust History class; Schamis was teaching a class lesson on combating hate when Cruz fired shots into her classroom. Around five students from Schamis’ class were injured. According to Schamis, the shooter was unaware he was shooting into a class on the Holocaust, even though he had scrawled swastikas onto the ammunition magazines that he left at the school.”[30]

Cruz had behavioral issues since middle school. He was transferred between schools six times in three years. In 2014, he was transferred to a school for children with emotional or learning disabilities. There were reports that he made threats against other students. He returned to Stoneman Douglas High School two years later, but was expelled in 2017 for disciplinary reasons. Stoneman Douglas had circulated an email to teachers, warning that Cruz had made threats against other students. The school banned him from wearing a backpack on campus.[31]

In 2013, psychiatrists recommended an involuntary admission of Cruz to a residential treatment facility. The Florida Department of Children and Families investigated him in September 2016 for Snapchat posts in which he cut both his arms and said he planned to buy a gun. A school resource officer suggested he undergo an involuntary psychiatric examination. Two guidance counselors agreed, but a mental institution did not. State investigators reported he had depression, autism, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. They concluded he was “at low risk of harming himself or others. He had previously received mental health treatment, but had not received treatment in the year leading up to the shooting.”[32]

Cruz had “anger management issues and often joked about guns and gun violence, which included threats of shooting up establishments. The brother of a 2016 graduate described him as ‘super stressed out all the time and talked about guns a lot and tried to hide his face.’ A student who was enrolled at the school at the time of the shooting said, “I think everyone had in their minds if anybody was going to do it, it was going to be him.’ A classmate assigned to work with him in sophomore year said, “He told me how he got kicked out of two private schools. He was held back twice. He had aspirations to join the military. He enjoyed hunting.’ A student’s mother said that he also bragged about killing animals. A neighbor said his mother would call the police over to the house to try to talk some sense into him.”[33]

The day after the shootings he was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder and held without bond. Cruz was placed on suicide watch in an isolation cell. On March 7, 2018, a grand jury indicted Cruz on 34 charges: 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder. Initially he was given a public defender pending a probate case involving Cruz’s late mother’s estate. On April 24, 2019, a determination was made that Cruz and his half-brother Zachary would share the proceeds of a MetLife insurance policy valued at $864,929.[34]

Cruz confessed on video while in custody by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. The video was published by TMZ—Cruz can be heard crying near the end of the video, and saying “kill me” to the camera.”[35] Cruz’s trial, initially scheduled to begin on January 27, 2020, was expected to go to trial in September 2021. But on October 14, 2021, he agreed to plead guilty to all counts relating to the shooting to avoid the death penalty. On October 20, 2021, Cruz made a statement after pleading guilty in which he expressed regret for his crimes and asked the victims’ families to decide his fate. He apologized in open court.

“I am very sorry for what I did, and I have to live with it every day. If I were to get a second chance, I would do everything in my power to try to help others. I am doing this for you, and I do not care if you do not believe me. And I love you, and I know you don’t believe me, but I have to live with this every day, and it brings me nightmares and I can’t live with myself sometimes, but I try to push through because I know that’s what you guys would want me to do. I hate drugs, and I believe this country would do better if everyone would stop smoking marijuana and doing all these drugs and causing racism and violence out in the streets. I’m sorry, and I can’t even watch TV anymore. And I’m trying my best to maintain my composure, and I just want you to know I’m really sorry, and I hope you give me a chance to try to help others. I believe it’s your decision to decide where I go, and whether I live or die. Not the jury’s. I believe it’s your decision. I’m sorry.”[36]

Families of many of the victims reached a $25 million settlement with the Broward County school district because the school district failed to respond to warning signs before the shooting that suggested Cruz was dangerous.[37]

Cruz will face a jury in 2022. It may recommend life, or death. In either case, appeals will follow. Death cases take years, if not decades to resolve. Life in prison cases take the life of the defendant to resolve.

Shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold—Columbine High School—Littleton, Colorado

15 killed—21 wounded—April 20, 1999

The Columbine High School massacre was a school shooting and a failed bombing attack. Two seniors at Columbine High, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed twelve fellow students and one teacher. They shot and killed ten students in the school library, where they later committed suicide. Twenty-one students and others were wounded by gunshots. They exchanged gunfire with the police. Three people were injured trying to escape. At the time, it was the deadliest high school shooting in U.S. history.[38]

The prelude was stupefying.

“At approximately 11:19 a.m., Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, dressed in trench coats, began shooting fellow students outside Columbine High School, located in a suburb south of Denver. The pair then moved inside the school, where they gunned down many of their victims in the library. By approximately 11:35 a.m., Klebold and Harris had killed 12 students and a teacher and wounded more than 20 other people. Shortly after 12 p.m., the two teens turned their guns on themselves. Investigators later learned Harris and Klebold had arrived in separate cars at Columbine around 11:10 on the morning of the massacre. The two then walked into the school cafeteria, where they placed two duffel bags each containing a 20-pound propane bomb set to explode at 11:17 a.m. The teens then went back outside to their cars to wait for the bombs to go off. When the bombs failed to detonate, Harris and Klebold began their shooting spree.”[39]

They wore matching trench coats to hide their weapons and apparently intended to kill everyone in the building—when that failed—they killed as many as possible could before killing themselves. The community narrative was Harris and Klebold committed the killings because they were members of a group of social outcasts called the Trenchcoat Mafia. Both were fascinated by Goth culture. Many thought they carried out the shootings as retaliation for being bullied.[40]

The City of Littleton is a home rule municipality in Arapahoe, Douglas, and Jefferson counties, Colorado, United States. It is the county seat of Arapahoe County and situated inside the Denver–Aurora–Lakewood Metropolitan Area. In 1999, the population was about 100,000—1,945 attended Columbine High that year. It was an upscale community. CNN’s background description was blunt.

“The two student gunmen were Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. Their plans for attacking the school, recovered by investigators after the tragedy had taken place, evolved over one year’s time. In those plans, Klebold and Harris outlined a mission to kill as many students and faculty as possible. They would set off destructive bombs inside the school and then shoot any survivors trying to run out. Bombs inside their cars would explode later, killing law enforcement, fire or medical personnel responding to the scene. There are indications that their initial plan was for the Columbine High School attack to occur on Monday, April 19. While there was no specific reference made in their writings to this date being an important anniversary, it must be noted that April 19, 1999 was the fourth anniversary of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and the sixth anniversary of the Branch Davidian standoff in Waco, Texas. However, the Columbine tragedy occurred on April 20, perhaps due to unfinished preparations on the part of the killers. Or perhaps there is a connection with the history of this date. To begin with, 4/20 carries the same numerals as 420, the California criminal code for possession of marijuana. Due to the significance of these numbers in popular drug culture, some students were absent from school that day in recognition of what they termed “national marijuana day.”[41]

Their carefully selected weaponry was, at the time, state of the art killing machines. They had “Acquired two 9 mm firearms and two 12-gauge shotguns. Harris had a Hi-Point 995 Carbine with thirteen 10-round magazines and a Savage-Springfield 67H pump-action shotgun. Klebold used a 9×19mm Intratec TEC-9 semi-automatic handgun with one 52-, one 32-, and one 28-round magazine and a Stevens 311D double-barreled shotgun. Harris’s shotgun was sawed-off to around 26 inches (0.66 m) and Klebold shortened his shotgun’s length to 23 inches.

On November 22, 1998, a friend purchased the carbine rifle and the two shotguns for the pair at the Tanner Gun Show, as they were too young to legally purchase the guns themselves. After the attack, she told investigators she had believed the pair wanted the items for target shooting, and that she did not know of their plans. Harris and Klebold both held part-time jobs at a local Blackjack Pizza. Through a coworker, Klebold bought his TEC-9 handgun.[42]

Besides the pistols, rifles and shotguns, Harris and Klebold constructed 99 bombs; pipe bombs, carbon dioxide cartridges filled with gunpowder, Molotov cocktails, and propane tanks converted to bombs. Harris also attempted to make napalm, and envisioned a backpack and flamethrower.[43]

Both carried multiple knives under their trench coats. They created multiple journals and video tapes describing their plans to kill or maim as many students and faculty as possible. This record confirms they intended to detonate their propane bombs in the cafeteria at the busiest lunch hour, killing hundreds of students. After this, they would shoot and stab survivors, and lob bombs. Bombs set in their cars in the parking lot would also eventually detonate, they thought, killing more students and possibly any police officers, paramedics, firemen, or reporters who had come to the school. This part of the plan failed since the bombs in the cafeteria and cars failed to detonate. Several official sources claim they planned to shoot the fleeing survivors from the parking lot, but moved to the staircase on the hill at the west side of the school when the bombs failed. Other sources claim the top of the staircase where the massacre began was their preferred spot to wait for the bombs to go off all along. They fired 188 rounds of ammunition. Firing nearly twice as much as Klebold, Harris fired his carbine rifle 96 times, and discharged his shotgun 25 times. Klebold fired the TEC-9 handgun 55 times, and 12 rounds from his double-barreled shotgun. Law enforcement officers fired 141 rounds.

The FBI concluded that the killers were victims of mental illness, that Harris was a clinical psychopath, and Klebold was depressive.[44] The shooting resulted in calls for more gun control measures. The gun show loophole and background checks became a focus of a national debate. It was the deadliest mass shooting during the era of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban. In 2000, federal and state legislation was introduced that would require safety locks on firearms and ban the importation of high-capacity ammunition magazines. Though laws were passed that made it a crime to buy guns for criminals and minors, there was considerable controversy over legislation pertaining to background checks at gun shows. There was concern in the gun lobby over restrictions on Second Amendment rights in the United States. Frank Lautenberg introduced a proposal to close the gun show loophole in federal law. It was passed in the Senate, but did not pass in the House.

Shooter Dimitrios Pagourtzis—Santa Fe High School, Santa Fe Texas

8 killed—13 wounded—May 18, 2018

This 17-year old student’s shooting spree is the third-deadliest high school shooting in the United States, behind the Columbine High School massacre in 1999 and the Stoneman Douglas High School. Pagourtzis killed eight fellow students and two teachers. He wounded thirteen others. Police took him into custody after the shooting. It took him thirty-four minutes. He used a 12-gauge Remington 870 shotgun, a Rossi .38-caliber snub-nosed revolver, explosives and a Molotov cocktail.

“One wounded victim told reporters the shooter walked into the classroom and pointed at another person, singing Another One Bites the Dust in between shots. According to a witness, students barricaded themselves in the art classroom storage closet, and the shooter shot through the door with a shotgun. He left the art room briefly, causing students to leave the closet and attempt to barricade the art room door, but he pushed the door open. Upon spotting a student he knew, he said ‘Surprise!’ and shot the student in the chest.”[45]

Santa Fe ISD Police officers stationed at the school exchanged fire with him. He wounded one officer. Then he engaged a Texas State Trooper who attempted to have him surrender peacefully. They shot him, but he survived and was arrested on campus.[46]

“According to at least one witness, Pagourtzis was the victim of bullying by multiple students and coaches. The school denied the allegations of bullying by faculty. One of his former teachers described him as ‘quiet, but he wasn’t quiet in a creepy way.’ She had never seen him draw or write anything in his class journal that she found suspicious or unusual. Pagourtzis was on the honor roll, and he played on the school football team. Pagourtzis’ s journals on his computer and cell phone, found by police after the shooting, suggested to Governor Greg Abbott “not only did he want to commit the shooting, but he wanted to commit suicide after the shooting, planned on doing this for some time. He advertised his intentions but somehow slipped through the cracks.”[47]

This shooting occurred in the national aftermath of the highly publicized school shootings at Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook Elementary, UT Austin, and Stoneman Douglas High. Consequently, the Santa Fe Independent School District had an active-shooter plan, and two armed police officers that interacted with students in the school. In the year before the shooting, the school district leadership planned to arm teachers and staff through the Texas School Marshal Program. After the shooting, the president of the school district’s Board of Trustees said the district’s policies and procedures worked, and that it was not the failure of the procedures that accounted for the incident, adding someone intent on entering the school to create havoc would be able to do so in any event.[48]

As a result of the Pagourtzis shooting, the school renovated the northwest area of the campus, including sealing off the art rooms in which the shooting occurred and the adjacent hallway. A new protection plan was unveiled for the 2018–2019 school year with metal detectors at each entrance and police officers will patrol the campus with donated AR-15s equipped with rifle optics.[49]

Pagourtzis was charged with capital murder and aggravated assault against a police officer. Since he was only seventeen he could not be given the death penalty. His private lawyers petitioned the trial court to move the trial out of Galveston County due to heavy publicity; the judge granted the motion, without specifying the new venue. In addition to the state felony charges, Pagourtzis was charged with 11 federal charges. Trial was scheduled in Richmond County in January 2020. But in November 2019 he was found by three experts to be unfit to stand trial. He is under treatment at the North Texas State Hospital. Hospital experts submitted a report declaring Pagourtzis not competent, “nor likely to become so, in the next 90 days.”[50] As of July 2021, he is still under medical care at the Texas State Hospital and has not “been not restored to competency.”[51]

Unlike the residents of Parkland, Florida, the residents of Santa Fe, Texas largely declined media attention and did not support political gun control actions.[52] The Monday after the shooting at Santa Fe High, there were five arrests in the Greater Houston area for bringing weapons to school or making threats in the Friendswood, Huffman, Cleveland, Clear Creek, and Texas City Independent School Districts.[53]

Shooter Christopher Harper-Mercer—Umpqua Community College, Roseburg, Oregon

Ten Killed—Nine Wounded—October 1, 2015

Harper-Mercer had been placed on scholastic probation at Umpqua Community College for falling below a C average. According to his community college transcript, Harper-Mercer earned a 1.75 GPA during his time at UCC. On the day of the shooting, Harper-Mercer gave a survivor numerous writings showing he had studied mass killings, including the 2014 killing spree at Isla Vista, California. His memoir-styled writings expressed his sexual frustration as a virgin, animosity toward black men, and a lack of fulfillment in his isolated life. In them, he said, “Other people think I’m crazy, but I’m not. I’m the sane one.”

He joined the U.S. Army in 2008. “He was discharged after five weeks for his failure to meet the minimum administrative standards of basic training. Officials linked to the investigation said that he was discharged as the result of a suicide attempt, but Army officials did not comment on this. In 2009, he graduated from Switzer Learning Center, a school for teenagers with learning disabilities or emotional issues. He had several Internet accounts, including one in which he described himself as mixed race. Media reports said he had an e-mail address linked to an account on a BitTorrent website. The last upload on the account, three days before the Umpqua shooting, was a documentary on the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. According to the date of the post, he made an announcement post on 4chan’s /r9k/ board possessing the message. “Some of you guys are alright. Don’t go to school tomorrow if you’re in the northwest. Happening thread will be posted tomorrow. See you later space robots.”[54]

He and his mother moved to Winchester, Oregon in 2013. His mother said he was initially excited to be able, unlike in California, to “open carry.” There were fourteen legally purchased weapons kept in the apartment, and Harper-Mercer’s mother wrote online that she always kept full magazines in Glock pistols and an AR-15 rifle inside. The two often spent time together at shooting ranges, but Harper-Mercer was otherwise extremely isolated.[55]

Six firearms were recovered from the crime scene, five handguns and one long gun. None was owned by his mother. He didn’t use the long gun, a 5.56x45mm Del-Ton DTI-15 semi-automatic rifle. He wore a flak jacket and had “enough ammunition for a prolonged gunfight.” The police found eight other firearms at his apartment. The guns were purchased legally by him or members of his family.

He wrote about why, when, and who he would kill. It was in every sense of the word, a manifesto. He gave it to one student, spared him, but made him watch what he did to the rest of the students in the room. He told the boy he spared to give it to the police; then he went on his killing rampage.

After the rampage, as ordered, the boy gave the six-page manifesto to the police. In essence he depicted himself as “a lonely and dejected 26-year-old who had no job, no life, and no successes to speak of.”[56] It self-defined some of his mental health issues, though authorities have declined to disclose his mental health history. Harper-Mercer revealed his online presence and username. “Lithium love” as his “only joy in life.” Lithium is an antipsychotic drug, used to treat bipolar disorder. The sheriff said, “It’s pretty well laid out that he was a dejected failure.”[57]

Harper-Mercer opened his letter saying he was, “The most hated person in the world and had always been under siege from morons and idiots. What was it that was supposed to happen, what great event was it that was supposed to make me realize how much there was going for me . . . But for people like me there is another world, a darker world that welcomes us. For people like us this is all that’s left. My success in Hell is assured.”[58] He blamed his lack of standing in life on society, claiming he was denied everything he deserved. He likened his situation to those who carried out mass shootings at Columbine High School, Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook Elementary, as well as the gunman who massacred six people in Santa Barbara in 2014 before killing himself.[59] Though we may have been born bad, society left us no recourse, no way to be good. I have been forced to align myself with demonic forces. What was once an involuntary relationship has now become an alignment, a service. I now serve the demonic Hierarchy. When I die will become one of them. A demon. And I will return to kill again and again . . . human life means nothing.”[60]

He was white but defined himself as African American and Native American on a firearm purchase form. Even so he devoted much of his manifesto to criticizing black men. “I don’t hate blacks,” he wrote, “just the men.” He said “black women can only be saved by the castration/elimination of black men, whom he said only care about their penis.” He professed his love for mass killings and described “Cloud Atlas” as his favorite movie. He called another mass shooter “a god.” He said he aligned himself with the Occult since he was born. And he insisted, “No I’m not gay, girls just didn’t want me. As I said before they went for the “thug blacks.”

His first victim was the assistant English teacher—shot at point-blank range. He asked two students for their religion, shooting them after they gave him a response.[61]

He asked some students if they were Christians, “telling those who replied in the affirmative that they would go to heaven as he shot them.” Some were shot multiple times—one woman was struck several times in the stomach while trying to close a classroom door. One witness said he made a woman beg for her life before shooting her, shot another woman when she tried to reason with him, and shot a third woman in the leg after she tried to defend herself with a desk. One was killed while trying to climb back into a wheelchair at his orders.[62]

The first 911 call was posted at 10:38 a.m. Two plains-clothes officers responded at 10:44 a.m. and engaged him immediately. By then he’d killed nine, wounded another nine, and had just reloaded his handguns. He “leaned out of the classroom, firing several shots at the officers. They fired three shots in return, hitting him once in the right side. After two more minutes of shooting at the officers, the wounded Harper-Mercer retreated into the classroom and killed himself with a single shot to his head.”[63]

Shooter Jeff Weise—Red Lake Senior High School—Red Lake Minnesota

Seven Killed—Three Wounded—March 21, 2005

The Red Lake shootings were a spree killing on March 21, 2005, in two places on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in Red Lake, Minnesota. “That morning, 16-year-old Jeffrey Weise killed his grandfather, an Ojibwe[64] tribal police sergeant, and his grandfather’s girlfriend at their home. After taking his grandfather’s police weapons and bulletproof vest, Weise drove his grandfather’s police vehicle to Red Lake Senior High School, where he had been a student some months before. He shot and killed seven people at the school and wounded five others. The dead included an unarmed security guard at the entrance of the school, a teacher, and five students. After the police arrived, Weise exchanged gunfire with them. After being wounded, he shot and killed himself in a classroom. At the time, it was the deadliest school shooting in the United States since the Columbine High School massacre.”[65]

While this shooting had much in common with the other top ten American campus shootings, it had one glaring difference. It occurred on a sovereign nation. When dozens of reporters descended on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in Minnesota to cover the shooting in March 2005, many were shocked by the tribal government’s response. A short time after the shooting, tribal officials closed the reservation’s borders. By early the next morning, reporters had been herded into a parking lot at the tribal jail, and if reporters ventured into the town of Red Lake, they were threatened with arrest.

The local press and other police agencies near the reservation knew the drill and understood what the first-time reporters didn’t know. For a small number of journalists at Red Lake that day—the action taken by the tribal government was not unexpected. The out-of-town reporters could not understand the legal and practical implications of tribal sovereignty.

“Red Lakers stand proudly on their sovereignty. They live on land where generations of their ancestors walked, land that was never ceded to the U.S. government. This means it is within their rights to close the reservation. In fact, not many years ago, outsiders were required to carry a tribally issued passport. Such restrictions are often the reality in Indian Country. There is no guarantee of a free press on reservations, nor any protected right to free speech for the people who live there.”[66]

On the morning of the shootings, Weise used his Ruger MK II .22 caliber pistol to kill his grandfather as he was sleeping—twice in the head and ten times in the chest. He’d had the gun for about a year. Then he took his grandfather’s two police issued guns, a .40 caliber Glock 23 pistol and a Remington 870, 12 gauge pump-action shotgun, a loaded gun belt and a bulletproof vest. Then he shot his grandfather’s girlfriend, two times in the head as she carried laundry up the stairs.[67]

At 2:45 in the afternoon, he drove his grandfather’s squad car to Red Lake Senior High School. At the main entrance he faced two unarmed security guards manning a metal detector. He shot and killed one, while the other escaped. Then he walked down the main corridor of the school and began shooting. He killed three students and one teacher in the English classroom, while wounding three others. A 16-year old sophomore tried to down Weise, stabbing him with a pencil. While this diverted his attention, several students ran out of the classroom. Weise shot the boy shot him two times in the neck and once in the jaw, leaving him seriously injured.

He smiled at everyone he shot. He asked one student if he believed in God. The report suggested this was a reference to a widely publicized exchange during the 1999 Columbine High School massacre.[68] “At around 2:52 p.m., Weise returned to the main entrance, where he killed two students and wounded two others. The police had arrived quickly and engaged him in gunfire. FBI Special Agent Paul McCabe said the shootout lasted for about four minutes. None of the police officers were injured. After being hit three times in the lower back, right leg, and right arm by police gunfire, Weise retreated to a vacant classroom. There, leaning against a wall, he put the shotgun barrel to his chin, and fired, killing himself.”[69] The shootings lasted nine minutes. Weise fired 59 shots during the shooting spree—14 at his grandfather’s home and 45 at the school. He fired 37 rounds from his grandfather’s Glock handgun, 14 from his Ruger handgun, and eight from the shotgun.[70]

Minnesota has a state fund that aids victims and their families. In addition, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa established a memorial fund; it reached $200,000 in donations from across the country by April 2005. Initially, the tribe made 15 grants of $5,000 each to victims and their families, including one to Weise’s relatives. A tribal spokesman noted his family was not eligible for state compensation and said that they carried “a double burden.” The grant was to help pay for Weise’s funeral and burial.

On July 21, 2006, the Red Lake school district settled with the families of the massacre victims. The school district agreed to pay $1,000,000 total to 21 of the victims’ families, the maximum amount allowed by Minnesota law. Of the settlement, $900,000 was to be immediately be granted to the families, and the remaining $100,000 to be set aside for future distribution.[71]

Jeffery Wiese was a quiet, withdrawn loner teased about his appearance. “A Red Lake School District employee said Wiese was teased about his towering height and being a ‘Goth kid’ who wore a dark trench coat to school year-round. Another school worker described Wiese as ‘a mixed-up kid who seemed lost in life. He wasn’t into normal things that kids should be.”[72] He had a troubled life. In 1999, his mother suffered severe brain damage in an alcohol-related car accident and had since lived and received care in a nursing home. The accident forced Wiese to move from Minneapolis to live with his father’s family on the reservation. His father had died by suicide in 1997, so Weise was officially placed with his grandmother. She died in 2003 and his aunts helped care for him.

The reservation of the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe is in northwest Minnesota and is one of two nationally that are “closed”; only Ojibwe tribal members may live there and own land. Its residents suffer high rates of unemployment, violence, and suicide. Housing is poor, and many students do not finish high school. Work opportunities are limited on the reservation, which has a population of 5,000. A study in 2004 found that a high proportion of students in high school had considered suicide. [73]

Shooter One L. Goh—Oikos University—Oakland California

Seven Killed—Three Wounded—April 2, 2012

Oikos University is a Korean Christian college in Oakland, California. On April 2, 2012, One L. Goh, a former student killed seven students, and wounded three others. Along with the California State University, Fullerton massacre, this was the fourth-deadliest university shooting in United States history, after the Virginia Tech massacre, the University of Texas Clock Tower shooting, and the Umpqua Community College shooting, and the ninth-deadliest U.S. school massacre overall.[74]

The shooting happened at approximately 10:30 a.m., when Goh opened fire with a .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun. He had four fully loaded 10-round magazines. He stood up stood up in a nursing classroom while class was in session, ordered classmates to line up against the wall, and fired at them. He said, “Get in line … I’m going to kill you all!” before opening fire.[75] Six students and a professor were killed, and three others injured. The attacker continued to fire shots as he fled the campus, driving away in a car belonging to a victim. Hours later, he surrendered to authorities at a Safeway supermarket in the nearby South Shore area of Alameda, about five miles away from the scene of the shooting.[76]

Goh had disciplinary problems, and was asked to leave Oikos a few months before the shooting. Police said he was angry at the administration after being expelled from the university, and having his request for a pro-rated tuition fee reversal. School officials later said he had not been expelled. Inexplicably, an administrator said Goh went to Oikos to find an administrator, but when learning she was not there, opened fire at random. He said Goh “was also upset that students in the past, when he attended the school, mistreated him, disrespected him, and things of that nature.”[77]

Goh was charged with seven counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder. In interviews, he apologized for the shooting, stating he forgot many parts of the day, and had difficulty talking about it. On April 30, he appeared in court where his public defender entered a not guilty plea, arguing Goh was not mentally competent to stand trial. The court appointed two psychiatrists to evaluate him. Eventually the psychiatric report concluded that Goh had suffered from paranoid schizophrenia for up to a decade and a half, and that he lacked the ability to cooperate with his public defender due to his incomprehension of the criminal justice system. Goh refused medication while in jail.[78]

On August 26, 2014, an Alameda County grand jury indicted Goh on seven counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder but as of September 9, 2014, he was still assessed as mentally incompetent for trial. During a hearing on December 2, 2015, he said he wanted the death penalty, though the attorneys on both sides are unsure whether he feels genuine guilt or still suffers from delusions. In May 2017, Goh pleaded no contest in the shooting. On July 14, 2017, the court sentenced him to seven consecutive life sentences plus 271 years in prison, all without any possibility of parole.[79]

Goh died on March 20, 2019, while in custody at California State Prison-Sacramento. The Sacramento County coroner’s office investigated the cause of Goh’s death. As of April 9, 2019, the coroner did not release the results of its investigation.[80]

Shooter Patrick Edward Purdy—Grover Cleveland Elementary School—Stockton California

Six Killed—Thirty-Two Wounded—January 17, 1989

Any report on a school shooting must take to ensure which “Cleveland Elementary School” was attacked. This attack occurred at the Grover Cleveland Elementary School at 20 East Fulton Street in Stockton, California on January 17, 1989. The shooter, Patrick Purdy, had an extended criminal history. He shot and killed five schoolchildren and wounded 32 others.

The other shooting occurred at “Cleveland Elementary School,” on Lake Atlin Avenue in San Diego California, ten years earlier, on January 20, 1979. That shooter was Brenda Spencer. Her case is reported below.

As first responders arrived at the Stockton school, Purdy committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. His victims were predominantly Southeast Asian refugees. The tragic saga began with an anonymous mid-morning phone call to the Stockton Police Department regarding a death threat against Cleveland Elementary School. At noon that day, Patrick Purdy, a “disturbed drifter” and former Stockton resident, set his fireworks-laden Chevrolet station wagon on fire with a Molotov cocktail after parking it behind the school, later causing the vehicle to explode.[81] Then, hiding behind a portable building on the school playground, he leveled his a semi-automatic rifle. He fired 106 rounds in three minutes, killing five children and wounding thirty others, including one teacher.[82] He also had a pistol—he used it to shoot himself in the head.[83]

The most chilling description of Purdy’s massacre is in Murderpedia.[84]

“At 11.40 am Purdy parked his car outside the school, got out, set it alight, and walked through the front gate armed with the AK-47 and two handguns. He strode like a man on a mission into a classroom and proceeded to randomly shoot at the children sitting behind their desks. While Purdy was reeling of bullets his car exploded outside. Seemingly finished with the classroom kiddies Purdy calmly walked back outside and let loose with the AK-47. Survivors say he was firing the weapon in wide swoops, causing maximum carnage, in all directions. After 130 shots of the automatic rifle, Purdy pulled one of his handguns from his waistband and blew a large portion of his head off.”[85]

The entire homecoming to his former elementary school took only one and a half minutes. It was enough for him to kill five children and injure thirty-nine, six of those seriously. His victims were Cambodian and Vietnamese immigrants, who had come with their families to the U.S. as refugees. He had carved the words “freedom”, “victory”, “Earthman”, and “Hezbollah” on his rifle, and his flak jacket was inscribed with “PLO”, “Libya”, and “death to the Great Satin.”[86]

Purdy had attended Cleveland Elementary from kindergarten through second grade. He was described as “an overly quiet child who cried often.” Reportedly, he was abused by his mother. At thirteen, he “struck his mother in the face and was permanently banned from her house.”[87] He lived on the streets of San Francisco, placed in foster care, in his father’s custody, became an alcoholic, and a drug addict, and attended Lodi High school sporadically. He was arrested many times for court-order violations, underage drinking, prostitution, possession of marijuana, drug dealing, possession of an illegal weapon, receipt of stolen property, and being an accomplice in an armed robbery at a service station.”[88]

On August 3, 1988, he bought the Chinese-made AK-47 he used to kill children. On December 28, 1988, he bought the Taurus pistol he used to kill himself. His hatred of immigrants and his ability to buy guns with ease brought national attention. “Why could Purdy, an alcoholic who had been arrested for such offenses as selling weapons and attempted robbery, walk into a gun shop in Sandy, Oregon, and leave with an AK-47 under his arm?”, Time magazine asked. The article continued: “The easy availability of weapons like this, which have no purpose other than killing human beings, can all too readily turn the delusions of sick gunmen into tragic nightmares. Immediately following the shooting, singer Michael Jackson made a short visit to the school and met with some of the children affected by the event. In California, measures were taken to first define and then ban assault weapons, resulting in the Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act of 1989. On the federal level, Congressional legislators struggled with a way to ban weapons such as military-style rifles without banning sporting-type rifles. In 1989, the ATF issued a rule citing the lack of “sporting purpose” to ban importation of assault weapons. In July 1989, the G.H.W. Bush Administration made the import ban permanent. The Federal Assault Weapons Ban was enacted in 1994, and expired in 2004. President Bill Clinton signed another executive order in 1994 which banned importation of most firearms and ammunition from Mainland China.”[89]

The Wiki page devoted to his case says, “According to Purdy’s friends, who described him as friendly and never violent toward anyone, he was suicidal at times and frustrated that he failed to “make it on his own”. Steve Sloan, a night-shift supervisor at Numeri Tech, said, ‘He was a real ball of frustration, and was angry about everything.’ Another one of Purdy’s former co-workers stated, ‘He was always miserable. I’ve never seen a guy that didn’t want to smile as much as he didn’t.’ In a notebook found in a hotel where he lived in early 1988, Purdy wrote about himself in the following terms: ‘I’m so dumb, I’m dumber than a sixth-grader. My mother and father were dumb.”

Shooter Brenda Spencer—Cleveland Elementary School—San Diego, California

Two killed—Nine injured—January 29, 1979

Brenda Spencer was sixteen on January 29, 1979 but no one ever thought she was sweet. Her mass shooting at an elementary school was as inexplicable as it was unusual. Unlike the scores of other American campus shootings since the 1960s, this one was by a female—one of only a few female school shooters.[90]  She lived directly across the street from the school. She used a .22 caliber rifle her father had given her for Christmas a month earlier. And she offered what is likely the weirdest motive of any killer in history. A reporter reached her by telephone while she was still in her parent’s home, immediately before the police arrested her, minutes after the shooting. He asked why she committed the crime. She reportedly answered. “I don’t like Mondays. This livens up the day.” That bizarre answer inspired Bob Geldof and Johnnie Fingers to write the Boomtown Rats song, “I Don’t Like Mondays.”[91]

Before school started on Monday, January 29, 1979, she shot the children waiting for the Principal to open the gates. She wounded eight. Then, as the principal ran outside in front of the school to help the kids, she shot him. The school custodian tried to pull one child to safety, so she shot him. Both died. Then she shot one of the first police officers to arrive, wounding him in th neck. The death toll would likely have been higher but for the police obstructing her line of fire by moving a garbage truck in front of her house. Thirty shots later, she barricaded herself inside her home for several hours.

While inside the house, she talked to police negotiators, telling them “The children and adults were easy targets and she was going to come out shooting.” Ultimately, she surrendered and left the house, reportedly after being promised a Burger King meal by negotiators. [92]

Everything about her, her killing, her legal case, and her life from then to now is tragic. “Her parents having separated, she lived in poverty with her father, Wallace Spencer, both sleeping on a single mattress on the living room floor in a house strewn with empty bottles from alcoholic drinks.”[93] Her classmates said, “She was too small to be scary at 5-foot-2 and 89 pounds . . . She was just this very weird girl . . . She’d shoot birds and cans. She had this long, straggly red hair. She was really scrawny — pretty crummy looking . . . She got in trouble a lot for being truant and not doing her work. She was different, that’s for sure. But she never really bothered anyone . . .”[94] Her many interviews after the shooting painted a clear picture of a “lonely, friendless girl whose one interest seemed to be guns . . .    her father trained her to shoot . . . he wouldn’t let her dress like a girl . . . She was always talking about her father — how mean he was. That and the gun, that was pretty much all she talked about . . . she liked old war movies and liked to play war.”[95]

A month before the shooting, she had a psychiatric evaluation arranged by her probation officer. He recommended that she be admitted to a mental hospital for depression, but her father refused to give permission. For Christmas 1978, he gave her a Ruger 10/22 semi-automatic .22 caliber rifle with a telescopic sight and 500 rounds of ammunition. Later, Brenda Spencer said, “I asked for a radio and he bought me a gun.” Asked why he had done that, she answered, “I felt like he wanted me to kill myself.”[96]

The Wikipedia site on this shooting summarizes the legal consequences. She was sixteen at the time of the shooting but was charged as an adult under California law. She pled guilty to two counts of murder and assault with a deadly weapon. “On April 4, 1980, a day after her 18th birthday, she was sentenced to 25 years to life. In prison, Spencer was diagnosed as an epileptic and received medication to treat her epilepsy and depression. Under the terms of her sentencing, she is eligible for hearings to consider her suitability for parole in 1993. Normally, very few people convicted on a charge of murder were able to obtain parole in California before 2011. As of December 2015, she had been unsuccessful at four parole board hearings. At her first hearing, Spencer said she had hoped police would shoot her and that she had been a user of alcohol and drugs at the time of the crime, although the results of drug tests done when she was taken into custody were negative. In her 2001 hearing, Spencer first claimed that her father had been subjecting her to beatings and sexual abuse, but he said the allegations were not true. The parole board chairman said that as she had not previously told any prison staff about the allegations, he doubted whether they were true. In 2005, a San Diego deputy district attorney cited an incident of self-harm from four years earlier when her girlfriend was released from jail, as showing that she was psychotic and unfit to be released. In 2009, the board again refused her application for parole and ruled it would be ten years before she would be considered again. As of August 2021, she remains imprisoned at the California Institution for Women.”[97]

Gunfire on School Grounds in the United States

A school is an educational institution designed to provide learning spaces and learning environments for the teaching of students under the direction of teachers. American schools are revered worldwide. A gun is a ranged weapon designed to use a shooting tube to launch typically solid projectiles. One advances knowledge. The other does not. When schools become targets and students die from gun violence, everybody involved suffers. While no one feels sorry for gun sellers, the unhappy fact is gun violence on school grounds is good for business—the police business. The one thing most Americans agree on is the sanctity and safety of children. That’s why gunfire on school grounds is always dreaded. And it’s why campuses in every state are hiring more school resource officers, most of whom have police experience.

So far in 2021, there have been at least 134 incidents of gunfire on school grounds, resulting in death and injury. But schools are just one of the many places where guns are used to kill children. “When it comes to how American children are exposed to gun violence, gunfire at schools is just the tip of the iceberg–every year, more than 3,000 children and teens are shot and killed and 15,000 more are shot and injured. An estimated 3 million children in the US are exposed to shootings per year. Witnessing shootings—whether in their schools, their communities or their homes–can have a devastating impact. Children exposed to violence, crime, and abuse are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol; suffer from depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder; fail or have difficulties in school; and engage in criminal activity.”[98]

 The harsh fact is gun violence on school grounds attracts immediate media attention because, as print media puts it, “if it bleeds, it leads.” A gunfight between two drinking adults at a bar might make the back pages, but when children are shot at school, its front-page news. And if one child kills another child at school with a gun, it’s above the fold and in bold typeface.

Everytown.org is the largest gun violence prevention organization in America. In 2013, Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America came together to tackle our shared goal of ending gun violence. They gathered together the best minds in research, policy, litigation, advocacy, and grassroots organizing. Now Everytown for Gun Safety has over six million supporters.

In January 2021, the Stanford Institute for Policy Research released a comprehensive analysis of American children who experience gun violence at school. They have higher rates of school absenteeism, lower high school and college graduation rates, and earn lower incomes by their mid-twenties. “The study, posted as an NBER working paper on Monday and co-authored by Maya Rossin-Slater, a SIEPR faculty fellow and assistant professor of medicine, shows that students at schools where a shooting occurs — including incidents in which a gun is fired, but no one is physically injured or killed — face lasting negative consequences. On average, shooting-exposed students are, more likely to be chronically absent from school and repeat a grade, less likely to graduate high school, enroll in college, or earn a bachelor’s degree. And they are less likely to hold a job as young adults. Moreover, by the ages of 24 to 26, those who attended a school where a shooting occurred earn 13.5 percent less compared to same-age individuals who attended similar schools and to cohorts who attended the same schools in years before the shooting took place. The researchers estimate that this reduction in earnings amounts to a loss in lifetime income of $115,550 per shooting-exposed student.”[99]

The National Education Association says, “Some call this the gun violence generation. Many of today’s youth have grown up in the shadow of mass shootings, including at Columbine High School, Sandy Hook Elementary, and Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. Active shooter drills are commonly practiced, starting in elementary school, and can cause a trauma of its own. Educators are increasingly expected to transform from nurturers to first responders at a moment’s notice—having to react and decide the best ways to protect their students based on the circumstances.”[100]

A strong call for action comes from the NEA. “Inspired by the courageous young people across the nation, students, parents, educators and community advocates are joining together to take action on gun violence in schools. Together we must take up the students’ call, No More. We call on every individual and community in America to join us—in a way that makes sense for them—to demand that our leaders take real action to end gun violence in our schools and to protect our students. We know that this problem can be solved. America is one of the few nations where mass-shootings are commonplace. Mass murder in our schools is not a predetermined outcome that we must be prepared for —it is a consequence of decisions made by our elected leaders. The problem extends beyond mass shootings. Gun violence affects the lives of our students far too often, inside and outside of schools. Gun violence affects too many youth, especially in communities of color, on a daily basis. It is far past time for our leaders to take real action when it comes to gun violence. Because they have not acted, we must.[101]

Is there a solution to gun violence on school grounds? Would metal detectors on classroom doors work? What about meditation sessions for fifth graders? Should we issue flak jackets on the playground? Build moats around schools? Gunpowder sniffing dogs? Actually, there are things we could do, but arming teachers is not one of them. The first step is to limit access to guns. Step two—provide nationwide background checks. Step four—ban assault-style weapons in all public places. Step Five is the easiest one of all—pass red flag laws. Would this end gun violence in schools? No, there will always be crazies. But it would save young lives.  


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_school_shootings_in_the_United_States_by_death_toll#List

[2] 49 killed and 53 wounded. Pulse Nightclub. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orlando_nightclub_shooting

[3]  Cochran, John (January 12, 2008). “New Gun Control Law Is Killer’s Legacy”. ABC News. Archived from the original on November 6, 2013. Retrieved January 14, 2008.

[4] O’Dell, Larry; Potter, Dena (June 17, 2008). “Judge OKs $11M settlement in Va Tech shootings”. The Boston Globe. Associated Press. Archived from the original on February 15, 2009.

[5] Simon, Richard (September 1, 2012). “Virginia Tech shooting: Failure-to-warn fine is reinstated”. Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on December 8, 2012. Retrieved June 10, 2014.

[6] Burgos, Evan (October 31, 2013). “Va. Tech cleared in wrongful-death lawsuit over 2007 massacre”. News/Other. NBC News. Reuters. Archived from the original on January 20, 2016. Retrieved April 26, 2014.

[7] “Sandy Hook Shooting: What happened?” CNN International. December 2012. Archived from the original on August 20, 2013.

[8] https://murderpedia.org/male.L/l/lanza-adam.htm

[9] Ibid.

[10] Joe Swaine, Raf Sanchez. December 16, 2012. Telegraph.co.uk  As reported in https://murderpedia.org/male.L/l/lanza-adam.htm

[11] N.R. Kleinfield, Ray Rivera and Serge F. Kovaleski. The New York Times. March 29, 2013

[12] https://www.foxnews.com/us/sandy-hook-killer-adam-lanzas-turbulent-home-life-with-mother-revealed

[13] https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20171025/fbi-evidence-shows-newtown-school-shooter-adam-lanza-had-sexual-interest-in-kids

[14] Whitman gun list on the 15th observation floor: Remington 700 ADL (6mm), Universal M1 carbine, Remington Model 141 (.35-caliber), Sears Model 60 Semi-automatic shotgun (12 gauge), S&W Model 19 (.357 Magnum), Luger P08 (9mm), Galesi-Brescia pistol (.25 ACP), a Machete. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Texas_tower_shooting

[15] “Gun Violence And Mental Health Laws, 50 Years After Texas Tower Sniper”. NPR.org. Archived from the original on November 18, 2016. Retrieved November 30, 2016.

[16]  Mass Murderers ISBN 0-78350-004-1 p. 54. Kluger, Jeffrey. “The Evil Brain: What Lurks Inside a Killer’s Mind?” Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Archived from the original on December 18, 2016. Retrieved November 30, 2016.

[17]  Irwin, Ron (2016). Mass Murders in America. Lulu.com. ISBN 978-1329829329. Mass Murderers ISBN 0-78350-004-1 p. 31. “Behind the Tower: The Victims”. behindthetower.org. July 15, 2016. Retrieved February 20, 2017.

[18] Lavergne, Gary M. (1997). A Sniper in the Tower. Denton, Texas: University of North Texas Press. ISBN 1-574-41029-6.

[19] Ibid.

[20] http://behindthetower.org/

[21] Ibid.

[22] https://www.dailydot.com/debug/charles-whitman-anniversary-campus-carry-ut-austin/

[23] Ibid.

[24] http://behindthetower.org/

[25] Ibid.

[26] Rozsa, Lori; Berman, Mark; Barrett, Devlin (February 15, 2018). “‘A Day of Mourning’: Florida School Shooting Suspect Denied Bond–Charged With 17 Counts of premeditated murder.” The Washington Post.

[27] Sweeney, Dan (March 7, 2018). “Florida House sends Stoneman Douglas gun and school bill to Gov. Scott”. Sun-Sentinel. Archived from the original on March 7, 2018. Retrieved March 8, 2018. Sanchez, Ray; Yan, Holly (March 9, 2018). “Florida Gov. Rick Scott signs gun bill”. CNN.

[28]i, David K. (January 11, 2019). “Sheriff Scott Israel removed from office after criticism of Parkland school shooting response”. NBC News.  

[29] Fleshler, David (December 13, 2018). “Broward Sheriff’s sergeant called ‘an absolute, total failure’ as Parkland shooting panel slams agency”. Sun-Sentinel.

[30] Solomon, Lois K. (March 20, 2018). “Stoneman Douglas teacher gets $1,000 to keep Holocaust lessons alive”. Sun-Sentinel. “Holocaust History Came Alive In Parkland Shooting.” CBS 4 Miami. April 26, 2018.

[31] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoneman_Douglas_High_School_shooting#cite_note-12

[32] McLaughlin, Eliott C.; Park, Madison (February 14, 2018). “Social media paints picture of racist ‘professional school shooter.'” CNN.

[33] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoneman_Douglas_High_School_shooting#cite_note-Bill-9

[34] Miller, Carol Marbin; Nehamas, Nicholas (April 24, 2019). “Parkland shooter came into an $865K insurance policy. Now his public defenders are dropping him”. Miami Herald.

[35] “Stoneman Douglas Shooter Nikolas Cruz Confession Tapes Released, He Says ‘Kill Me'”. TMZ. August 8, 2018.

[36] https://www.cnn.com/2021/10/20/us/nikolas-cruz-parkland-shooting-guilty/index.html

[37] https://www.forbes.com/sites/nicholasreimann/2021/10/20/parkland-massacre-shooter-nikolas-cruz-pleads-guilty-but-could-still-get-death-penalty/?sh=64eaade52859

[38] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbine_High_School_massacre

[39] https://www.history.com/topics/1990s/columbine-high-school-shootings

[40] Ibid.

[41] http://edition.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2000/columbine.cd/Pages/FORWARD.htm

[42] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbine_High_School_massacre.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Cullen, Dave (April 20, 2004). “The Depressive and the Psychopath”. Slate.

[45] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Fe_High_School_shooting

[46] Collette, Mark; Webb, Shelby. “Teens watch classmates die on morning of chaos as shooter opens fire at Santa Fe school”. Houston Chronicle. “Pakistani student among Texas victims”. BBC News. May 19, 2018. Jacobo, Julia (May 19, 2018). “Teacher’s aide among 10 dead in Texas high school shooting”. ABC News.

[47] Turkewitz, Julie; Bidgood, Jess (May 18, 2018). “Who Is Dimitrios Pagourtzis, the Texas Shooting Suspect?” The New York Times. May 19, 2018. Perez, Evan; Morris, Jason; Ellis, Ralph. “Dimitrios Pagourtzis identified as Santa Fe High shooter, sources say”. CNN. May 19, 2018. Weber, Paul J.; Lozano, Juan A. May 19, 2018. “Gunman blasted through door, lingered for about 30 minutes”. Associated Press.

[48]Frankel, Todd; Martin, Brittney; Craig, Tim; Davenport, Christian (May 20, 2018). “Santa Fe school had a shooting plan, armed officers, and practice. And still 10 people died”. The Denver Post 

[49] Smith, Diane; Tinsley, Anna M. “Will Your Kid’s School be Safer This Fall? Here’s What Educators Did After Mass Shootings”. Government Technology. September 10, 2018.

[50] Konstantin Toropin and Holly Yan. “The Santa Fe High School massacre suspect isn’t fit to stand trial and will get psychiatric treatment, attorney says”. CNN. Nov. 4, 2019. Powell, Nick (March 12, 2020). “Accused Santa Fe High School mass shooter to remain at mental health facility for up to a year”. Houston Chronicle.

[51] https://wwmt.com/news/nation-world/accused-texas-school-shooter-to-remain-at-state-hospital

[52] Deutch, Gabby, “The School Shooting America Forgot”. The Atlantic. (May 17, 2019).

[53] Reaux, Emily. “Five Houston-area students arrested on Monday for guns, threats”. KHOU. May 21, 2018

[54] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umpqua_Community_College_shooting>

[55] Ibid.

[56] Andrew Theen, The Oregonian/OregonLive. Updated at 3:33 p.m. https://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/2017/09/umpqua_community_college_shoot_3.html

[57] Ibid.

[58] Ibid.

[59] Ibid.

[60] Ibid.

[61] Chiu, David (October 10, 2015). “‘Lucky One’ Who Survived Oregon School Shooting Describes Massacre”. ABC News. Julie Turkewitz, “Oregon College Student Says Gunman Smiled, Then Fired”. The New York Times. October 9, 2015.

[62] Jackson, Derrick Z. “The shameful irony of Ore. mass shooting”. The Boston Globe. (October 2, 2015); Vanderhart, Dirk; Johnson, Kirk; Turkewitz, Julie (October 1, 2015). “Oregon Community College Shooting Leaves at Least 7 Dead”. The New York Times; “Deadly shooting at Umpqua Community College”. Portland, Oregon: KATU-TV. October 1, 2015. Archived from the original on October 16, 2015. Turkewitz, Julie (October 9, 2015). “Oregon College Student Says Gunman Smiled, Then Fired”. The New York Times. Karlinsky, Neal; Ghebremedhin, Sabina; Gard, Cassidy (October 5, 2015). “Oregon Umpqua Shooting Survivor Recalls Terrifying Moments Inside Classroom”. ABC News. Almaguer, Miguel; Helsel, Phil (October 10, 2015). “Survivor of Umpqua Community College Shooting Describes Rampage”. NBC News. Archived from the original on October 10, 2015. Retrieved October 10, 2015.

13. ^ “Oregon college gunman spared ‘lucky one’ to give police a message, survivor says”. The Dallas Morning News. Associated Press. October 3, 2015. Chiu, David (October 10, 2015). “‘Lucky One’ Who Survived Oregon School Shooting Describes Massacre”. ABC News. Original source = https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umpqua_Community_College_shooting

[63] Ibid. See also, Vanderhart, Dirk; Johnson, Kirk; Turkewitz, Julie (October 1, 2015). “Oregon Shooting at Umpqua College Kills 10, Sheriff Says”. The New York Times; “Oregon shooter showed little sympathy in calculated killings”. Newsday. Associated Press. October 4, 2015. 

[64]The Ojibwe, Ojibwa, Chippewa, or Saulteaux are an Anishinaabe people in what is currently southern Canada and the northern Midwestern United States. … In Canada, they are the second-largest First Nations population, surpassed only by the Cree. They are one of the most numerous Indigenous Peoples north of the Rio Grande. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/

[65] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Lake_shootings

[66] https://niemanreports.org/articles/cultures-clash-in-coverage-of-a-school-shooting/

[67] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Lake_shootings

[68] Lennard, Jeremy, “Ten dead in US school shooting.” March 22, 2005.

[69] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Lake_shootings

[70] Feds: Assault at Red Lake over in nine minutes. “MPR: Victims of the Red Lake shooting”. Minnesota Public Radio. March 22, 2005.

[71] Miron, Molly. “Judge signs $1 million order for Red Lake school shooting victims’ families.” Rodgers Law Office. June 4, 2018.

[72] https://murderpedia.org/male.W/w/weise-jeffrey.htm  

[73] Sevcik, Kimberly. “Reservation for Death”. Salon. August 8, 2005

[74] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oikos_University_shooting. See also, “Gunman Kills 7 in a Rampage at a Northern California University.” (April 2, 2012. “Death toll rises to 7 in Oakland religious school shooting,” Los Angeles Times, and Hotard, Scott, “Oikos University Shooting: Suspect, One L. Goh, Detained; At Least 7 Dead.” Gilligan Mohney. World News. April 2, 2012.

[75] “Get in line … I’m going to kill you all—Oakland Shooter ID’d as Ex-student One L. Goh” Global Post. April 2, 2012.

[76] “Medical School Shooting: Multiple Victims In Oakland, California.” Sky News. April 2, 2012; “‘Fatalities’ in California university shooting”. BBC News. August 10, 2009; Stevens, Matt “Multiple fatalities in Oakland religious school shooting”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 2, 2012.

[77] “Oakland shooting suspect One Goh ‘was targeting university official.'” Metro. April 3, 2012

[78] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oikos_University_shooting#cite_note-KTVU20121001-30

[79] “Former student gets life sentence in massacre at Oakland’s Oikos University”. ABC 7 news. July 14, 2017.

[80] Ikeme, Ekene, “Killer Dies in Prison.” Alameda Sun. April 9, 2019.

[81] Robert Reinhold, “After Shooting, Horror but Few Answers.” The New York Times. January 19, 1989.

[82] “Schoolyard gunman called a troubled drifter.” The Deseret News.

January 18, 1989. See also, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleveland_Elementary_School_shooting_(Stockton)

[83] “Slaughter in A School Yard”. Time. January 30, 1989. ISSN 0040-781X.

[84] “Murderpedia is a free online encyclopedic dictionary of murderers and the largest database about serial killers and mass murderers around the world. MALE murderers. Jun 4, 2017. Murderpedia.org

[85] https://murderpedia.org/male.P/p/purdy-patrick.htm

[86] Ibid.

[87]  “Troubled drifter erupted, became killer.” The Deseret News, January 22, 1989.

[88] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleveland_Elementary_School_shooting_(Stockton)

[89] Ibid.

[90] An FBI list of active shooters from 2000 to 2018 identifies just nine of the 250 shooters (3.6%) as female. And the Violence Project, which maintains a database of mass shootings in the U.S., states an even more staggering 98% of all recorded mass shootings were carried out by men. https://www.yourtango.com/entertainment/why-are-female-shooters-rare

[91] Steve Clarke (October 18–31, 1979). The Fastest Lip on Vinyl. Smash Hits. EMAP National Publications Ltd. pp. 6–7. “I Don’t Like Mondays” is a song by Irish new wave group the Boomtown Rats about the 1979 Cleveland Elementary School shooting in San Diego. It was released in 1979 as the lead single from their third album, The Fine Art of Surfacing. The song was a number one single in the UK Singles Chart for four weeks during the summer of 1979, and ranks as the sixth biggest hit of the UK in 1979. Written by Bob Geldof and Johnnie Fingers, the piano ballad was the band’s second single to reach number one on the UK chart. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Don%27t_Like_Mondays

[92] Sniping suspect had a grim goal”. The Milwaukee Journal. January 29, 1979. p.

[93]  “Sniping suspect had a grim goal”. The Milwaukee Journal. January 29, 1979. p. 4.

 Laura Finley (2011). Encyclopedia of School Crime and Violence (1st ed.). ABC-CLIO. p. 454. ISBN 978-0-313-36239-2.

[94] https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1979/01/31/classmates-say-alleged-sniper-seemed-lonely-friendless-girl/

[95] Ibid.

[96] “Brenda Spencer” The Fliegen. See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleveland_Elementary_School_shooting_(San_Diego)

[97] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleveland_Elementary_School_shooting_(San_Diego)

[98] https://everytownresearch.org/maps/gunfire-on-school-grounds/

[99] https://siepr.stanford.edu/news/new-study-gun-violence-schools-identifies-long-term-harms

[100] https://www.nea.org/student-success/smart-just-policies/gun-violence-prevention

[101] Ibid.

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