Twenty years ago,we would hear about mass shootings but there were few and far between. Sadly, in recent years they have become much more common. As a result, when a new tragedy occurs, the shock isn’t as great as it used to be. Since 1982, there have been a disturbing number of over seventy mass shootings in the United States. Here are the ten most shocking mass shootings in U.S. history.
10. Santa Barbara Shooting – Isla Vista, California
May 23, 2014: 22-year-old Elliot Rodger began a killing spree that would end up leaving thirteen people injured and seven people dead, including himself. Rodger first stabbed three men to death in his apartment and then took off in his car to a sorority house. He opened fire outside of the house, injuring two and killing two female students. After gunfire was exchanged with police two different times, Rodger crashed his car into a parked vehicle and shot himself in the head. What was truly shocking was that Elliot left behind a 141 page manifesto and a YouTube video that documented his motive for the killing spree. His reasoning for the massacre was his hatred for women, because they denied him his sexual desires, which made him remain a virgin. Elliot Rodger was also the son of The Hunger Games Assistant Director, Peter Rodger.
9. Westroads Mall Shooting – Omaha, Nebraska
December 5, 2007: 19-year-old Robert A. Hawkins entered the Von Maur department store in the Westroads Mall and opened fire with a semi-automatic shotgun. One hour earlier, Hawkin’s mother had turned in his suicide note to the police department, which read: “I just want to take a few pieces of sh-t with me… just think tho, I’m gonna be f-ckin famous.” By the time the police arrived, Hawkins had injured four and killed nine people, including himself. The Westroads Mall shooting is the deadliest mass murder in Nebraska history.
8. San Ysidro McDonald’s Massacre – San Ysidro, California
July 18, 1984: 41-year-old James Huberty entered a McDonald’s restaurant and opened fire. The massacre lasted seventy-seven minutes and by the end of it, Huberty had killed twenty-one people, including five children and injured nineteen others. James was able to fire off 257 rounds of ammunition, before he was fatally shot by a SWAT team sniper. The San Ysidro McDonald’s Massacre remains the deadliest shooting in American history, in which the criminal died by police and not by suicide.
7. United States Postal Service Shooting – Edmond, Oklahoma
August 20, 1986: 44-year-old Patrick Sherrill entered his workplace, the United States Post Office in Edmond, Oklahoma and fatally shot his supervisor, Richard Esser Jr. Richard was one of two supervisors who had verbally disciplined Sherrill the day before. The second supervisor, Bill Bland, had overslept that morning and was an hour late to work. By the time he arrived, the shooting had ended. Sherrill sealed off the exits and opened fire in the small facility, where around ninety employees were working. The massacre lasted fifteen minutes and in the end, six coworkers were injured and fifteen were dead, including Sherrill – who took his own life. The Edmond USPS shooting remains the deadliest massacre to ensue in an American civilian workplace. The incident is also credited with coining the American phrase, ‘going postal’.
6. Luby’s Massacre – Killeen, Texas
October 16, 1991: 35-year-old George Hennard drove his pickup truck through the front window of Luby’s Cafeteria yelling, “This is what Bell County did to me! This is payback day!” Hennard then opened fire on the 140 people who were in the restaurant at the time. He shot forty-three people, killing twenty-three of them before police arrived. After exchanging shots with officers, Hennard hid in a bathroom and shortly after, committed suicide. A possible motive for the shooting rampage was George Hennard’s intense hatred for women. Survivors of the shooting said Hennard would pass over men to shoot women and at point yelled, “All women of Killeen and Belton are vipers!” The Luby Massacre remains the deadliest non-school shooting in American history.
5. The UT Tower Shooting – Austin, Texas
August 1, 1966: 25-year-old engineering student and former US marine, Charles Whitman, entered the Main Building on the University of Texas campus. Earlier that morning, Whitman had stabbed both his wife and his mother to death and left notes behind, reasoning the murders. He claimed he wanted to save them the embarrassment of his actions and relieve them from suffering in this world. Prior to reaching the observation deck of the UT Tower, Charles had fatally shot four people and injured one inside the tower with a shotgun. Whitman walked out onto the observation deck and opened fire with his sniper rifle. As an experience sharp shooter, Charles was able to pick off people from distances of up to 1500 feet away. With a vantage point of 231 feet above ground level and ample coverage from gunfire, Whitman was able to fire shots for nearly two hours. Once officers were able to get inside of the tower, they were able to finally stop Charles by fatally shooting him. Whitman had killed sixteen people and wounded thirty-two others. Following the massacre, Charles Whitman was coined ‘The Texas Bell Tower Sniper’.
4. Aurora Theater Shooting – Aurora, Colorado
July 20, 2012: 24-year-old James Holmes entered a midnight screening of the film, The Dark Knight Rises dressed in tactical clothing. Initially, audience members thought he was just dressed up for the movie, like many others were, or that he was apart of a publicity stunt for the premiere of the film. Holmes threw tear gas grenades into the aisles of the theater and then opened fire on the audience at 12:30am. He fired several firearms and fifteen minutes later, he was apprehended by police outside of the theater without resistance. Holmes had shot and killed twelve people and injured seventy others. James Holmes is now awaiting trial after pleading not guilty by reason of insanity. The prosecution is seeking the death penalty and the trial is currently held up due to debates on whether jury selection should be public or private.
3. Virginia Tech Massacre – Blacksburg, Virginia
April 16, 2007: 23-year-old Virginia Tech Student, Seung-Hui Cho, began his attacks in a co-ed residence hall at 6:47 a.m., fatally shooting three students. He then returned to his residence hall and changed out of his bloodstained clothes. Cho went to the post office and mailed a package of videos and writings to NBC News. Two hours after the first attack, Cho entered Norris Hall and chained the three main entrances shut. He went to the second floor of the building and began entering classrooms, firing at students and teachers. Students and teachers attempted to barricade classrooms, while others jumped from the 2nd story to escape. About ten minutes after the second attack began, Cho shot himself in the head. Seung-Hui Cho had killed thirty-two people and wounded seventeen others, making it the deadliest shooting incident by a single gunman in U.S. history.
2. Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting – Newtown, Connecticut
December 14, 2012: 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot his mother dead in their Newtown home and then drove to Sandy Hook Elementary School. Lanza shot his way through a glass panel, next to a locked entrance door of the school. He then made his way through the hallways firing at anyone that came across his path. Lanza entered two different first grade classrooms and opened fire. He then roamed the halls, trying to enter other rooms that were now locked and barricaded. Five minutes after Adam Lanza entered Sandy Hook Elementary School, he shot himself in the head. 154 shots were fired during the attack, killing twenty-six and injuring two. Of the twenty-six victims, twenty of them were children between the ages of six and seven.
1. Columbine High School Massacre – Littleton, Colorado
April 20, 1999: 17-year-old, Dylan Klebold and 18-year-old, Eric Harris entered Columbine High School and placed two duffel bags containing propane bombs in the cafeteria. Klebold and Harris returned to their cars, armed themselves and waited for the bombs to explode. After the bombs failed to go off, the two boys entered the school, pulled their guns from underneath their trench coats and opened fire, killing two 17-year-old students immediately. Klebold and Harris continued shooting at students and throwing pipe bombs, half of which did not detonate. As police began to arrive at the school, Klebold and Harris made their way to the library, where fifty-two students and four staff members were hiding. For seventeen minutes, the two gunmen held the students and staff hostage in the library, while taunting and shooting at them. They left the library after killing ten people and injuring twelve others. Thirty-four people in the library remain unharmed. Klebold and Harris wandered the building for thirty-two more minutes, firing their guns and setting off bombs, but causing no more injuries. At 12:08pm, less than one hour after they began their massacre, Klebold and Harris committed suicide in unison. Harris shot himself through the roof of his mouth, while Klebold shot himself in the left temple. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris murdered twelve students, one teacher and injured twenty-four additional students during the Columbine High School massacre, which to this day, remains the deadliest mass murder committed on an American high school campus.