I have often wondered, in retrospect, whether in life I unknowingly crossed paths with a rampage killer.
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I taught at the Connecticut college where the Sandy Hook killer took classes, lived and worked in a nearby town. I've lived and worked in Tucson, the location of another sad rampage that left 6 innocent people dead and 15 with very serious injuries. Mass shootings affect entire communities. There are family members grieving over the senseless murder of loved ones, victims left with lifelong pain and suffering, and family members who care for them.
There are the witnesses who survived the sprees and are left with traumatic memories. There are responders like police and EMT's who arrive and witness unthinkable carnage and human suffering, in reality not unlike what is witnessed in war. With the astounding number of mass killings, chances are many of us have had some connection with a community, a school, a church, possibly a workplace targeted for a bloody rampage.
On April 20th we can think of the communities across the country affected by rampage violence, take stock of the people we know who are affected. We can all be more vigilant, too, in looking to spot the warning signs that are always present as harbingers of a rampage in the planning stages. Parents can make a greater effort to know what their children might possibly be conspiring to do, as can friends, teachers, care-givers.
No person, no community is immune. This year on April 20th perhaps pause to remember innocent victims of violence. Then give some thought to the people you know who might possibly be getting ready to mount a deadly assault. Take a look around you. The cloud of smoke that rises might end up more resembling a war zone than a party.
Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you. Help us tell more of the stories that matter from voices that too often remain unheard. He was reportedly obsessed with the Columbine shootings and had written an email to the current Columbine high school principal before committing his own crime.
Pennington, killed himself and his two sons, year-old Logan P. Pennington, year-old Benjamin M. Pennington, during a visit to the campus of Shepherd University.
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September 17, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Five Duquesne basketball players were shot early Sunday morning during an apparent act of random violence on campus, leaving three hospitalized — two of them in critical condition. He sexually assaulted them. He aimed a gauge shotgun at social studies teacher, Chuck Keller, before it was wrestled from him by school custodian, Dave Thompson. Hainstock then shot year-old high school principal, John Alfred Klang, with a. Klang died later that afternoon. Hainstock was charged and convicted of murder, and is serving a life sentence.
He will be eligible for parole in The gunshot struck a water pipe, and nobody was injured.
COLUMBINE: 20 YEARS LATER
He also tried repeatedly to shoot principal Stephen Gilbreth at near-point-blank range as Gilbreth ushered him out of the school. Joplin police say the attempt was foiled by an improperly seated ammunition clip in the rifle. The principal was not injured. White was tried as an adult on charges of assault and firearms possession, and in he was sentenced to ten years of prison.
January 3, Tacoma, Washington year-old student Douglas S. Chanthabouly, killed year-old Samnang Kok, in the hallways of Henry Foss High School following a personal disagreement. In , Chanthabouly was sentenced to 23 years in prison on a charge of second-degree murder. March 7, Compton, California 0 1 During an argument with several non-students and students, a student was shot in the elbow and wounded in the eating area at Centennial High School.
The shooting occurred an hour after classes were dismissed, and students in after-school activities were sent home. April 16, Blacksburg, Virginia 33 23 Virginia Tech shooting: year-old student, Seung-Hui Cho, killed thirty-two students and faculty members at Virginia Tech, and wounded another seventeen students and faculty members in two separate attacks before committing suicide. Coon, a year-old suspended student, returned to SuccessTech Academy, where he fired shots at people inside the school building, wounding two teachers and two students.
He shot himself in the head, committing suicide. In , Lively received a life sentence.
'Counting every school shooting so it never seems normal'
February 4, Memphis, Tennessee At Hamilton High School, a student shot a year-old student in the leg during a classroom argument over rap music. The victim's injury was not life-threatening. February 8, Baton Rouge, Louisiana Latina Williams, a year-old nursing student at Louisiana Technical College killed two classmates and herself in a second floor classroom.
February 11, Memphis, Tennessee Following a feud that started off campus earlier in the week, a year-old senior was shot by a year-old sophomore during a gym class held in the cafeteria with about 75 other students at Mitchell High School, before handing the gun to a coach making no attempt to flee. The victim suffered at least two gunshot wounds and was in critical condition, the suspected shooter was in custody.
Green Junior High School. McInerney was apprehended in a nearby neighborhood. King, who was openly homosexual, died two days later. McInerney was initially charged with a hate crime, but that charge was dropped. McInerney pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 21 years in prison. February 14, DeKalb, Illinois Northern Illinois University shooting: year-old Steven Kazmierczak, shot multiple people in a lecture hall of Northern Illinois University, killing five and injuring 21, before taking his own life.
Kazmierczak was not enrolled at the university, but had attended in the years prior to the attack. He was confronted by year-old Luis F. Cosgaya-Alvarez and two of his friends, driving in an SUV. Cosgaya-Alvarez flashed gang signs at Mendez, and shot him once in the head. Mendez later died of his injuries. Cosgaya-Alvarez was arrested a few days later in Seattle and was charged with murder. Cosgaya-Alvarez pleaded guilty to murder and weapon enhancements, and was sentenced to eighteen years in prison.
In , Siler was sentenced to thirty years in prison after pleading guilty to murder in a plea agreement. September 2, Willoughby, Ohio A year-old student brought a handgun into South High School, and shot two rounds, one into the ceiling and one shattering a trophy case. The student then put the gun to his head. Then Assistant Principal Jeff Lyons talked the student out of doing any harm. October 16, Detroit, Michigan year-old Christopher Walker, was killed, and three other teenagers were seriously wounded during a drive-by shooting near Henry Ford High School, soon after classes let out.
Three teenagers were arrested and charged in connection with the shooting. The shooter, year-old William Morton, was sentenced to life without parole, and Devon Bell was sentenced to forty-two years of prison. October 26, Conway, Arkansas University of Central Arkansas shootings: Four young men fatally shot two students, year-old Ryan Henderson, and year-old Chavares Block, and wounded a year-old campus visitor in the leg, outside the Arkansas Hall dormitory of University of Central Arkansas.
The shooter, year-old Teah Wimberly, was sentenced to twenty-five years to life on a first-degree murder charge. January 9, Chicago, Illinois After attendees were leaving a basketball game at Dunbar High School, a truck pulled over and someone inside fired shots at the crowd, wounding five people, three critically. Police believe that the attack was gang-related. April 26, Hampton, Virginia year-old Odane Greg Maye, a former student of Hampton University, followed a year-old pizza delivery man into his former dormitory.
Armed with three guns, Maye wounded the delivery man, then the dorm monitor. Lastly, Maye shot himself in a suicide attempt. He survived and was convicted of two charges of malicious wounding, two counts of using a gun in a felony; burglary; and shooting in an occupied building. After trying to rob him of a pound of marijuana, they shot him.
Copney turned himself in four days later.
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Copney was convicted of murder. His partners pleaded guilty to armed robbery and manslaughter. His girlfriend, year-old Brittany Smith, pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact, firearm possession, and misleading a grand jury. May 18, Larose, Louisiana year-old Larose-Cut Off Middle School student, Justin Doucet, carried his backpack to a restroom, where he put on camouflage clothes, took out a semi-automatic handgun before storming into a classroom.
He was going to shoot his school teacher, Jessica Plaisance, but the gun did not fire. He returned to the restroom and shot himself in the head, dying a week later of his wounds. June 16, San Francisco, California After students were being let out of International Studies Academy on the first day of summer school classes, a man left a car and opened fire, wounding three people, including a year-old female student.
An year-old man was arrested for being an accessory in the crime. September 3, San Bruno, California A year-old student was wounded in the parking lot of Skyline College after an argument between him and other men.
The college campus was placed on lockdown. Three San Francisco residents, year-old Germaine B. Benjamin, year-old Dimaryea J. McGhee, and year-old Jacori W. Bender, were each arrested and charged with felony firearm offenses. October 16, Conway, South Carolina year-old student, Trevor Varinecz was killed by a school resource officer after allegedly stabbing the officer. The shooting was possibly related to gang activitiy. In May , Memon pleaded guilty to the murder and was sentenced to thirty years of prison.
After Memon is released from prison, he is likely to be deported to his native Pakistan. February 12, Huntsville, Alabama University of Alabama in Huntsville shooting: year-old biology professor, Amy Bishop, killed the chairman of the biology department, year-old Gopi K. Leahy, and staff assistant, Stephanie Monticciolo. February 19, DeKalb, Illinois Less than a week after Northern Illinois University solemnly marked the second anniversary of a mass shooting on campus that claimed the lives of five students, the DeKalb school was the scene of further gun violence.
Isaacman, when he had tried to follow a female resident into the Stevenson Residence Hall North, where they were living, because he was not a resident. Moments later, while outside the dorm smoking with a friend, Mulder was shot by Isaacman, with a handgun in the leg above the knee.
Isaacman tried to flee, but was caught by police within minutes. The boy's wounds were critical for the four days following the shooting. In October , Eastwood was found not guilty by reason of insanity. He was tried as an adult and charged with assault with intent to kill. In , Hare was sentenced to 27 years in prison. September 28, Austin, Texas A year-old sophomore student Colton Tooley, wielding an AK and wearing a ski mask, opened fire and then killed himself in a University of Texas library.
October 1, Salinas, California year-old student Jose Daniel Cisneros was killed after being shot several times on an athletic field at Alisal High School while walking to school. Police said that the shooting was gang-related. October 8, Carlsbad, California year-old Brendan O'Rourke climbed over a fence and opened fire with a handgun in a playground of Kelly Elementary School, which had students; two second-grade female students were grazed in the arms before O'Rourke was subdued by a construction worker. He was found guilty of seven counts of attempted murder and was sentenced to years to life in prison.
November 29, Marinette, Wisconsin year-old Samuel Hengel, took 23 students and a teacher hostage inside a classroom of Marinette High School for five hours. He had stormed into the class, firing with a handgun at a movie projector. Police persuaded Hengel to release the hostages.
After officers entered the building, Hengel shot himself in the head. He died the next day. She was one of a group of students outside the school. Guzman-Ricon was sentenced to thirty-five years in prison. Vicki Kaspar and wounded principal Curtis Case before opening fire at police in the front office area, causing the school nurse to be wounded by gunshot debris. Butler then drove to a parking lot and shot himself as police cornered him. In the entrance of the school, Phelps shot year-old Chance Jackson twice in the abdomen, critically wounding him.
Phelps fled the school and dropped the handgun; he was arrested shortly after. Jackson had to undergo surgery three times to save his life; he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. Phelps was convicted of attempted murder in August , and was sentenced to thirty years in prison and five years of probation. Five other people were injured. May 23, Pearl City, Hawaii A year-old male student is accused of firing a handgun on the campus of Highlands Intermediate School, wounding one student.
The gunman was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. Two other suspects were arrested in connection with the shooting.
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She was hospitalized for two months in a serious condition. Underwood was arrested and charged with attempted murder. He was convicted of attempted first-degree murder and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. December 8, Blacksburg, Virginia year-old, Ross Truett Ashley, part-time business student at Radford University, killed a police officer engaged in an unrelated traffic stop on the campus of Virginia Tech, he then committed suicide in a nearby parking lot.
December 9, Edinburg, Texas Two students were shot after school at Harwell Middle School in Edinburg, Texas while trying out for their school's basketball team. The shooting allegedly was done by an adult off campus, who was shooting at a target range. The shooter said that he had been confronted by three students who had been bullying him and he shot in self-defense. He hit a year-old bystander in the leg. The year-old suspect was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
He killed three boys and wounded three other students. One year-old died immediately, two others died the following day. Lane was arrested early the next morning while standing near his car. He was charged as an adult with murder, attempted murder, and firearms offenses. In March , he was convicted and sentenced to three life sentences without the possibility of parole.
March 6, Jacksonville, Florida A murder-suicide resulted in two deaths on the campus of the Episcopal School of Jacksonville. Shane Schumerth, a Spanish teacher who had been fired that morning returned to the campus in the early afternoon via a pedestrian entrance, armed with an AK which he concealed in a guitar case.
He entered the office of the Head of School, Dale Regan, and fired multiple shots, fatally wounding her. Schumerth then killed himself, in the office. Goh, was accused of shooting dead seven students with a handgun and wounding three others at Oikos University, a Christian college. He fled the scene, stealing a victim's car, and was apprehended hours later nearby. Goh was charged with seven counts of murder. In January , Goh was determined to be mentally unfit for trial and committed for treatment.
The attack was believed to be gang-related. He hit a year-old senior in the lower back, causing critical wounds. The youth has Down syndrome. Gladden was subdued by two school faculty members, and arrested. In February , he was sentenced to thirty-five years in prison on attempted murder charges. September 7, Normal, Illinois A year-old student fired multiple gunshots in a classroom ceiling at Normal Community High School, and was tackled by a teacher. Nobody was injured. The student was arrested and charged with sixteen felony counts. Acting erratically, he had repeatedly approached the police officer "in a fighting stance", while naked and unarmed.
Officer Trevis Austin, equipped with pepper spray and a baton, felt his life was threatened and shot him, once through the chest. Austin was cleared of any wrongdoing by the university. Wright was approached by five would-be robbers as he left the school about p. He was shot in the chest as he fought back when one assailant was going through his pockets.
Wright had been picked on at his previous high school because he was gay, which led him to transfer to Banner. October 31, Los Angeles, California At a Halloween party on the University of Southern California campus, an argument escalated and year-old Brandon Spencer, used a handgun to shoot rival gang member, Geno Hall, seven times, critically wounding him. Spencer wounded three other people, none were students at USC, they were hospitalized with less serious injuries.
In April , he was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to forty years to life in prison. He first killed his mother at their shared home before taking her guns and driving to the school. Lanza brought four guns with him. He killed twenty first-grade children aged six and seven during the attack at school, along with six adults, including four teachers, the principal, and the school psychologist.
Two other persons were injured. Lanza then killed himself as police arrived at the school. January 7, Fort Myers, Florida Shots were fired at Apostolic Revival Center Christian School, leaving year-old Kristopher Smith dead in what was believed to be a retaliation killing, possibly for his talking with police about a previous incident. January 10, Taft, California year-old student, Bryan Oliver, entered a science classroom of Taft Union High School with a shotgun and opened fire, critically wounding year-old student Bowe Cleveland.
He shot at but missed another student. The classroom teacher Ryan Heber convinced Oliver, to drop his weapon. He was later arrested. On January 14, he was charged with two counts of attempted murder and assault with a firearm. He was convicted and accepted a plea deal with a sentence of 27 years and 4 months. According to the attorney for the Cleveland family, they were not satisfied with the sentence. January 15, St. Louis, Missouri A year-old gunman wounded an administrator in his office on the fourth floor of Stevens Institute of Business and Arts.
The suspected gunman, Sean Johnson, a part-time student, wounded himself in a stairwell. Both the administrator and Johnson were hospitalized in stable conditions. Johnson was charged with three felony charges, including assault. January 15, Hazard, Kentucky Two people were killed and a third person was wounded at the parking lot of Hazard Community and Technical College. The third victim, year-old Taylor Cornett, died from her wounds the next day.
The shooting happened after high school basketball games held on the campus, where Lawson had been a spectator. Police arrested two brothers, Michael McNabb, 33, and Brian Hewlett under the alias Stephen Gilbert , 30 after the shooting and recovered a weapon. One wounded the other. He also wounded a maintenance man, and accidentally shot himself in the leg. The shooter fled into the woods and was arrested hours later.
The charges against the initial suspect were dropped and another man was arrested. January 31, Phoenix, Arizona An argument between two rival gangs escalated to what police described as a "gun battle" at Cesar Chavez High School. Approximately fifteen shots were fired in the vicinity of people waiting to get into a scheduled boys' basketball game.
No one was injured. The gunman, a year-old student, was believed to be arguing with the other student before using a handgun to shoot him. But over the last two decades, many proposed gun control measures — even those sponsored by Republicans — have been stymied. Meanwhile, there have been a number of federal laws passed that buttress gun rights, including measures in the mids that required the FBI to destroy the records of approved gun buyers within 24 hours and that shielded gun sellers and manufacturers from lawsuits if their products are used in a crime. The assault weapons ban signed into law by President Bill Clinton expired in and has not been renewed.
Kopel said gun control proponents are looking at the issue the wrong way.
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Restricting overall access to firearms through gun control legislation largely hits law-abiding gun owners, he said, as criminals with intent to do harm will find a way to obtain weapons regardless of the law. He points to the thwarted mass shooting at New Life Church in Colorado Springs in by a disgruntled year-old Englewood man as a vivid example of why guns in the right hands can be instrumental in halting bloodshed.
In that case, a security guard shot the shooter in the foyer of the church, wounding him, before he could move further into the building and claim more lives. Police believe the shooter then turned the gun on himself. Columbine, Kopel said, changed the way law enforcement approaches an active shooter situation.
Officers were heavily criticized after the massacre for waiting too long before entering the school, allowing the shooters to carry out their deadly plan with almost no resistance. That was true in South Carolina in when a gunman killed nine members of a black church during a Bible study class and three years earlier when a gunman killed 12 and wounded 70 in a movie theater in Aurora.
It was revealed at trial that the shooter had scouted the Century Aurora 16 theater multiple times and estimated how long a police response would take after he opened fire. President Donald Trump has called for arming teachers , and at least 30 school districts in Colorado, The Denver Post found last year , allow teachers or school staff to arm themselves. But Mauser thinks the idea of arming teachers is a bad one. And Mauser questioned how rigorously and how often teachers should be trained in the use of their weapons and where the guns would be safely stored at school.
Since Columbine, the U. Supreme Court has handed down two landmark decisions on gun ownership. Heller — held that the Second Amendment ensures an individual the right to possess a firearm regardless of whether that person has any affiliation with a militia, striking down Washington, D. Two years later, the court ruled in McDonald vs.
City of Chicago that the right to keep and bear arms applies to state law in the same way it does to federal law.
It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.