The gun madness – an American nightmare

Since the 1960s the United States has been plagued by mass shootings, several of them at schools or colleges.

This timeline lists the worst of them, from the first to the most recent high-profile shooting: the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school massacre that sparked tomorrows March for Our Lives.

1966, August 1

The first mass shooting of the modern era was at the University of Texas, in Austin, when Charles Whitman, a 25-year-old former Marine sniper took multiple firearms including assault rifles to the top of the college’s clocktower and opened fire, killing 14 people and injuring 30.

1979, January 29

– A schoolgirl, Brenda Ann Spencer, armed with a small caliber rifle, shoots at children waiting to enter their primary school, killing two adults and wounding eight children in San Diego, California. When police asked why she had done it she replied “I don’t like Mondays. This livens up the day”, inspiring the Bob Geldof song.


1984, July 18

– James Huberty, armed with assault rifles, shoots 21 people dead and wounds 19 in a busy McDonald’s restaurant in San Ysidro, California. Huberty, who had suffered mental problems, had told his wife “I’m going hunting… hunting for humans.”

1991, October 16

– George Hennard, 35, drives his ute into a cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, then shoots dead 22 diners and staff with two handguns, wounding 27. A standoff with police ended in Hennard taking his own life.

1999, April 20

– Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, kill 13 and wound 21 during a 49-minute thrill shooting spree at Columbine High School, Colorado. Klebold was under treatment for depression and had spoken about suicide. FBI investigations suggested Harris was a psychopath with a “messianic” superiority complex. The uyouths, armed with assault weapons and pipe bombs, took their own lives after, apparently, becoming bored with killing people. The documentary movie Bowling for Columbine provides some insights.

2007, April 16

– Student Seung-Hui Cho, 23, uses two handguns to kill 32 people and wound 17 in two locations on the Virginia Technical University in Blacksburg, Va. Cho had been diagnosed as mentally ill but because he had never been admitted for treatment he was able to buy guns. He took his own life before police could arrest intervene.

2012, December 14

– Adam Lanza, 20, kills his mother then takes her assault rifle and automatic pistols to the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. There he shot dead 20 children aged 6 or 7, and six female staff, before shooting himself.

2015, June 17

– White supremacist Dylann Storm Roof, age 21, trying to “ignite a race war”, attends a prayer service at a Church in a predominantly black suburb of Charleston, South Carolina, killing nine black worshippers with his handgun. He was sentenced to death after being found to be mentally unstable but competent to stand trial.

2016, June 12

– Omar Mateen, a security guard who hated gays, uses an assault rifle to shoot dead 49 clubbers and injure 58 in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Mateen was shot dead after a SWAT team broke down a wall to enter the club.

2017, October 1

– Businessman gambler Stephen Paddock, 64, opens fire on an outdoor country music festival from his suite at the Mandalay Bay hotel, Las Vegas. Over 10 minutes he fires more than 1100 rounds from multiple assault rifles, killing 58 people and wounding 851 before taking his own life. It is the worst mass shooting in modern US history.

2017, November 5

– Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, armed with an assault rifle, kills 26 worshippers and wounds 20 in a Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, rural Texas. Half the community is wiped out. Kelley dies after crashing his car while being pursued, and shot at, by survivors.

2018, February 14

– Former student Nikolas Cruz, 19, enters Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and kills 17 people including 14 students with an AR-15 assault rifle. Another 17 are wounded. Cruz, expelled for behavioural issues, is arrested near the school after fleeing the scene. He had commented on social media that his ambition was to be a school shooter.

Compiled by Zoe Delaney Grech and Kate Buxton from web sources. Edited by Tony Kleu.

Photo shows students marching in sympathy with the students of Marjory Stoneman High School in Florida where 17 people were shot dead on February 14 this year. Photo from Fibonacciblue’s Flicker account used under Creative Commons.