On This Day, Jan. 29, 1979: A Mass Shooter Who Breaks the Mold

* What makes this story of particular interest is the shooter in this tragic incident was a young woman. Most mass shootings are perpetrated by males*

shootingBrenda Spencer kills two men and wounds nine children as they enter the Grover Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego. Spencer blazed away with rifle shots from her home directly across the street from the school. After 20 minutes of shooting, police surrounded Spencer’s home for six hours before she surrendered. Asked for some explanation for the attack, Spencer allegedly said, “I just don’t like Mondays. I did this because it’s a way to cheer up the day. Nobody likes Mondays.”

Spencer was only 16 years old at the time of her murderous attack. She was a problem child who was widely known as a drug abuser with a violent streak. She repeatedly broke the windows at the Cleveland school with her BB gun. Still, her father gave her a .22 semi-automatic rifle and ammunition as a Christmas gift at the end of 1978.

BS1This seemed to inspire Spencer into more grandiose plans, and she started telling her classmates that she was going to do something “to get on TV.” When Monday morning rolled around, Burton Wragg, the principal of Cleveland Elementary, was opening the gates of the school when Spencer started firing her rifle from across the street. Wragg and custodian Michael Suchar were killed. “I just started shooting. That’s it. I just did it for the fun of it,” explained Spencer.

Spencer’s hatred for the first day of the school week was later memorialized by Bob Geldof, the leader of the rock group The Boomtown Rats, in the song, “I Don’t Like Mondays.”

Spencer, who pled guilty to two counts of murder and assault with a deadly weapon, is currently serving a term of 25 years to life at the California Institution for Women in Corona, California. She has been denied parole four times, most recently in 2005.

The Boomtown Rats, ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yteMugRAc0

 

Also on this date

“The Raven” is published, 1845

Kansas enters the Union as a free state, 1861

Baseball Hall of Fame inducts first members, 1936

Iran signs Treaty of Alliance with Great Britain and USSR, 1942

Peter, Paul and Mary sign their first recording contract, 1962

 

sources: on this date.com and history.com