On this date in 1978, members of the People’s Temple cult in Guyana assassinated Congressman Leo Ryan, who had traveled to the South American country to investigate allegations of abuse made against the cult. While he was at an airstrip waiting to fly home, Temple gunmen opened fire, killing Ryan, three journalists, and a Temple defector.
Shortly after the murder of Ryan, People’s Temple leader Jim Jones led the group in a mass murder-suicide. Over 900 men, women, and children died. It is believed to be the largest murder suicide in history.
PBS – Jonestown: The Life and death of the People’s Temple
Wikipedia – Jonestown
SDSU – The Jonestown Institute