this day in crime history: april 20, 1999


On this date in 1999, two teenage losers looking for infamy (which I will not contribute to by naming them here) went on a shooting spree at Columbine High School in Colorado. The attack was originally planned to be a bombing using IEDs made from propane tanks. The killers planned to wait outside and shoot people fleeing after the bombs detonated, but the bombs failed to detonate due to faulty construction. At that point, the killers approached the school and began shooting people. They entered the building and continued their shooting spree. They eventually committed suicide in the school library after police had surrounded the school. Twelve students and a teacher died in the attack. Twenty-four students were injured.

Further reading:

Wikipedia – Columbine High School massacre

SlateThe Depressive and the Psychopath

this day in crime history: august 20, 1986

USPSmemorial
Memorial to the incident in Edmond, OK

On this date in 1986, Postal Service employee Patrick Sherrill went on a shooting spree in a post office in Edmond, OK. Twenty people were shot, leaving fourteen dead and six injured. At the conclusion of his rampage, Sherrill turned the gun on himself and committed suicide. It is believed that the shooting may have been motivated by a reprimand that Sherrill had received the day before. The incident is often credited with inspiring the phrase “going postal.”

Further reading:

Murderpedia – Patrick Henry Sherrill

Wikipedia – Patrick Sherrill

Time“Crazy Pat’s” Revenge

this day in crime history: march 25, 1990

happylandfire

On this day in 1990, an argument turned into a mass murder at the Happy Land Social Club in the Bronx, NY.

Earlier in the evening, Cuban immigrant Julio Gonzalez was ejected from the club after arguing with his ex-girlfriend, who worked there as a coat check girl. Gonzalez, who had recently lost his job, was enraged. He screamed threats at the bouncers as they ejected him from the club.

Gonzalez returned to the club armed with a container of gasoline and some matches. He poured the gas on the stairs to the club and ignited it. The fire spread quickly. Due to a lack of working fire exits (they were blocked to prevent people from entering the club without paying), the people inside were trapped. Several managed to escape by breaking through a barrier that blocked one of the fire doors. Eighty-seven people died in the fire.

Among those who survived was Gonzalez’s ex-girlfriend. She told police about the argument and Gonzalez’s threats. They tracked him down and arrested him the following afternoon. Shortly after being arrested, Gonzalez confessed to the crime. He was tried and convicted on 87 counts of arson and 87 counts of murder. He was sentenced to 25 years to life on each count. Since the crimes occurred in a single incident, New York State law required that the sentences be served concurrently, rather than consecutively. Gonzalez is currently incarcerated at Clinton Correction Facility. He is scheduled for a parole hearing in November 2016.

The owners of the building were sued by the victims and the families of the deceased. The case was settled for $15.8 million, divided between the plaintiffs.

Further reading:

New York TimesRefugee Found Guilty of Killing 87 in Bronx Happy Land Fire

Murderpedia – Julio Gonzalez

Wikipedia – Happy Land Fire