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Remembering Elementary School Shootings of the Past

sandy hook signThe Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre Nov. 14 constitutes the second deadliest mass school shooting incident in American history, second only to the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre in which a single assailant murdered 32 individuals and injured 17 others.

With an estimated 26 victims dead — 20 of whom are children — the recent massacre is far and away the deadliest shooting incident to ever occur in one of the nation’s elementary schools.

Although mass shooting incidents in university and high school settings have occurred in the past, the Newtown, Conn. massacre serves as a rare instance of a perpetrator targeting elementary school students. But similar shootings have taken place.

– On Oct. 20, 2006, Charles Carl Roberts IV entered the West Nickel Mines School in Bart Township, Penn. and killed five young girls – ranging in ages from 7 to 13 – while additionally wounding five others before committing suicide.

– On Jan. 17, 1989, Patrick Purdy opened fire on a playground filled with children at Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton, Calif. In the three-minute rampage, Purdy killed five students and wounded an additional 29 children before turning the gun on himself.

– On Sept. 26, 1988, James William Wilson, Jr. killed two eight-year-old children and wounded seven others with a .22-caliber pistol at Oakland Elementary School in Greenwood, S.C. Wilson was sentenced to death for the attack.

– On May 20, 1988, Laurie Dann shot and killed an eight-year-old boy and wounded five other individuals in an attack that took place at Hubbard Woods Elementary School in Winnetka, Ill. She later committed suicide.

– On Feb. 24, 1984, Tyrone Mitchell killed a 10-year-old girl and wounded 11 other children when he opened fire on students exiting 49th Street Elementary School in Los Angeles. The perpetrator than killed himself with a shotgun.

– On Jan. 29, 1979, 16-year-old Brenda Ann Spencer injured eight children and killed two adults when she opened fire at Grover Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego, Calif. She was tried as an adult and is serving a sentence of 25 years to life at the California Institute for Women.

Historically, the single deadliest attack on elementary students to ever take place in the United States occurred in Bath Township, Mich., when Andrew Kehoe — a school board treasurer alleged to have been spurred by foreclosure proceedings on his farm — killed 38 children and wounded more than 50 others in a bombing that transpired on May 18, 1927.

Tabulating school-related violent deaths, the National School Safety Center reported that from 1992 until 2010, an estimated 52 homicides occurred within the nation’s elementary schools.

The Sandy Hook shooting increased that statistic by 50 percent.

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