The Little Bloody Schoolhouse

The earliest recorded school shooting in American history was at the University of Virginia in November of 1840. A law professor was shot and killed by a student.

The first incident in which more than one person was killed by gunfire in a school was in 1893 when four people were killed due to a fight.

Most deaths from guns in schools in the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century were the result of fights or students’ anger at teachers or headmasters.

That changed in 1940 when a South Pasadena principal, Vernon Spencer killed five of his co-workers in two different locations, perhaps the earliest mass school shooting by an individual in our country’s history.

Between these incidents were many others where one or two people were killed in school settings, including an incident in Harford City, Indiana in 1960, in which another principal killed two others and then killed himself.

Things changed forever in 1966 when 12 people were killed and 31 others were injured by a sniper in the clock tower on the campus of the University of Texas in Austin. The shooter, a student named Charles Whitman had earlier killed his wife and mother, then shot and killed three people in the main campus building before positioning himself in the tower and firing down upon passersby.

And it just keeps getting worse. The following doesn’t include any in which “only” one or two were killed, and there are more of those than the tears that have been shed about this violence.

Rose Mar College of Beauty. Mesa, Arizona. 5 killed, 2 wounded. 1966.

Olean High School. Olean, New York. 3 killed, 11 wounded. 1974.

California State University-Fullerton. Fullerton, California. 7 killed, 2 wounded. 1976

49th Street Elementary School. Los Angeles, California. 3 killed (including the shooter, by suicide), 12 wounded. 1984.

And it keeps getting worse.

Spanaway Junior High School. Spanaway, Washington. 3 killed (including the shooter, by suicide), no wounded. 1985.

Moses Montefiore Academy. Chicago, Illinois. 2 killed prior and 3 killed at the school (including the shooter, by police), 2 wounded.1988.

Cleveland Elementary School. Stockton, California. 6 killed (including the shooter, by suicide), 32 wounded. 1989.

University of Iowa. Iowa City, Iowa. 6 killed (including the shooter, by suicide), 1 wounded. 1991.

Indiana University. Bloomington, Indiana. 3 killed (including the shooter, by suicide), no wounded. 1992.

Lindhurst High School. Olivehurst, California. 4 killed, 10 wounded. 1992.

A reminder this doesn’t count incidents with “only” one or two deaths.

It keeps getting worse.

Frontier Middle School. Moses Lake, Washington. 3 killed, 1 wounded. 1996.

San Diego State University. San Diego, California. 3 killed, no wounded. 1996.

Pearl High School. Pearl, Mississippi. 1 killed prior, 2 at the school, 7 wounded. 1997.

Heath High School. West Paducah, Kentucky. 3 killed, five wounded. 1997.

Westside Middle School. Craighead County, Arkansas. 5 killed, ten wounded. 1998.

Thurston High School. Springfield, Oregon. 2 killed prior, 2 at the school, 25 wounded. 1998.

Keeps getting worse.

Notice the time between them keeps getting shorter.

Columbine High School. Columbine, Colorado. 15 killed (including the two shooters, by suicide), 21 wounded. 1999.

Appalachian School of Law. Grundy, Virginia. 3 killed, 3 wounded. 2002.

University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. 4 killed (including the shooter, by suicide), 0 wounded. 2002.

Red Lake Senior High School. Red Lake, Minnesota. 2 killed prior, 8 at the school (including the shooter, by suicide), 7 wounded. 2005.

Shepherd University. Shepherdstown, West Virginia. 3 killed (including the shooter, by suicide), 0 wounded. 2006.

West Nickel Mine School. Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. 6 killed (including the shooter, by suicide), 5 wounded. 2006.

Getting worse.

Virginia Tech. Blacksburg, Virginia. 33 killed (including the shooter, by suicide), 23 wounded. 2007.

Louisiana Technical College. Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 3 killed (including the shooter, by suicide), 0 wounded. 2008.

Northern Illinois University. DeKalb, Illinois. 6 killed (including the shooter, by suicide), 21 wounded. 2008.

University of Alabama-Huntsville. Huntsville, Alabama. 3 killed, 3 wounded. 2010.

San Jose State University, San Jose, California. 3 killed (including the shooter, by suicide). 0 wounded. 2011.

Chardon High School. Chardon, Ohio. 3 killed, 3 wounded. 2012.

Oikos University. Oakland, California. 7 killed, 3 wounded. 2012.

There are so many we tend to forget all but the worst.

Sandy Hook Elementary School. Newtown, Connecticut. 1 killed prior, 26 at the school (including the shooter, by suicide), 2 wounded. 2012.

Hazard Community and Technical College. Hazard, Kentucky. 3 killed, 0 wounded. 2013.

Santa Monica College. Santa Monica, California. 2 killed prior, 4 at the school (including the shooter, by police), 4 wounded. 2013.

Marysville Pilchuck High School. Marysville, Washington. 5 killed (including the shooter, by suicide), 1 wounded. 2014.

Delta State University. Cleveland, Mississippi. 1 killed prior, 1 at the school, 1 later (the shooter, by suicide), 0 wounded. 2015.

Umpqua Community College. Roseburg, Oregon. 10 killed (including the shooter, by suicide), 9 wounded. 2015.

UCLA. Los Angeles, California. 1 killed prior, 2 at the school (including the shooter, by suicide), 0 wounded. 2016.

North Park Elementary School. San Bernadino, California. 3 (including the shooter, by suicide), 1 wounded. 2017.

It’s amazing how many of these cowards take their own lives after wreaking their destruction.

Rancho Tehama Elementary School. Rancho Tehama, California. 6 killed (including the shooter, by suicide), 18 wounded. 2017.

Aztec High School. Aztec, New Mexico. 3 killed (including the shooter, by suicide), 0 wounded. 2017.


Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Parkland, Florida. 17 killed, 17 wounded. 2018.

Santa Fe High School. Santa Fe, Texas. 10 killed, 13 wounded. 2018.

Saugus High School. Santa Clarita, California. 3 killed (including the shooter, by suicide), 3 wounded. 2019.

Oxford High School. Oxford Township, Michigan. 4 killed, 7 wounded. 2021.

Robb Elementary School. Uvalde, Texas. 22 killed (including the shooter, by police), 18 wounded. 2022.

Central Visual and Performing Arts High School. St. Louis, Missouri. 3 killed (including the shooter, by police), 7 wounded. 2022.

University of Virginia. Charlottesville, Virginia. 3 killed, 2 wounded. 2022.

Michigan State University. East Lansing, Michigan. 4 killed (including the shooter, by suicide), 5 wounded. 2023.

Covenant School. Nashville, Tennessee. 7 killed (including the shooter, by police), 1 wounded. 2023.

And this doesn’t include the many shootings at schools when less than three were killed. It doesn’t include shootings at stores, churches, malls, movie theaters, and any place where people may gather. And it’s going to keep getting worse UNTIL WE DO SOMETHING, AND WE NEED TO DO IT NOW! We can “thoughts and prayers” our way to heaven or continue living in a hellscape where no person is safe. We need to petition, vote, march, write letters, make phone calls and not stop until some kind of sanity is returned to this culture of violence in which we try our best to live.

Sources for the events/numbers listed:

About Callen Harty

Originally from Shullsburg, Wisconsin Callen Harty is the author of four books and numerous published essays, poems, and articles. His most recent book is The Stronger Pull, a memoir about coming out in a small town in Wisconsin. His first book was My Queer Life, a compilation of over 30 years worth of writing on living life as a queer man. It includes essays, poems, speeches, monologues, and more. Empty Playground: A Survivor's Story, is a memoir about surviving childhood sex abuse. His play, Invisible Boy, is a narrative with poetic elements and is also an autobiographical look as surviving child sex abuse. All are available on (and three of them on Kindle) or can be ordered through local bookstores, He has written almost two dozen plays and 50 monologues that have been produced. Most of them have been produced at Broom Street Theater in Madison, Wisconsin where he started as an actor, writer, and director in 1983. He served as the Artistic Director of the theater from 2005-2010. Monologues he wrote for the Wisconsin Veterans’ Museum won him awards from the Wisconsin Historical Society and the American Association of State and Local History. He has also had essays, poems, and articles published in newspapers and magazines around the country and has taken the top prize in several photo contests. His writing has appeared in Out!, James White Review, Scott Stamp Monthly, Wisconsin State Journal, and elsewhere. He has had several essays published online for Forward Seeking, Life After Hate, and The Progressive. Callen has also been a community activist for many years. He was the co-founder of Young People Caring, UW-Madison’s 10% Society, and Proud Theater. He served as the first President of Young People Caring and as the Artistic Director for Proud Theater for its first five years. He is still an adult mentor for the group. In 2003 he won OutReach’s Man of the Year award for his queer community activism. OutReach is Madison, Wisconsin’s lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community center. He also won a Community Shares of Wisconsin Backyard Hero award for his sex abuse survivor activism work. He has been invited to speak before many community groups, at a roundtable on queer community theater in New York City, and has emceed several events. In 2016, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault named him their annual Courage Award winner for his activism, writing, and speaking on sexual assault.
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