Unfortunately, these days, school shootings, while shocking every time, are not totally uncommon in this country. The reasons for the shootings vary, but are often blamed on bullying, loneliness, or anger for perceived wrongs. They never solve anything, least of all for the shooter, who is usually dead, or in prison after the heinous deed is done. The rest of the world is left wondering why, and how we can fix this. Of course, there are always the anti-gun advocates who say that the only solution is to take the guns out of the hands of the citizens, but as most sensible people know, guns don’t kill people, people kill people.
In 1979, I was a busy, young mother, when the first school shooting took place. The date was January 29, 1979. The place was Grover Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego, California. The shooter was 16 year old Brenda Spencer. I have to assume that she is some relation to me, as researchers have claimed that all the Spencers in the United States are related. That thought in itself makes me sad. People have the potential to become such great things, and there are so many wonderful things that a person could be the first to accomplish. So, why on that day, did young Brenda Spencer decide to take the lives of to men and wound nine children at the school across the street from her home. Her stated reasons were several…”I like red jackets,” “It livens up the day,” “I had no reason for it, and it was just fun,” “It was like shooting ducks in a pond,” “The children looked like a herd of cows standing around,” “It was really easy pickings,” And the one that stuck with the crime forever, “I just don’t like Mondays.” There is no good reason to decide to go out and kill people, but that last one stuck in my head. She didn’t like Mondays, so she ruined her own life, killed 2 men and wounded 9 children!!
Of course, I doubt if Mondays, red jackets, boredom, or animals had anything to do with it. In my opinion, the cause is mental illness. I’m not excusing her actions, because murder is a heinous crime. Brenda did not just wake up that day and decide to shoot up the school. She was a problem child, who was widely known as a drug abuser with a violent streak, such as repeatedly shooting BBs at the windows of the school. Still, her father gave her a .22 semi-automatic rifle and ammunition as a Christmas gift at the end of 1978. I’m sure he thought that her BB shooting was a harmless prank, but with the drugs and anger simmering inside her, he was wrong. She had started telling her classmates that she was going to do something “to get on TV.”
That January morning, as the children were entering the school, Brenda 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. Brenda Spencer had become the first person to commit a school shooting. Asked for some explanation for the attack, she simply said, “I just don’t like Mondays. I did this because it’s a way to cheer up the day. Nobody likes Mondays.” 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, and she was denied parole four times, most recently in 2005.