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Religious Tolerance logo

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Schools shootings, mostly in North
America: 1998 to early 2008:

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Common features in many high school shootings:

bullet The gunman is a male student.
bullet He was 17 years of age or under at the time of the shooting.
bullet He had easy access to a firearm.

One of the following triggers were often present:

bullet He had experienced long term harassment and marginalization by fellow students, until he snapped.
bullet He suffered from a form of mental illness, often undiagnosed, and thus untreated.
bullet He was the victim of corporal punishment administered by the school. 1

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Some school shootings, 1998 to 2007:

  • 1998-MAR-24: - Middle School,Jonesboro, AR: Mitchell Johnson, aged 13, allegedly brought a knife to school on MAR-23. He was allegedly paddled by a teacher. He returned the next day with another student aged 11. Between them, they had three handguns and three rifles. He killed the teacher who had paddled him, and injured four students.

  • 1999-NOV-19 - Deming Middle School, Deming, NM:  Araceli Tena, aged 13, was shot in the back of the head, and died. Victor Cordova, Jr., aged 12, was charged with the shooting. He had said to fellow students on the day before the shooting that he would "make history blasting this school." Apparently, Cordova had been extremely depressed and angry in recent months. The death of his mother earlier that year during February might have beein involved in the tragedy.

  • 1999-DEC-6 - Fort Gibson Middle School, Ft. Gibson, OK: A 13 year old male shot four students: three boys and a girl. All recovered. One additional student received minor bruises in the attack. Deputy Terry Cragg of the Muskogee County Sheriff's Office said: "He doesn't even know who it was he shot. There was not a hate thing. I asked him why. He said, 'I don't know.' "He was described as intelligent, an honor student, and a church goer. 2

  • 1999-DEC-7: Netherlands: A 17 year old male student opened fire in a high school in Veghel, about 60 miles south of Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. He is believed to have been seeking revenge for his sister. One teacher and four students were wounded. The Dutch were stunned by the news. They have very strict gun laws in that country, and had never experienced an event of this type.

  • star 1999-DEC-16: Littleton, CO: A Columbine High School student visiting an Internet chat room on DEC-15 received a threat. The message allegedly said: "I need to finish what was begun [at the school there on 1990-APR-21]. If you go I don't want you or your blood on my hands." School officials decided to close the school on DEC-16 and reopen on JAN-4. The FBI questioned a student from Florida who may have initiated the posting.

  • 1999-DEC-14: Miami FL: A 14 year old boy in Miami walked into his biology class at Archbishop Curley-Notre Dame High School, brandishing two hand guns. He demanded "respect." Moments later, three teachers talked him into putting down the weapons. He let 29 students in the class go free.

  • 2000-JAN-28: Littleton, CO: According to the ReligionToday news summary: Police allowed the parents of the victims of the Columbine High School shooting to see five video tapes that the perpetrators of the Columbine shooting made in advance of the attack. The videos show that them venting "their rage at athletes, minorities, and Christians" whom the perpetrators probably felt received special privileges.

  • 2000-APR-20: Ottawa, ON, Canada: A 15 year old student allegedly stabbed four students and an adult computer technician with a steak knife. The event occurred on the anniversary of the Littleton CO mass shooting. The alleged perpetrator was described as a school outcast, a "loser" who "talked kind of crazy." It appears that he had been continually marginalized and harassed by other students.

  • 2000-MAY-1: Taber, AL, Canada: Dale Long, the father of Jason Long who was killed in 1999-APR-30, publicly forgave his killer. Dale is an Anglican priest. He told 500 people at the National Prayer Breakfast in Ottawa that Christians must not seek revenge. His alleged killer may have been mentally incapacitated at the time of the killing. He went into a coma shortly after the incident, and now has the intelligence of a young child.

  • 2001-MAR-5: Santee, a suburb of San Diego, CA: Allegedly, Charles Andrew Williams (Andy),15, used a .22 caliber revolver to kill two fellow students, as well as injure 13 students and adults at Santana High School in Santee. One additional student suffered minor injuries in a car accident as he fled from the scene. Jessica Moore, a fellow student, said of the perpetrator: "He was picked on all the time, He was picked on because he was one of the scrawniest guys. People called him freak, dork, nerd, stuff like that." Another student, Neil O'Grady, said "He always gets picked on, He's scrawny; he's little." According to the Associated Press: "Classmates and acquaintances of the boy described him as skinny and the subject of constant harassment."

  • 2001-MAR-7: Williamsport, PA: Student Kimberly Marchese, 13, was shot in the right shoulder, allegedly by a fellow 14 year old student. The next day, she was in stable condition in hospital. Unlike essentially all previous school shootings and murders, this one does not appear to be as a result of long-term harassment and marginalization of the perpetrator; it seems to have been caused by a long-standing argument between the two students. Also unlike most previous shootings, this was not at a public school; it was at the Bishop Newmann Junior-Senior High School, a parochial school.

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  • 2002-JAN: Grundy, VA: A student who had been dismissed from the Appalachian School of Law killed the dean, a professor and a student at the school. He also wounded three others.

  • 2005-MAR-21: Bemidji, MN: Jeff Weise, 16, apparently acted alone when he allegedly shot his grandfather and his grandfather's companion. He allegedly wore his grandfather's bulletproof vest and continued his killing spree at his high school on the Red Lake Indian Reservation.  He allegedly killed an unarmed security guard, teacher Neva Rogers, five fellow students and finally himself. He may have posted messages on a neo-Nazi website expressing admiration for Hitler and referring to himself as "Todesengel," the Angel of Death. He had criticized inter-racial mixing and the prevalence of rap music on the reservation.

  • 2005-NOV-09: Jacksboro, TN: Ken Bartley Jr., aged 15, allegedly brought a rifle into the school cafeteria with a .22 caliber handgun. The principal, two assistant principals and a teacher allegedly wrestled the gun away from him. The principal was killed; the two assistant principals were injured, and the student suffered minor injuries. "Students and teachers describe the boy as troubled, who until recently, attended an alternative school." 3

  • A string of shootings, some of which may have been copycat events, occurred in the two weeks following 2006-SEP-27:
    • 2006-SEP-27: A male drifter took six female high school students hostage in Balley, CO. He molested them, murdered one, and then killed himself as the police attacked.

    • 2006-SEP-29: A 15 year-old male youth killed his school's principal in western Wisconsin after telling another student "you better run."

    • 2006-OCT-02: Charles Roberts, 32, heavily armed with automatic gun, rifle, and shotgun, entered a one-room Old Order Amish schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He ejected the boys and adults, and tied up 15 girls. He shot 10 girls, five of whom died, and then committed suicide. More details. 4

    • >2006-OCT-09: A 13 year old seventh-grader in Joplin, MO, wore a dark green trench coat and a mask, and carried an assault rifle into his middle school. He fired a shot into the ceiling. His rifle then jammed. His motives and plans were unclear.

  • 2007-APR-02: A program coordinator for the University of Washington's College of Architecture is shot and killed by a man in an apparent murder-suicide.

  • star 2007-APR-16: Blacksburg, VA: In the deadliest mass shooting by an individual up until that time, Seung-Hui Cho massacred 32 persons at Virginia Tech. The murders started in a dormitory building. The university administration assumed that it was a conflict between students in the dorm. They issued an email to students warning of a potential gunman, but did not order a general evacuation of the univerity. Later, more students were killed across campus in a classroom building. The killer carried two handguns and later took his own life. 5

  • 2007-AUG-05: Three students were murderd and one injured in the Mount Vernon School in Newark NJ.

  • star 2007-OCT to 2008-FEB-14: A series of fifteen shootings occurred, as described in U.S. News and World Report. 6

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This timeline continues in the next essay.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Christopher Dugan, "Does a lack of paddling cause school shootings?," 2001-APR-04, at:
  2. "Police: Boy, 13, doesn't know why he shot classmates," CNN,com, at:
  3. "One administrator killed, two injured in Campbell Co. school shooting," WATE-TV, 2005-NOV-08, at:
  4. Tim Harper, "Amish school murders," Toronto Star, 2006-OCT-03.
  5. Christine Hauser & Anahad O'commor, "Virginia Tech Shooting Leaves 33 dead," New York Times, 2007-APR-16, at:
  6. "Timeline of School Shootings," U.S. News and World Report, 2008-FEB-15, at:

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Copyright © 2008 to 2018 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2008
Latest update: 2018-FEB-25
Author: B.A. Robinson

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 Home >Religious violence > School violence > here
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Copyright © 2009 to 2018by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2009-MAR
Latest update : 2018-FEB-25
Author: B.A. Robinson

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