Brenda Ann Spencer: The Original School Killer Could Be Set Free
The woman thought to have inspired many of America's school shootings is eligible for parole this year, but some don't want Brenda Ann Spencer freed at all.
Two people died and nine others were injured when Spencer, 16, opened fire on Grover Cleveland Elementary School, across the road from her home.
It was Monday January 29, 1979.
Spencer had told her father she was too sick to go to school. After her dad left for the day, Spencer took the semi-automatic rifle he bought her for Christmas and pointed it through her bedroom window.
She fired 36 bullets into a crowd of primary school students outside.
School principal Burton Wragg, 53, and caretaker Mike Suchar, 56, lost their lives. Eight students were wounded, and a police officer was also shot in the neck as the tried to move children away from the spray of bullets.
A six-hour police standoff-off followed, where Spencer barricaded herself inside her home.
Gus Stevens, a reporter from the San Diego Evening Tribune, was on the story quickly. He started calling homes in the area near the school to get information from neighbours and witnesses.
By chance, one of the homes he called was the residence of Brenda Spencer herself. The phone rang and she answered the call.
Stevens realised he was speaking to the probable perpetrator of the shooting and when he asked her for a motive for the shooting she responded calmly.
"I don't like Mondays. This livens up the day," she said.
Her infamous line inspired the 1979 Boomtown Rats song "I Don't Like Mondays".
Eventually, Spencer surrendered to police, reportedly on the promise of a Burger King meal, and was taken into custody.
As she walked out of her home in handcuffs, Spencer told police, "It was just like shooting ducks in a pond. The children looked like a herd of cows standing around."
She was tried as an adult and pleaded guilty to two counts of murder and assault with a deadly weapon. At the age of 17, she was sentenced to 25 years-to-life in prison.
That was 1980. After spending nearly 39 years in prison, Spencer will again be eligible for parole in August.
Spencer has been up for parole four times since she was convicted, but has been turned down each time.
Spencer reportedly only showed remorse when parole proceedings started in 1993. She claimed she had been under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs and alcohol when she shot at the school. Blood test results found no traces of drugs or alcohol in her system at the time of the shooting, but Spencer blamed her attorney and the court for fabricating the test results.
At her parole hearing in 2009, Spencer claimed she was beaten and sexually abused by her father. She claimed she was made to share a bed with her father between the ages of nine and 16.
These claims have never been verified.
According to The Mirror, more than 350,000 students across 400 schools in the US have witnessed a shooting since Spencer's attack. By Spencer's own admission, her shooting could have inspired more recent school attacks. This possibility has lead to opposition to her release.
"I know saying sorry doesn't make it all right. With every school shooting, I feel I'm partially responsible. What if they got the idea from what I did?" Spencer said at one of her hearings.
Featured Image: AAP.
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