I don’t like Mondays
On January 29th, 1979, Brenda Spencer opened fire on a Elementary School, killing two and injuring nine others. The incident would be known as the first high profile mass school shooting in the United States.
16-year-old Brenda Spencer killed two people and wounded nine when she opened fire for around 16 minutes on San Diego’s Grover Cleveland Elementary School with a .22-caliber rifle from her house across the street from the school.
The two victims were Principal Burton Wragg and custodian Mike Suchar. Eight students and a police officer were wounded.
Police were immediately dispatched but Spencer continued her gunfire. Police officer’s commandeered a garbage truck to use as a shield and drove into the line of fire to rescue the school children.
A SWAT and a Emergency Negotiations Team surrounded Spencer’s home. She threatened to “come out shooting” but eventually surrendered peacefully. The siege lasted seven hours.
When Spencer was asked about the motive for the shooting by a reporter who contacted Spencer while still barricaded inside her house, she replied “I don’t like Mondays.” And “I did this because it’s a way to cheer up the day.” She also stated that “It was a lot of fun seeing children shot.”
“I just did it for the fun of it. I don’t like Mondays. This livens up the day. I have to go now. I shot a pig. I think I want to shoot more. I’m having too much fun.” She also said, “I had no reason for it, and it was just a lot of fun. It was just like shooting ducks in a pond. ” They looked like a herd of cows standing around; it was really easy pickings.”
When police entered the Spencer’s dwelling they discovered a house littered with empty whisky and beer bottles. Brenda and her father lived in virtual poverty. They slept together on a single mattress on the living room floor.
In 1978, a year before the shooting, staff at a facility for problem students told her parents that Spencer was suicidal. That summer, Spencer, who would hunt birds in her neighborhood with a BB gun, was arrested for shooting out the windows of Grover Cleveland Elementary school.
Spencer received probation. A psychiatric evaluation arranged by her probation officer recommended that Spencer be admitted to a mental hospital for depression, but her father refused to give permission.
For Christmas 1978, a month before the shooting, Brenda’s father gave her a Ruger semi-automatic .22 caliber rifle with a telescopic sight and 500 rounds of ammunition. Spencer later said: “I asked for a radio and he bought me a gun.” When asked why he might have done that, she answered, “I felt like he wanted me to kill myself.”
Spencer was tried as an adult for the school shooting and pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon and was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
Spencer is incarcerated at the California Institution for Women. Manson Family members Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten are incarcerated at the same facility. All three women are part of the “Golden Girl” program.
The Golden Girls are all over age 55 and are granted special privileges by the warden, such as two mattresses on their metal cot and first in line for meals.