On January 29, 1979, 16-year-old Brenda Spencer killed two people and wounded nine when she fired on San Diego's Grover Cleveland Elementary School with a .22-caliber rifle from her family's house across the street.
The two victims were Principal Burton Wragg and custodian Mike Suchar. Eight students and a police officer were wounded. Spencer, the original high-school rampager, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon and was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. When asked why she did it, she said the often quoted: "I just don't like Mondays." At the time she also told negociators, "It was a lot of fun seeing children shot. the Cleveland Elementary School shooting took place on January 29, 1979, in San Diego, California. Shots were fired at a public elementary school. The principal and a custodian were killed. Eight children and a police officer were injured.
A 16-year-old girl, Brenda Ann Spencer (born April 3, 1962), who lived in a house across the street from the school, was convicted of the shootings. She was tried as an adult, and pled guilty to two counts of murder and assault with a deadly weapon. She was given an indefinite sentence and remains in prison.
During the shooting, a reporter phoned houses near the school looking for information about what was going on. He reached Spencer, who freely admitted that she was the one doing the shooting. When asked why she was doing what she was doing, one of the things she was said to have told him was: "I don't like Mondays." The alleged comment was widely publicized; Spencer later said she did not recall making the remark.
Brenda Ann Spencer
Spencer lived in the San Carlos neighborhood of San Diego, California in a house across the street from Grover Cleveland Elementary School, San Diego Unified School District. Aged 16, she was 5' 2" tall, unusually thin, and had bright red hair; a classmate described her as "pretty crummy looking".
Acquaintances later said Spencer expressed negative attitudes toward police, and had talked about shooting one. Teachers described her as introverted; sometimes they inquired if she was awake. Later, during tests while she was in custody, it was discovered Spencer had an injury to the temporal lobe of her brain, attributed to an accident on her bicycle. Spencer excelled in photography, winning first prize in a Humane Society competition.
After her parents separated, she lived with her father, Wallace Spencer, in virtual poverty; they slept on a single mattress on the living room floor. Police later found half empty alcohol bottles throughout the house. In 2001 she accused her father of having drunkenly subjected her to beatings and sexual abuse. He said the allegations were not true. Spencer is said to have self-identified herself as "having been gay from birth."
In early 1978, staff at a facility for problem pupils, which Spencer had been referred to due to truancy, informed her parents that she was suicidal. That summer, Spencer was arrested for shooting out the windows of the Cleveland Elementary with a BB gun, and burglary. In December a psychiatric evaluation arranged by her probation officer recommended Spencer be admitted to a mental hospital due to her depressed state, but her father refused to give permission.
For Christmas 1978 he gave her a Ruger 10/22 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."