Top 10 Infamous Mass Shootings in the U.S.

These violent tragedies are a sobering reminder of how quickly life can change: unfortunately, mass shootings are nothing new, although sometimes it may seem as though there is a new incident every other week. While there is nothing to excuse the acts of a few lone gunmen, we can take some solace in the fact that these tragedies have helped law enforcement deal with future incidents. And, without acknowledging our past, we are destined to repeat it. In honor of the 14 women who were killed during Canada’s École Polytechnique Massacre in Montreal, WatchMojo.com counts down ten of the most infamous mass shootings in United States history.
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Top 10 Infamous Mass Shootings in the U.S.


These violent tragedies are a sobering reminder of how quickly life can change. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down ten of the most infamous mass shootings in United States history.

#10 – Geneva County massacre (March 10, 2009 – Deaths: 11 [including shooter], Injuries: 6)

Michael Kenneth McLendon began his rampage by killing his mother and burning her home. He then murdered more family members and took off in his car, killing indiscriminately as he went. Following a police chase and shootout, he committed suicide, and while he left behind a list of people who had done him wrong, his reason for killing was never established.

#9 – 2011 Tucson shooting (January 8, 2011 – Deaths: 6, Injuries: 14)

U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and some constituents were gathered in a grocery store parking lot when Jared Lee Loughner pulled out his gun. Among those killed were a federal judge, one of Giffords’ employees and a nine-year-old girl. Giffords herself was also shot at point-blank range, and while she was initially listed as critical, she pulled through and made a truly inspiring recovery.

#8 – Beltway Sniper attacks (October 2002 – Deaths: 10, Injuries: 3)

John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo taunted police and held Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia hostage by randomly shooting unsuspecting citizens from long distances. The pair was finally caught after intense news coverage three weeks later, and the rumored motive was Muhammad’s anger at his ex-wife. While that was not proven, Muhammad was executed in 2009, and Malvo is serving six life sentences without the possibility of parole.

#7 – Fort Hood shooting (November 5, 2009 – Deaths: 13, Injuries: 30 [including shooter])

This Texas spree was the worst shooting ever on an American military base. The accused was Army psychiatrist Major Nidal Malik Hasan, whose apparent belief in radical Islam, suspected al-Qaeda ties and alleged anger at the supposed war crimes of recently deployed soldiers he treated were tapped as possible motives. While he was paralyzed in the event, his trial was repeatedly delayed by his refusal to shave his beard based on religious beliefs.

#6 – Tower shooting at the University of Texas at Austin (August 1, 1966 – Deaths: 15 [including shooter], Injuries: 32)

After killing his wife and mother, former Marine Charles Whitman climbed the university’s clock tower and inflicted almost two hours of panic upon the area by randomly shooting passersby. His reign of terror ended when he was shot by a cop, and during his autopsy he was found to have a fatal brain tumor that might have been the cause of his rage.

#5 – San Ysidro McDonald’s massacre (July 18, 1984 – Deaths: 22 [including shooter], Injuries: 19)

Police procedure was never the same once this Mexico border town was hit by the bloody rampage of a man who said he was “hunting humans.” James Oliver Huberty killed 22 people ranging from 8 months to 74-years-old, before he was downed by a sniper’s bullet inside a McDonald’s. Huberty’s wife later unsuccessfully attempted to sue the restaurant chain by claiming their Chicken McNuggets led to her husband’s psychosis.

#4 – 2012 Aurora Shooting (July 20, 2012 – Deaths: 12, Injuries: 58)

During a midnight premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises,” James Eagan Holmes caused panic with tear gas and guns, killing 12 and injuring 58. Cops were on-site within a minute and a half, and Holmes was apprehended soon after, but the damage was done. A gag order prevented his motive from being immediately made public, but rumors swirled that he referred to himself as “The Joker.”

#3 – Luby’s massacre (October 16, 1991 – Deaths: 24 [including shooter], Injuries: 20)

In the deadliest U.S. shooting before 2007, George Hennard drove through the window of a Killeen, Texas diner and opened fire. Anger towards women and frustration over losing his job might have been contributing factors, though his motive was never established. Survivor Suzanna Hupp later lobbied heavily for concealed weapons laws as a member of the Texas House of Representatives based on her experience that day.

#2 – Virginia Tech massacre (April 16, 2007 – Deaths: 33 [including shooter], Injuries: 23)

Virginia Tech was a gun-free zone when South Korean national Seung-Hui Cho began targeting what he called “rich kids,” “debauchery,” and “deceitful charlatans” with gunfire. Despite tales of teachers and students sacrificing themselves for others, this was still the deadliest shooting by a lone gunman in U.S. history, and it ended when the shooter took his own life. In the wake of this tragedy, school security countrywide increased.

#1 – Columbine High School massacre (April 20, 1999 – Deaths: 15 [including shooters], Injuries: 21)

Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris planned to use guns and homemade bombs to cause anarchy at their Littleton, Colorado school. The bombing failed, but Columbine was still one of the deadliest ever American school shootings. Images from that day continue to haunt us, and the massacre was blamed on bullying, violent movies and video games, goth culture and even Marilyn Manson. But the shooters’ suicides make the motive even tougher to decipher.

These tragic massacres improved law enforcement’s responses to similar circumstances and reminded us that, without acknowledging our past, we are destined to repeat it. Check out more historical top 10s by subscribing to WatchMojo.com.
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