School Climate & Safety

The Escalating Toll of Violence at Schools: A Five-Year Chronology

January 25, 1989 3 min read

The following are among the incidents of serious violence on American school campuses in recent years:

1984
February--A sniper fires into the playground of a Los Angeles elementary school, killing one pupil and wounding 14 other pupils and 2 adults.

1985
April--A 19-year-old wielding a rifle holds three 2nd-grade students hostage in a north Detroit elementary school for four hours.

October--A teenager fires six rounds of birdshot into a crowd of students at the entrance to a Detroit high school’s football field, wounding six.

--A high-school senior is shot and killed on the grounds of a Prince George’s County, Md., school, the first killing in the school district in a decade.

December--A Concord (N.H.) High School dropout is fatally wounded by police in a hallway of the school after holding two students hostage at gunpoint.

--A 13-year-old junior-high-school student in Connecticut shoots and kills the school custodian, wounds the principal and his secretary, and holds another student hostage for 30 minutes before surrendering to police.

--A man later said to be under psychiatric treatment holds a priest, his secretary, and four students hostage for more than seven hours in a Philadelphia Catholic high school. The students overpowered the intruder after realizing his pistol was loaded with blanks.

1986
February--A St. Louis preschool teacher is stabbed to death outside her classroom by her estranged husband.

May--A North Carolina high-school student wounds three others after opening fire with an automatic handgun in a crowded school hallway.

September--An 18-year-old graduate of a West Hollywood, Calif., high school is shot to death in a hallway of the school after an altercation with two students.

--A 15-year-old Louisiana high-school student fatally shoots himself in the head during a disciplinary meeting with his principal and assistant principal.

November--A 13-year-old 5th grader in Georgia fatally stabs his principal with a fingernail file during a meeting between his mother and the principal.

December--Apparently intending to attack his French teacher, a 14-year-old Montana student shoots and kills a substitute, and wounds an assistant principal and two students.

1987
February--An Arizona preparatory-school student is shot to death by police in his school, after he wounds an administrator and a teacher using a pistol and a shotgun.

March--A woman enters a Santa Ana, Calif., elementary-school classroom and fatally shoots herself in the head as 27 pupils watch.

April--A 17-year-old star athlete at a Detroit high school becomes the district’s first student murder victim, after being shot in the head by a 14-year-old student in a school hallway; two other students are injured.

October--A 15-year-old Chicago student is shot to death in the hallway of his high school by a 16-year-old; police term the shooting “gang-related.”

1988
February--A Pinellas County, Fla., assistant principal is fatally wounded in the head, and another administrator is seriously injured, in shootings by a 15-year-old student.

May--A deranged woman with two handguns enters a Winnetka, Ill., elementary school and terrorizes a 2nd-grade class, shooting one student fatally and wounding five others.

September--A 19-year-old in South Carolina, who later said he was imitating the Winnetka rampage, enters an elementary school and opens fire with a handgun in the cafeteria and in a 2nd-grade classroom; two pupils are killed and nine injured.

--A 40-year-old gunman kills a custodian and a female police officer at a Chicago school for troubled boys, after killing two people in a nearby auto-parts store.

October--An unidentified gunman fires three shots at a group of children playing on an elementary-school playground in Mascotte, Fla., seriously wounding a 9-year-old.

November--A Texas school-bus driver is fatally shot in the head by a 10-year-old elementary student.

December--A student at a Virginia Beach, Va., Christian school shoots and fatally wounds a teacher after a dispute over his grades.

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A version of this article appeared in the January 25, 1989 edition of Education Week as The Escalating Toll of Violence at Schools: A Five-Year Chronology

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