January 17 marks the 25th anniversary of the Cleveland School shooting. The gunman, who had a long criminal history, shot and killed five schoolchildren, and wounded 29 other children and one teacher, before killing himself. Some think it began the most recent cycle of school shootings.
On January 17, 1989, the gunman, a disturbed drifter and former Cleveland School student, began his attack by setting his van on fire with a Molotov Cocktail after parking it behind the school. The car later exploded. He then moved to the school playground and began firing his Type 56 Assault Rifle from behind a portable building. He fired 106 rounds in three minutes. All of the fatally shot victims and many of the wounded were Cambodian and Vietnamese immigrants. The gunman shot himself in the head with a pistol.
The multiple murders at the Cleveland School in Stockton received national news coverage, Michael Jackson came to the school, and it spurred calls for regulation of semi-automatic weapons. “Why could Purdy, an alcoholic who had been arrested for such offenses as selling weapons and attempted robbery, walk into a gun shop in Sandy, Oregon, and leave with an AK-47 under his arm?” Time magazine asked.
That was the beginning of California’s crusade defining and then banning assault weapons. Today, California has some of the nation’s toughest gun legislation, thanks in part to the teachers who were there that horrible day and whose students were among the victims. Others who were injured are also part of the gun debate, however on the side for gun rights. Twenty-five years later, it is still a difficult issue. One thing everyone does agree on is that their lives were forever altered.
January 14, 2014 – 25 years later and the third school shooting so far in January 2014 – a 12 year-old boy brought his modified shotgun to school, wounding two other students before putting down his firearm at the request of a teacher.
When will it stop?