by Staff writer
Brenda Ann Spencer is the first modern school shooter ever known.
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 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 negotiators, “It was a lot of fun seeing children shot.”
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.
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.
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.
In 2001 she accused her father of having drunkenly subjected her to beatings and sexual abuse. He said the allegations were not true.
Spencer was cited as the inspiration for the song “I Don’t Like Mondays,” written by Bob Geldof for his band the Boomtown Rats, which was released later that year.
I Don’t Like Mondays was also the title of a 2006 television documentary about the event.