Three of the deadliest mass shootings in America

Students gathered for a candlelight vigil on the University of California Santa Barbara campus on May 24, 2014 to remember those killed during a rampage by lone gunman Elliot Rodger in nearby Isla Vista. -- PHOTO: AFP
Students gathered for a candlelight vigil on the University of California Santa Barbara campus on May 24, 2014 to remember those killed during a rampage by lone gunman Elliot Rodger in nearby Isla Vista. -- PHOTO: AFP

Another shooting by a young gunman in the United States has hit the headlines.

Late on Friday night, Elliot O. Rodger stabbed and killed his three male roommates before going on a shooting rampage in his car, killing three more people and wounding at least 13 people. The 22-year-old then killed himself.

Unfortunately, this is only the latest incident in a phenomenon that is sadly becoming familiar in the United States: Mentally disturbed young men who go on a killing spree, aided by the availability of firearms in the country. We revisit three of the most notorious, and deadly, shootings in US history.

Sandy Hook Shooting, December 14, 2012

Adam Lanza, 20, was obsessed with mass murders. He even put together a spreadsheet with the details of each incident. On Dec 14, he killed his mother Nancy, 52, while she was in bed before heading to Sandy Hook Elementary School, where he was once a student.

Armed with 30 rounds of ammunition, a Bushmaster .223-caliber semi-automatic rifle, a Glock pistol and a Savage Mark II rifle, he shot and killed 20 children and six adults. The guns were legal, owned by Nancy who was a gun enthusiast and advocate. She was the one who took Adam to shooting ranges to learn how to handle weapons.

Although the school had implemented safety measures such as locked doors which meant visitors had to be buzzed in, Lanza used his assault weapon to shoot his way into the school.

After killing people, Lanza turned the gun on himself. The loner in school was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome and displayed obsessive compulsive traits, including washing his hands and changing his socks multiple times in a day.

Just a day ago, The Telegraph newspaper in the United Kingdom published an interview with Lanza's father, Peter. Read the interview here.

VirginiaTech massacre, Apr 16, 2007

The deadliest shooting rampage in US history happened on the campus of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. The final toll was 33 dead, including the gunman, and dozens more injured. The perpetrator was Seung-Hui Cho, 23, (pictured above) a South Korean and US permanent resident majoring in English at VirginiaTech.

After shooting two students at a dormitory, Cho mailed a package containing video, photographs and writings to NBC News before going on to a classroom building to kill both teachers and students before turning his weapon on himself. In his video clips and writings, he raged against rich "brats" and complained about being bullied.

Reportedly a quiet child, he had planned the shooting, acquiring guns and learning to handle the weapons at an indoor range. But there were warning signs - he had stalked two female students and his English tutors were disturbed by the anger in his writings.

For a profile of Cho's family and background, go to the New York Times.

Columbine Massacre, Apr 20, 1999

The shocking high school shooting which kickstarted the first wave of self-reflection in America about everything from high school bullying to gun control laws. Students Dylan Klebold, 17, and Eric Harris, 18, were friends who bonded over a plan to attack the school.

Harris was the smart one who could be charming if he wanted to, later characterised as the psychopath, while Klebold was the anxious depressive who was also paranoid.

On the morning of Apr 20, the duo brought home-made bombs and guns to the high school in Colorado. The bombs fizzled as they were badly made, but the boys were armed a pistol, a rifle and two sawed-off shotguns which they used to kill 13 and wound 24.

Then they turned the guns on themselves.

Ten years after the event, Dylan's mother Susan wrote an essay for O magazine about her son. Read the interview here.

 

PHOTOS: REUTERS, YOUTUBE SCREENGRABS