Two decades of deadly gun violence in US schools

Seven thousand pairs of shoes, representing the children killed by gun violence, are spread out on the lawn of the US Capitol on March 13, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Eighteen students and three adults, including at least one teacher, were shot dead on Tuesday (May 25) when an 18-year-old gunman opened fire at their Texas elementary school, the latest in the United States' relentless cycle of school mass shootings.

Here are America's deadliest classroom gun massacres in the last two decades.

Columbine High School (1999)

The Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens in Littleton, Colorado, on April 20, 2019. PHOTO: AFP

Two teenagers from Columbine, Colorado, armed with an assortment of weapons and homemade bombs, went on a rampage at their local high school.

Twelve students and a teacher were killed during the April 20 massacre. Another 24 people were wounded.

Columbine, whose name has become synonymous with school shootings, is one of the first - and still among the deadliest - such shootings in the United States.

Virginia Tech (2007)

Memorial for the shooting victims on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Virginia, on April 22, 2007. PHOTO: AFP

A South Korean student at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute opened fire on the Blacksburg, Virginia, campus, killing 32 students and professors before committing suicide.

Thirty-three people were wounded.

The gunman had apparently idolised the Columbine shooters, referring to them as "martyrs" in a video, part of a hate-filled manifesto he mailed to police during the shooting.

Sandy Hook Elementary School (2012)

A memorial for victims following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec 16, 2012. PHOTO: AFP

A 20-year-old man with a history of mental health issues killed his mother in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14 before blasting his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Twenty children, aged six and seven, were shot dead, as well as six adults. The shooter then committed suicide.

The parents of Sandy Hook victims have led numerous campaigns to toughen gun control laws, but their efforts have largely failed.

Some conspiracy theorists insist the massacre was a government hoax, claiming the shooting involved "actors" in a plot to discredit the gun lobby.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (2018)

Nikolas Cruz, facing charges for the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, appears in court on Feb 19, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

On February 14, a 19-year-old former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who was expelled for disciplinary reasons returned to the Parkland, Florida, school and opened fire.

He killed 14 students and three adult staff.

Stoneman Douglas students have become crusaders against gun violence under the banner "March for Our Lives," lobbying for tougher gun control laws and organising protests and rallies.

Their campaign has taken off on social media, mobilising hundreds of thousands of young Americans.

Santa Fe High School (2018)

Ten people, including eight students, were killed when a 17-year-old student armed with a shotgun and a revolver opened fire on his classmates in rural Santa Fe, Texas.

Classes had just started on the morning of May 18 when the shooting began.

Following the tragedy, Texas Governor Greg Abbott unveiled 40 recommendations, mainly focused on increasing armed security on school campuses and stepping up mental health screenings to identify troubled children.

Gun ownership can be a point of pride for many Texans, and even some Santa Fe High School students spoke out against linking the shooting to the need for better gun control.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.