On Monday, January 29, 1979, Brenda Ann Spencer 16 years old, gave a reporter from The San Diego Union-Tribune the quote of a lifetime. She said, “I don’t like Mondays. “This livens up the day.”
She used the word “this” to describe the fact that she had just used a semiautomatic rifle to fire 30 rounds of ammunition into a San Diego elementary school. After wounding eight children and a first responder while also killing the school’s principal and custodian, Spencer barricaded herself in her house for more than six hours before finally giving herself up to the police.
The Early Years Of Brenda Spencer
On April 3, 1962, Brenda Ann Spencer was born in San Diego, California. She had a tumultuous relationship with her father, Wallace Spencer, with whom she spent the majority of her early years growing up in relative poverty.
The Daily Beast reports that she would later assert that her mother “just wasn’t there” and that her father had abused her.
Wallace Spencer was a passionate gun collector, and his daughter at first seemed to be interested in the same pastime. Friends who knew Brenda Spencer claim that as a young adult, she experimented with drug use and small-time theft. She was absent from school quite often.
But when she did show up for class, she arched an eyebrow. She allegedly told her classmates that she was going to do “something big to get on TV” a week prior to committing the shooting that would make her famous.
The Grover Cleveland Elementary School shooting
Children began to line up outside Grover Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego, California, on January 29, 1979. They were waiting for their principal to open the school’s gates, according to History.
Brenda Ann Spencer was watching them from her house across the street, which was filled with empty whiskey bottles and a single mattress she shared with her father. She had skipped class that day and later claimed that she had drunk her epilepsy medication.
Spencer pulled out the.22 semiautomatic rifle she’d received as a Christmas gift from her father as the children waited outside the gates. Then she pointed it out the window and started shooting at the kids.
Burton Wragg, the school’s principal, was killed in the attack. Michael Suchar, a custodian, was also killed while attempting to pull a student to safety. Despite the fact that none of the children were killed, eight of them were injured. A responding officer was also injured.
Spencer continued to fire about 30 rounds into the crowd for the next 20 minutes. She then put down the rifle, barricaded herself inside her house, and waited.
When the cops arrived on the scene, they realized the shots had come from Spencer’s house. Despite the fact that the cops sent negotiators to speak with her, she refused to cooperate. She warned authorities that she was still armed and threatened to “come out shooting” if she was forced to leave her house, according to the San Diego Police Museum.
The standoff lasted more than six hours in total. During this time, Spencer conducted her infamous phone interview with The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Spencer eventually surrendered peacefully. Before she finally came outside, one negotiator remembered promising her a Burger King Whopper.
The Imprisonment Of Brenda Ann Spencer
Brenda Spencer had shot at the school with a BB gun a year before, it was revealed after the attack. Even though she broke the windows, she did not injure anyone. She had been arrested for both that crime and burglary, but she was eventually given probation.
Spencer’s probation officer had recommended that she spend some time in a mental hospital for depression just a few months after the BB gun incident. Wallace Spencer, on the other hand, reportedly refused to admit her, claiming that he could handle his daughter’s mental health issues on his own.
Instead, he spent his money on the weapon that his daughter would later use to attack the school. Brenda Ann Spencer later explained, “I asked for a radio, and he bought me a gun.” “I had the impression he wanted me to commit suicide.”
The teen’s attorneys considered entering an insanity plea, but it never materialised. Brenda Spencer, who was only 16 at the time of the shooting, was charged as an adult due to the gravity of her crimes.
In 1980, she pleaded guilty to two counts of murder, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. Despite the fact that nine counts of attempted murder were eventually dropped from the case, Spencer was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for her crimes.
Her attorneys maintained that the treatment she received from her father, which allegedly included sexual abuse, was the true cause of her senseless violence. (Contrary to popular belief, Wallace Spencer later married one of his daughter’s 17-year-old cellmates who bore an uncanny resemblance to her.) However, this argument has never persuaded the parole board.
Brenda Ann Spencer, 60, remains imprisoned at the California Institution for Women in Corona to this day.
“I Don’t Like Mondays’ Haunting Legacy”
Though the name Brenda Ann Spencer may not be familiar today, her story and the phrase for which she became famous have lived on in infamy.
Bob Geldof, the lead singer of the Irish rock band The Boomtown Rats, wrote a song titled “I Don’t Like Mondays” in response to the tragic shooting. The song, which was released just months after the attack, topped the UK charts for four weeks and received extensive airplay in the US.
According to The Advertiser, Spencer was taken with the song. “She wrote to me and said she was glad she did it because I made her famous,” Geldof explained. “Which is not something you want to live with.”
Spencer’s murderous plot was not the first attack on an American school, but it was one of the first modern school shootings that resulted in multiple deaths and injuries. Some believe she influenced subsequent school shootings, such as the Columbine High School massacre, the Virginia Tech shooting, and the Parkland mass murder.
In an interview with The San Diego Union-Tribune, Richard Sachs, a San Diego County deputy district attorney, said, “She hurt so many people and had so much to do with starting a deadly trend in America.”
Despite her efforts to minimize her own crime, Spencer has admitted that her actions may have resulted in other similar attacks. In fact, she told the parole board in 2001, “With every school shooting, I feel partially responsible.” “What if what I did inspired them?”