See the CNN list at the end of this blog for the names of the most famous mass murderers in recent US history.
Currently, mass murderers are thought to be school shooters and others who shoot up churches, shopping centers, health care facilities. Sometimes they are considered political terrorists, In the early decades of mass murderers, they were thought to be those who killed many in a family dispute around a neighborhood (Unruh) or climbed a tower (Whitman).
Since serial killers are so different from mass murderers, they are treated as a special sub category. See pull down menu for serial killers.
There are a wide variety of ways that homicides with more than several victims might be classified. Such incidents can be, and have been even in recent decades, classified many different ways including “as a mass shooting; a school shooting; a mass murder; an act of workplace violence; an act involving an assault rifle; an act of a mentally ill person committing acts of violence; and so on.
How such rarely occurring incidents of homicide are classified tends to change significantly with time. In the 1960s and 1970s a key feature was a high body count. These early discussions of mass murder lumped together a variety of cases that varied along what would come to be seen as important dimensions:
- Time: Did the killings occur more or less simultaneously, or did they extend over several days, months, or years?
- Place: Did the killings occur in a single location, or in a variety of places?
- Method: How were the victims killed?”
In the late 1900s and early 2000s, the most popular classifications have included the above-noted method, time and place.
Multicide is a term often used that includes
- serial killings, the FBI defines them as “a series of two or more murders, committed as separate events, usually, but not always, by one offender acting alone”
- spree killings, usually done by a male duo, on the run, killing as they go to avoid capture
- mass shootings, rampage killings done with guns.
- rampage killings, shootings that garner a lots of media attention. See RAMPAGE KILLINGS below for list of major US events over the decades.
The following yearly lists can be found on individual pages at GunViolenceArchive.org, run by a nonprofit entity.
2013 Mass Shooting List
2014 Mass Shooting List
2015 Mass Shooting List
2016 Mass Shooting List
2017 Mass Shootings List
2018 Mass Shootings List
Changes: as of 2016, the data on shootingtracker.com complies with the standard Gun Violence Archive methodology on how mass shootings are counted.
Gun Violence Archive has always used an FBI-derived definition. See, too, Gun Violence Archive Methodology
“(CNN) Here’s a look at rampage killings that have occurred in the United States since the 1940s. Includes incidents with four or more killed (not including the perpetrators). Not included are suicides, gang-related incidents or deaths resulting from domestic conflicts.
Includes incidents on college campuses as well as other public places. For incidents in K-12 schools, see US School Violence Fast Facts. See also Deadliest Mass Shootings in US History Fast Facts.
November 7, 2018 – Twelve people are killed in a shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, California. Officials say the gunman, Ian David Long, shot an unarmed security guard outside the bar, then went in and continued shooting, injuring other security workers, employees and patrons.
November 14, 2017 – Kevin Janson Neal, who is out on bail, shoots and kills four people in Rancho Tehama, California. Police then kill him. During the investigation, police find that Neal had killed his wife the previous night.
September 23, 2016 – Five people die after a gunman opens fire at a Washington state mall in Burlington, an hour north of Seattle. Suspect Arcan Cetin, 20, is taken into custody after a nearly 24-hour manhunt. He later dies by suicide in jail.
December 2, 2015 – Married couple Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 29, open fire during a holiday party at Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, killing 14 people.Farook and Malik are later gunned down by police.
May 23, 2014 – A college student, Elliott Rodger, 22, kills six people near the University of California, Santa Barbara campus. He later dies of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
September 16, 2013 – Twelve people are killed at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington. The shooter, Aaron Alexis, 34, later dies in a gun battle with police.
August 5, 2012 – Six people are killed and four wounded when Wade Michael Page, 40, opens fire with a Springfield 9mm semi-automatic handgun at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Page dies from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
October 12, 2011 – Scott Evans Dekraai, 41, opens fire at the Salon Meritage in Seal Beach, California, killing eight, including his ex-wife, and injuring one. He is armed with three guns — a 9 mm Springfield, a Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum, and a Heckler & Koch .45 — and wears body armor during the rampage. After a delay of several years due to allegations of prosecutorial misconduct, Dekraai is sentenced on September 22, 2017, to eight consecutive terms of life in prison without parole, plus an additional term of 232 years to life for attempted murder.
August 3, 2010 – At a beverage distribution center in Manchester, Connecticut, Omar Thornton, 34, kills eight co-workers before turning the gun on himself. Thornton had been asked to resign for stealing and selling alcoholic beverages.
November 5, 2009 – Major Nidal Malik Hasan, 39, kills 13 people and an unborn child and injures 32 at Fort Hood in Texas. In 2013, a military jury convicts Hasan of 13 counts of murder and 32 counts of attempted murder. He is sentenced to death.
September 2, 2008 – In Skagit County, Washington, Isaac Zamora, 28, kills five people and a police officer during a two-hour rampage. Zamora is sentenced in November 2009 to a life term.
December 9, 2007 – Matthew Murray, 24, shoots and kills four people during two attacks in Colorado Springs and Arvada, Colorado. In the first attack, he guns down two people at the Youth with a Mission religious complex after a Christmas banquet. Hours later, Murray kills two teen girls in a parking lot at the New Life Church. A security guard shoots Murray several times, but police rule his death a suicide.
March 25, 2006 – In Seattle, Kyle Huff, 28, leaves a house party and returns with a shotgun and handgun. He kills six people and wounds two others. When confronted by police, he kills himself.
March 12, 2005 – In Brookfield, Wisconsin, Terry Ratzmann, 44, kills seven people during a church group meeting at a Sheraton Hotel in Brookfield. He then kills himself.
December 8, 2004 – In Columbus, Ohio, Nathan Gale, 25, storms the stage at a rock concert and kills Pantera guitarist “Dimedag” Darrell Abbott, as well as three concertgoers. Gale is then killed by a police officer.
October 3, 2001 – In Manchester, Tennessee, Damir Igric, 29, attacks the driver of a Greyhound bus, cutting his throat. Igric and five passengers are killed in the bus crash.
April 28, 2000 – Immigration lawyer, Richard Baumhammers, 34, kills five people during racially motivated attacks in suburban Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is convicted and sentenced to death. Baumhammers’ execution is stayed in 2014.
September 15, 1999 – In Fort Worth, Texas, Larry Gene Ashbrook, 47, bursts into the Wedgwood Baptist Church during a youth rally and kills seven people. He then takes his own life.
September 14, 1989 – In Louisville, Kentucky, Joseph Wesbecker, 47, kills eight co-workers at a printing office before dying by suicide. He was armed with a AK-47 assault rifle, two MAC-11 semiautomatic pistols, a .38 caliber handgun, a 9-millimeter semiautomatic pistol and a bayonet. He had been placed on disability leave from his job due to emotional problems.
August 26, 1977 – Emil Benoist, 20, kills six people, targeting joggers and motorcyclists as he walks along railroad tracks in Hackettstown, New Jersey. Armed with a .44-caliber rifle, Benoist takes his own life after being approached by police.
August 1, 1966 – Charles Joseph Whitman, 24, kills 16 and wounds more than 30 from a tower at the University of Texas in Austin. Police officers shoot and kill Whitman in the tower. Whitman, who trained as a Marine marksman, had also killed his mother and wife earlier in the day.
September 5, 1949 – In Camden, New Jersey, Howard Unruh, 28, shoots and kills 13 people with a Luger pistol as he walks around his neighborhood. Police take him into custody after a gun battle. The WWII veteran is diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and committed to a state psychiatric hospital. He dies at the age of 88.”