Reports state that violent crime is on the rise in United States, increasing 18 percent just last year after the crime rate was thought to have begun to decline 20 years ago.
In 2012, the nation has seen a string of deadly rampages like no year before. As yesterday’s shooting spree at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut marked one the of most deadly school shootings in American history, it added onto a long list of violent crimes that erupted throughout the year.
One of the first tragedies of the year involved a former Oikos University student who had dropped out of school months prior, and ended up killing seven of his classmates at point-blank range.
The gunman, One L. Goh, 43, had been a nursing student at the Christian university in Oakland, and is believed to have returned to the school to kill an administrator. However, when the staff member did not show up at work that day, Goh took his frustrations out on others.
He is stated to have shoved a secretary at the university into a classroom, where Goh ordered the students gathered to line up against the wall. When some refused to do so, he opened fire.
Five students died at the scene, and two others passed away at the hospital. Three were wounded in the incident.
“We’ve learned that this was a very chaotic, calculated and determined gentleman that came there with a very specific intent to kill people, and that’s what his motive was and that’s what he carried out,” said Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan.
Goh left the building following the incident, and as police arrived at the scene, they found students in an extremely emotional state.
“Officers found several victims throughout the classroom — throughout the building,” Jordan explained. “There were several people hiding in locked buildings, locked doors, behind desks. As you can imagine, very frightened. Very scared. Some of them were injured, so we had to rescue them out.”
An hour after the incident, Goh walked into a grocery store, where to told a clerk, “I just shot some people.” Police then arrested Goh, who was later charged with seven counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder.
Reports state that Goh had also been dealing with tax problems and had lost two loved ones over the past year.
During a midnight showing of the Batman film The Dark Knight Rises, a college student that was in the process of dropping out of his classes launched an armed assault upon the scores of attendees at the Century 16 Theater in Aurora, Colorado.
According to eyewitness reports, 24-year-old James Holmes purchased a ticket and sat in the theater for some time prior to its showing, and then left the building to return approximately 30 minutes later. When he reappeared through an exit door that he had propped open, he was dressed in bullet-proof gear and a gas mask, and was armed with a number of rifles and pistols. He also had gas canisters in his hand, which he thew into the crowd.
Movie-goers state that at first, they were not sure if Holmes — and the fog that subsequently filled the room — was part of the movie. When he began to open fire, however, and crowd members began screaming and falling to the floor for safety, they knew something was terribly wrong. Many tried to escape with their lives, tripping over those that lay dead upon the floor. Some tried to help others to safety.
Due to the massive amount of phone calls that were placed to 911, over 200 police officers, ambulances and emergency personnel arrived at the theater within minutes.
Holmes was arrested without incident in the parking lot, where he told police upon seizure that he was the Joker, the enemy of Batman. He also announced that his apartment was booby-trapped with explosives.
The incident left 12 dead and 58 injured, including a 6-year-old girl, and Holmes faces 166 charges related to the deadly attack.
On a Sunday morning while services were underway, a man walked into a Shikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin and began gunning down attendees.
When police arrived at the scene, in addition to finding two victims dead in the parking lot, they located the suspect, Wade Page, a white supremacist.
As police chased Page across the temple property, much gunfire was exchanged.
“He shot me in the back of the skull,” Lieutenant Brian Murphy told reporters, who was hit a total of twelve times.
A second officer, Sam Lenda, arrived on the scene and also began firing at Page after his windshield exploded from gunfire.
“He was on a mission,” Lenda said. “I say, I confronted evil in the parking lot. And evil was not gonna leave there.”
Page later shot himself in the head, ending the confrontation with police.
Days later, a former employee for a clothing company in New York City shot his co-worker to death outside of the Empire State Building.
Jeffrey Johnson, 58, had reportedly been laid off from work a year prior and was angry with the president of sales after keeping in communication with his former co-worker. He wore a business suit and carried a suitcase on the morning of the incident, and waited for the salesman to arrive outside of the building.
“Without any conversation, he shot him once in the head and then shot him in the torso,” explained New York City Commissioner Ray Kelly.
Johnson then proceeded down the street, where he was soon pursued by police, who took aim at the gunman after he drew his pistol. He was shot dead at the scene. Nine others were injured in the exchange of gunfire.
“He was the nicest guy. He must have snapped or something. I don’t know,” Johnson’s neighbor Gisella Casella told reporters.
Weeks after the New York incident, a man in Minneapolis, Minnesota killed his manager and co-workers after he was told that he was being fired from his job.
Andrew Engeldinger, 36, was employed with Accent Signage Systems where he worked as a sign maker. Upon being informed by managers John Souter and Rami Crooks at the end of the day that he was being terminated, Engeldinger reportedly replied, “Oh, really?” and pulled out a gun.
A struggle then ensued and Souter made his way out of the room to call upon others to dial 911.
Owner Reuven Rahamim then came out of his office and rushed to help the wounded, but Engeldinger shot him dead. His secretary hid under her desk.
It is reported that Engeldinger then made his way down the hall to take aim at other employees — all male. He avoided shooting any of the women in the office.
A UPS driver was also shot during the incident, who died from his injuries.
Police soon surrounded the building, and later found Engeldinger dead in the basement from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was sitting in a chair with the pistol laying at this feet.
Engeldinger’s parents reportedly told police that the man had struggled with mental issues, and that he had not had contact with them for two years.
A month later, a man killed three people and wounded four others at a spa in Milwaukee, Wisconsin after he opened fire on his estranged wife.
Radcliffe Haughton, 45, had a restraining order against him when he entered the building to confront his wife, where she worked as a hairstylist. Haughton had been out of work, and his wife had been helping to pay the couple’s bills until she left.
Zina Haughton had written in court documents that her husband had threatened to throw acid in her face and that he had also vowed to burn her and her family with gas as he believed that she was having an affair. She stated that she was afraid of Haughton because he terrorized her “every waking moment.” He had been arrested earlier in the month for slashing his wife’s tires.
One eyewitness to the incident states that he saw a woman come running out of the spa and into traffic, pounding on cars for help. A man then emerged from the building and appeared to be chasing the woman, but eventually went back inside.
A witness at the spa told reporters that Zina tried to appease her husband before the shooting broke out, asking, “Anything we can give you? Anything you want?”
Haughton then grabbed his wife and pulled her around the corner, where he gunned her down. Two other women were also killed before he shot himself in the head.
Haughton was also reported to have started a fire inside of the building, but the sprinkler system helped to put it out.
Earlier this week, a gunman began firing in a crowded shopping mall near Portland, Oregon, killing two and injuring a third.
Police have identified the assailant as 22-year-old Jacob Roberts, who seemed to have premeditated his attack on the Clackamas Town Center on Tuesday. Reports state that he was wearing a load-bearing vest and carried a semi-automatic rifle, and aimed to take out “anyone in his line of sight . . . on a mission set forth to take the lives of people in that mall.”
Upon hearing gunfire break out, many shoppers ran for cover. Some burst out of the exits, while others hid behind racks and ducked behind checkout counters in an effort to not be seen by Roberts. He had headed for the food court to begin his onslaught.
One man told reporters that he attempted to help one of the victims that had been gunned down.
“She had apparently been shot in the chest, and I couldn’t get her turned over to help her,” explained Antonio Charro, who had been shopping with his daughters. “There was no one around. She wasn’t breathing.”
Roberts turned the gun on himself in the mall, and died at the scene.
“There were 10,000 people in the mall at the time,” said Sheriff Craig Roberts, of no known relation to the gunman. “There are a number of heroes that took the time to help a lot of people get out. I want to thank the whole community.”
Reports state that Roberts had quit his job and sold all of his belongings prior to the attack. His Facebook cover also read “Follow your dreams” with the word “canceled” stamped over the phrase.
Other Major Incidents
In addition to these incidents, and the deadly shooting spree at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday, a number of other major violent rampages have taken place in America in recent years, such as the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 that killed 32, the Binghamton, New York massacre that slaughtered 13 in 2009, the Columbine tragedy in 1999 that took the lives of 12 students and a teacher, and the West Nickel Mines School shooting that took the lives of five Amish girls in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
The foiled attack on the offices of Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. this past August, where a gunman loaded with both ammunition and Chick-fil-A sandwiches fired at a guard after being stopped from making it past the lobby of the Christian organization, also appeared to be part of a planned mass rampage.
“Any police chief in the country would be wise to be concerned,” Eugene O’Donnell, professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told reporters last year when Justice Department figures were released, detailing the increase of violent crime in America. “If you dig into these numbers, you can see the seeds of larger problems.”
Main photo: Yumi Kimura