The world is witnessing a steep rise in shootings and terror attacks recently. While most mass shootings have been carried out by terrorists, a large number of them have been carried out by one or more individuals with no terror motive. The psychology behind mass shootings is yet to be determined. Many of the shooters are usually mentally ill and want an outlet. Poor gun laws in many countries has led to an increase in shootings. Following is a list of the top 20 deadliest mass shootings ever recorded in history, which shocked people across the world with their brutality.
1. Peshawar School Massacre
In an attack that garnered shock from all across the world, seven Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP) terrorists entered the Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan, and shot and killed over 141 people. Over 132 schoolchildren between the ages of 8 and 18 were shot and killed. However, the Pakistani Army managed to rescue over 960 people and killed all seven terrorists. It is often referred to as the worst and deadliest terror attack in Pakistan.
2. The Beslan Massacre
In an attack similar to the Peshawar school massacre, over 1,100 people were taken hostage by Islamic terrorists in Beslan, North Ossetia on 1 September 2004. The terrorists reportedly wanted recognition of Chechnya’s independence and wanted UN and Russia to withdraw from Chechnya. The hostage situation lasted three days and after the Russian security forces stormed the building, the terrorists killed over 330 people, including 186 children.
3. 26/11 Mumbai Attacks
The 2008 Mumbai attacks which started on November 26, 2008 and went on for four days ended with the killing of 164 people and left 308 injured. Shootings were carried out at many many landmarks of the city like Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Oberoi Trident, Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, Leopold Cafe, Cama Hospital, Nariman House Jewish Community centre, Metro Cinema and near St. Xavier’s College. The attack was carried out by members of Lashkar-e-Taiba and the main terrorist accused in the attack was Ajmal Kasab, who was later sentenced to death.
4. 2015 Paris Attacks
In November 2015, Paris witnessed a series of attacks via mass shootings and bombings across the city in cafes and restaurants. Over 130 people were killed in shootings and the bombings and over 368 were injured. Out of the 130 people, over 89 were killed at the Bataclan theatre, which had been threatened earlier due to their public support for Israel. The attacks were touted as the worst and deadliest attack in the European Union.
5. École Polytechnique Massacre
In one of the worst public mass shootings in Canada, the École Polytechnique massacre or Montreal Massacre which took place on December 6, 1989. Marc Lepine, a 25-year-old entered the École Polytechnique university in Montreal and began shooting the female students in classrooms. He claimed that he was ‘fighting feminism’. He shot 28 people and killed 14 women, then turned the gun on himself and committed suicide.
6. South Korea Massacre
On the night of April 26, 1982, Woo Bum-kon, a South Korean policeman, went on a mass shooting spree and killed over 56 innocent victims. He had reportedly gotten drunk at the police station and went and attacked his live-in girlfriend. Post that, he gathered ammunition and began shooting people in the post office, a village, and even killed a family in their beds. He then detonated a grenade, killing himself and three others.
7. Norway Attacks 2011
In a double attack termed as the deadliest attack in Norway since World War II, Anders Behring Breivik claimed over 77 lives in both a car explosion and mass shooting. Breivik assumed a false identity to get into the Workers’ Youth League (AUF-) run summer camp, and opened fire at all the campers. He managed to shoot and kill 69 victims while a car explosion near Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg’s office killed 8 people. He was convicted of terrorism and sentenced to 21 years in prison.
8. Sandy Hook Elementary School Shootings
In one of the terrifying attacks in the United States, Adam Peter Lanza, a 20-year-old, entered the Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012, and shot and killed over 26 people, out of which 20 were children between the ages of 6 and 7 years. He started his rampage by shooting his mother in their home, then after killing the victims at the school, he committed suicide.
9. Dunblane School Massacre 1996
Thomas Watt Hamilton, the perpetrator of the attacks, entered Dunblane Elementary School in Scotland in 1996 with four guns and shot and killed over 28 students and 3 children in the gym within four minutes. He then committed suicide. The attack initiated a public debate over firearms, and two laws were passed which restricted private ownership of firearms in the UK.
10. Orlando Nightclub Shooting
Termed as the deadliest mass shooting in the United States committed by a lone gunman, the Orlando Nightclub Shooting took place on the night on June 12, 2016. Omar Mateen, an ISIL terrorist, entered a gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando and opened fire. He managed to shoot and kill over 50 victims. He held victims hostage for three hours and was killed soon after by Orlando police.
11. 2008 Virgina Tech Massacre
In another attack with a single perpetrator, on April 26, 2007, Seung-Hui-Cho, a student at the Virginia Tech University in the United States, shot and killed over 32 people and managed to injure 17 others. He reportedly had a severe anxiety disorder. He committed suicide after the attack. The attacks led to widespread criticism of poor gun laws in the United States.
12. San Ysidro McDonald’s Massacre
On July 18, 1984, James Huberty, a 41-year-old, entered a McDonald’s restaurant in San Diego and managed to shoot and kill over 21 people. A day prior to the incident, he had tried to book an appointment at a clinic for a mental problem but received no response. Reportedly, the receptionist felt his tone didn’t convey immediate response. He then told his wife he was ‘going to hunt humans’ and went on the shooting rampage.
13. Luby’s Shooting 1991
On October 16, 1991, George Hennard drove his pickup truck right into Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, United States, and immediately opened fire and killed 23 people. The restaurant was more crowded than usual due to National Boss’s Day, and Hennard managed to injure over 27 people more before shooting himself after being wounded by police.
14. The Columbine High School Massacre
One of the most documented mass shooting cases which inspired many such shootings was the Columbine High School Massacre on April 20, 1999. Two students of Columbine High, Eric Harris, and Dylan Klebold, shot and killed 12 students and one teacher at the school. Originally, they planned to bomb the school, and if they bomb had gone off, over 488 people in the school would have died. The attack was preplanned for a long time and Eric Harris had in fact mentioned on his private website that he possessed explosives. Both students committed suicide after the massacre.
15. Aurora Shooting 2012
A midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises took a bloody turn after a gunman entered the Century 16 movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado and began shooting randomly at the audience. Over 12 people were killed and 70 were injured as a result. The perpetrator was identified as James Eagan Holmes, who was arrested in his car as he was trying to get away. He pleaded not guilty due to reason of insanity, but his plea was dismissed and he was sentenced to prison for life.
16. 2002 Akshardham Temple Attack
On 24 September 2002, two terrorists Murtuza Hafiz Yasin and Ashraf Ali Mohammed Farooq entered the Akshardham Temple in Gandhinagar, Gujarat in India. They used firearms and hand grenades to kill over 33 people inside the temple. Over 80 were left injured in the attack. Both terrorists were killed by Gujarat police on the same day.
17. Tasmania Mass Shooting
A mass shooting occurred in Port Arthur in Tasmania, Australia, by perpetrator Martin Bryant. He targeted a bed-and-breakfast on April 28, 1996. His father had tried to buy the property but he got outbid, leading to Bryant’s fury. He first killed the couple who outbid his father and then went to a cafeteria. He shot 20 people in the cafeteria and fired at cars in a toll booth and ended his rampage when he was cornered and arrested by police. He was charged with 35 counts of murder.
18. Erfurt Massacre 2002
The Erfurt school massacre was an attack carried out by 19-year-old Robert Steinhauser, who shot and killed 16 people in the Erfurt. He was allegedly expelled from Erfurt due to forgery of documents. He entered the school on 26 April 2002 and began his rampage, and committed suicide before authorities could catch him. Germany’s gun control laws were beefed up post the incident.
19. Sousse Mass Shooting 2015
Over 39 people died on 26 June 2015, when an armed gunman Seifeddine Rezgui Yacoubi opened fire at the tourists at Sousse Beach Resort in Tunisia. The perpetrator was allegedly under the influence of cocaine during the attack. It was termed the deadliest attack in modern Tunisian history.
20. Hungerford Massacre 1987
The Hungerford Massacre was the name given to the attack on 19 August 1987 in Hungerford, England, perpetrated by unemployed handyman Michael Robert Ryan. He randomly shot at people at several locations and shot at over 30 people, killing 16. He then committed suicide. The incident resulted in the Firearms Act 1988 which banned individuals from owning semi-automatic centre-fire rifles.
You may have noticed while reading the article that we have not added the image of the shooters. Most of the mass shootings prompt media to plaster all details about the shooter, which indirectly gives them what they always wanted- attention. We choose to look at the victims, hoping that their martyrdom will bring about a more just world, where massacres like these will no longer exist.