Brenda Spencer was born on April 3rd 1962 in San Diego, California. She grew up under the shadow of epilepsy and depression. Her hobbies included violent TV shows, shooting with her BB gun and petty theft. Neighbours reported that she repeatedly abused cats and dogs in the area.
On the morning of January 29th 1979 at the age of 16 Brenda Spencer lay in wait in her house, directly opposite her school the Grover Cleveland elementary. She had a 22 caliber rifle in her hand, a Christmas present from her father Wallace. She also received 500 rounds of ammunition for the weapon.
Brenda was waiting for the principal to open up and the children to arrive at school. At 8.30am she opened fire. After 20 minutes she had killed Principal Burton Wragg aged 53, Caretaker Mike Suchar aged 56 died when he ran to help the principal. She also wounded 8 children and 1 police officer.
The police managed to drive a rubbish truck in front of her house, blocking the line of fire. After negotiations, which lasted a further 6 hours Spencer finally gave herself up. Inside the house police found the rifle and 40 empty shell casings. When asked by a reporter why she did it, Spencer replied “I don’t like Monday’s”
Brenda Spencer was one of the first children to commit a school shooting. At her trial she pleaded guilty to 2 counts of murder and assault with a deadly weapon, she was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. Spencer currently resides at the Frontera Women’s prison in California. She was up for parole in April 2001 for the third time where she expressed her feelings about the shootings and the reasons why she did it.
She claims that she lived in an abusive house where her father beat and sexually abused her up to the age of 14. She says that she asked for a radio for Christmas, but her father gave her the gun. Spencer also believes that she was given mind altering drugs at the time of the original trial.
Principal Wragg’s widow attended the hearing and spoke out saying she hopes that Spencer never gets out of prison. Parole was again denied, the next hearing is in 2005.
Her father Wallace Spencer is now married to a young girl who was in juvenile detention with Brenda at the beginning. They still live in the same house across the street from the Elementary School.
Follow up -
The Boomtown Rats wrote a song about the above events after hearing about the crime on the news. The song titled “I don’t like Monday’s” was a hit single.