WASHINGTON (AFP) – Eighteen students and three adults, including at least one teacher, were shot dead on Tuesday (May 25) when an 18-year-old gunman opened fire at their Texas elementary school, the latest in the United States’ relentless cycle of school mass shootings.
Here are America’s deadliest classroom gun massacres in the last two decades.
Columbine High School (1999)
Two teenagers from Columbine, Colorado, armed with an assortment of weapons and homemade bombs, went on a rampage at their local high school.
Twelve students and a teacher were killed during the April 20 massacre. Another 24 people were wounded.
Columbine, whose name has become synonymous with school shootings, is one of the first – and still among the deadliest – such shootings in the United States.
Virginia Tech (2007)
A South Korean student at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute opened fire on the Blacksburg, Virginia, campus, killing 32 students and professors before committing suicide.
Thirty-three people were wounded.
The gunman had apparently idolised the Columbine shooters, referring to them as “martyrs” in a video, part of a hate-filled manifesto he mailed to police during the shooting.
Sandy Hook Elementary School (2012)
A 20-year-old man with a history of mental health issues killed his mother in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14 before blasting his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Twenty children, aged six and seven, were shot dead, as well as six adults. The shooter then committed suicide.
The parents of Sandy Hook victims have led numerous campaigns to toughen gun control laws, but their efforts have largely failed.
Some conspiracy theorists insist the massacre was a government hoax, claiming the shooting involved “actors” in a plot to discredit the gun lobby.