Special Report

The Guns Used in the 20 Worst School Shootings in US History

5. Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, TX (May 18, 2018)
> Guns used: 12-gauge Remington 870 short-barreled shotgun, Rossi .38-caliber snub-nosed revolver
> Gun types: One revolver, one shotgun
> Gun obtained legally: Unclear — guns were father’s
> Victims: 10 killed, 13 wounded

Dimitrios Pagourtzis, clad in a black trench coat, walked into an art classroom at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, and started firing his weapons. Eight teenage students and two teachers were killed and 13 were wounded. He spared those students he liked. Pagourtzis barricaded the classroom for 30 minutes before surrendering to the police. Police found documents in his home about the planned attack as well as improvised explosive devices, which were also found at the school. In addition, there were online posts about being “born to kill.”

This past February, a judge in Galveston County ordered Pagourtzis to remain at a state-run hospital for up to 12 more months, further delaying the trial.

Source: Michael Ciaglo / Getty Images News via Getty Images

4. Columbine High School in Littleton, CO (Apr 20, 1999)
> Guns used: Hi-Point model 995 carbine rifle, Sawed-off pump-action Savage-Springfield 67H shotgun, TEC-DC9 9-mm semi-automatic handgun, Double-barrel Savage 311-D sawed-off shotgun
> Gun types: One assault-style rifle, one semi-automatic handgun, two shotguns
> Gun obtained legally: Unclear — straw purchase made by friend at Tanner Gun Show in Denver, CO, and directly from an individual
> Victims: 13 killed, 24 wounded

The Columbine High School massacre in 1999 was the worst school shooting in the nation’s history to that point, igniting a national debate about gun control and serving as the subject matter for Michael Moore’s anti-gun polemic “Bowling For Columbine.” The perpetrators were high school seniors Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris. They had intended to set off a 20-pound propane bomb in the school cafeteria during the late morning of April 20, 1999. When it failed to detonate, the pair, wearing trench coats and armed to the teeth, began shooting fellow students outside the school. They then went inside and gunned down others, many in the library. They had killed 12 students and a teacher and wounded 24 others in less than 20 minutes. Shortly after 12 p.m., the two teens killed themselves after the police had surrounded the school.

Investigators eventually discovered that Klebold and Harris had been planning for a year to bomb the school in an attack similar to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

Source: Joe Raedle / Getty Images News via Getty Images

3. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL (Feb 14, 2018)
> Guns used: Smith & Wesson M&P 15 rifle
> Gun types: Assault-style rifle
> Gun obtained legally: Yes — bought at Florida pawn shop
> Victims: 17 killed, 17 wounded

Valentine’s Day in 2018 was seared with heartbreak when gunman Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people and wounded 17 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Law enforcement authorities said Cruz activated a fire alarm to bring people outside to increase casualties. The attack by the former Parkland high school student prompted a wave of student-led protests, including a huge demonstration in Washington, D.C. It led to bipartisan legislation in Florida that was signed by Gov. Rick Scott that raised the age to buy firearms in the state and increased mental health resources for students. The atrocity also led to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act that allows some teachers to be armed.

Cruz, who had a history of mental issues, including depression, had posted his interest on school shootings online. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Source: Jordan Vonderhaar / Getty Images News via Getty Images

2. Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX (May 24, 2022)
> Guns used: Daniel Defense DDM4 V7 rifle
> Gun types: Assault-style rifle
> Gun obtained legally: Yes
> Victims: 21 killed, 18 wounded

The worst school shooting in Texas occurred last year when Salvador Ramos, 18, fatally shot 19 students ages 8 to 11 and two teachers and wounded 18 others at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. Ramos, armed with a Daniel Defense DDM4 V7 rifle, barricaded himself inside adjoining classrooms, where he shot and killed children and their teachers who tried to shield them. Ramos was eventually killed by responding officers. The reaction by law enforcement remains a controversial subject. Among the questions asked were how and why the shooter managed to remain inside the school for more than an hour before law enforcement shot him dead.

Just before he initiated the horrific attack, Ramos allegedly sent text messages to a teenage girl in Europe whom he had met online about how he had just shot his grandmother and would “shoot up a(n) elementary school.” In earlier online posts, Ramos had displayed an AR-platform rifle, a backpack with rounds of ammunition, and several ammo magazines via online to a classmate. He also threatened to attack women he met online who rebuffed his sexual advances.

1. Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT (Dec 14, 2012)
> Guns used: Bushmaster semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifle, Glock 10mm pistol, Sig-Sauer 9mm pistol
> Gun types: One assault-style rifle, two semi-automatic handguns, one shotgun
> Gun obtained legally: No — stolen from mother
> Victims: 26 killed, 0 wounded

No school shooting has affected the national psyche quite like the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. On Dec. 14, 2012, 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, in their home in Newtown with a .22-caliber rifle. She had purchased the rifle and an AR-15 and several other firearms that Lanza would use later. Before leaving the house, Lanza destroyed his computer’s hard drive, which would make evidence gathering difficult for law enforcement.

Lanza drove to Sandy Hook Elementary School for kindergarten through fourth grade where he shot 26 people, 20 of them children – the majority of whom were 6 or 7 years old. He fired 156 shots in five minutes, shouting “Look at me” and screaming obscenities before killing himself. At his home, police found a 7×4 spreadsheet listing the top 500 mass killings with weapons used and a scoresheet. Police also discovered a safe with more than 1,400 rounds of ammunition, other weapons, and a photo of Lanza holding a gun to his head. The school would be demolished in 2014 and replaced by a new building in 2016.

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