FLASHBACK: “I Don’t Like Mondays”

Remember this song from the 1980’s, “I Don’t Like Mondays?”

I was talking to the other two gym goddesses this morning about this song by the Boomtown Rats, led by Bob Geldolf, which is my Monday morning alarm song. Remember it? You may not remember that it was inspired by a January, 1979 school shooting.

From The New York Daily News:
Monday mornings are tough for everyone, but on Jan. 29, 1979, a freckle-faced red headed teen found a unique way to sing the beginning-of-the-week blues.

The first note of her displeasure — a rifle crack — came at around 8:30 a.m., just as a bell rang to signal the start of classes at Grover Cleveland Elementary in San Carlos, Calif., a suburb of San Diego.

Children waiting in front of the school started to fall to the ground, bleeding. The sounds of gunfire continued.

It took a few shots before the pupils, parents, and teachers realized what was happening. A sniper, somewhere in the row of houses across the street from the school, was using kids for target practice.

With children screaming and bullets flying, Cleveland elementary’s principal, Burton Wragg, 53, ran outside to help the victims and move the other children, who were paralyzed with fear, out of harm’s way. There was another pop and Wragg fell, shot in the chest. Mike Suchar, 56, the school custodian, rushed out to help the dying principal and was also shot. Teachers and students barricaded themselves in the school, while nurses treated the wounded. Four victims, however, were still outside.

San Diego police officer Robert Robb, first to arrive at the scene, got a bullet in his neck.

The shooting continued until another officer, aided by a security guard from a neighboring high school, commandeered a garbage truck and drove it in front of Cleveland Elementary, blocking the sniper’s sightlines. …

Here’s a shocker. The shooter Brenda Spencer was another casualty of divorce.

The girl with the soft voice, solid aim, and reluctance to return to school after the weekend was not-so-sweet 16-year-old Brenda Ann Spencer. She was the youngest child of Wallace Spencer, an audio-visual specialist at a nearby college, and his wife, Dot. Until her parents divorced in 1972 she seemed a normal happy child, a bit of a tomboy. She was active in several sports, an animal lover, and a talented photographer.

That bright little girl vanished after the family split up, and a judge awarded custody of all three children to their emotionally distant father. The tiny redhead, described by one acquaintance as “no bigger than a bar of soap,” became sullen, withdrawn and strange

In case you’re wondering, Ms. Spencer is still in jail. Her next chance for parole is 2019.

One comment

  1. On a hunch, a reporter from a local paper dialed the phone number at the address police had pinpointed as the sniper’s nest. A young girl answered. The reporter asked if she knew where the shots were coming from. She rattled off the address of her house. When the reporter pointed out that it was her own address, she said, “Yeah, who do you think’s doing the shooting?”
    The next question, the obvious one, was why?
    “I don’t like Mondays. This livens up the day,” she told him.
    Her crime is seen as a turning point in American history, the first of its kind in the country. Brenda would become known as the mother of such schoolyard massacres as Columbine and Newtown.
    In a 2001 statement, she acknowledged her possible role as the inspiration for later generations of angry young monsters. “With every school shooting, I feel I’m partially responsible,” she said. “What if they got the idea from what I did?”

    Too bad that CA did not have the Death Penalty.

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