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May 10, 2017

In 1979, 16-Year-Old Brenda Spencer Killed 2 People. When Asked Why She Did It? “I Don’t Like Mondays.”

Brenda Ann Spencer (born April 3, 1962) is a convicted American murderer who carried out a shooting spree from her home in San Diego, on January 29, 1979.

San Diego police officers Patty Bernathy and Ted Kasniak escort Brenda Spencer to homicide investigators after the shootings at Cleveland Elementary School in 1979.(Barry Fitsimmons/San Diego Union-Tribune)

During the shooting spree, she killed two people and injured nine others at Cleveland Elementary School, which was located across the street from her home.

Spencer is best known for her quote “I don’t like Mondays,” which inspired the song “I Don’t Like Mondays” by The Boomtown Rats. The song was a UK number one single for four weeks in mid-1979.

School shooting inspired Bob Geldof, lead singer of the Boomtown Rats, to pen hit song “I Don’t Like Mondays.” (Fin Costello/ Redferns/Getty Images)

Born in San Diego, California, Spencer purportedly took an early liking to guns and also to stories that contained violence. For Christmas in 1978, her father Wallace gave her a semi-automatic .22 caliber rifle. Neighbors claimed that Spencer had a history of petty theft, drug abuse, and truancy. Classmates alleged that the week before the shootings Spencer said that she wanted “to do something big to get on TV.”

Brenda Spencer, 16, who police identified as the 16-year-old girl suspect in the sniper shooting at a San Diego elementary school Monday which left two adults dead and one adult and eight children wounded.

On January 29, 1979, Spencer posted herself by a window in her home and began randomly shooting at Grover Cleveland Elementary School across the street. The shooting began as children were waiting outside for principal Burton Wragg to open the gate. The shooting claimed the lives of Wragg and Mike Suchar and injured eight students and a police officer. Wragg was killed while trying to help the children, and Suchar was killed while trying to pull Wragg to safety.

Burton Wragg (left), principal of Grover Cleveland Elementary school, and Mike Suchar (right), a custodian for the school, died in sniper attack by 16-year-old Brenda Spencer. (Bettmann/Corbis)

After firing thirty rounds, Spencer barricaded herself inside of her home for almost seven hours, warning police that she was going to “come out shooting.” Ultimately, she surrendered to police. Although police officers found beer and whiskey bottles cluttered around the house, they stated that Spencer did not appear to be intoxicated.

Brenda Ann Spencer, 16, lays down a .22-caliber rifle as San Diego Police SWAT team officers aim sawed-off shotguns and high-powered rifles at her, ending a 6-hour siege at her suburban San Carlos home, Jan. 29, 1979. (Jim Okerblom/AP)

When asked why she committed the shooting Spencer replied, “I just did it for the fun of it. I don’t like Mondays. This livens up the day. I have to go now. I shot a pig (policeman) I think and I want to shoot more. I’m having too much fun (to surrender).” She also said, “I had no reason for it, and it was just a lot of fun. It was just like shooting ducks in a pond,” and, “[The children] looked like a herd of cows standing around; it was really easy pickings.” At the time of the shootings, Spencer was 16 years old.

Due to the seriousness of her crime, Spencer was tried as an adult. She mentioned the attacks months before: “one of these mornings, you’re gonna look for me,” “no one understands me,” “you don’t have to wait very long to see what is going on with me.” Neither her parents nor her friends paid heed to these statements. She pleaded guilty to two counts of murder and assault with a deadly weapon. She was sentenced to prison for 25 years to life. She is currently at the California Institution for Women in Chino, California.

Brenda Spencer chained at her hands and ankles leaves the courthouse, escorted by sheriff’s deputies.

After becoming eligible for parole, Spencer was denied four times, including on August 13, 2009, and will not be eligible again until 2019.

In 1993, Spencer claimed that she had been under the influence of PCP and alcohol when she opened fire, adding that the state and her attorney conspired to hide her drug test results. Both former prosecutor Charles Patrick and Spencer's attorney Michael McGlinn vehemently denied that any evidence had been hidden in her case.

At a parole hearing in 2001, Spencer claimed that her violence was a result of an abusive home life in which her father beat and sexually abused her. The parole board’s chairman, Brett Granlund, expressed doubt about Spencer’s allegations, saying that Spencer had never discussed the allegations with counselors.



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