- This article deals with mass killings that are not considered genocide.
Mass murder (massacre) is the act of murdering a large number of people, typically at the same time or over a relatively short period of time. Mass murder may be committed by individuals or organizations.
The term may refer to spree killers, who stage a single assault on their victims.
The largest mass killings in history have been attempts to exterminate entire groups or communities of people, often on the basis of ethnicity or religion. Some of these mass murders have been found to be genocides and others to be crimes against humanity, but often such crimes have led to few or no convictions of any type.
Mass murder by individuals
The term "mass murder" refers to the killing of four or more people during a particular event. Examples would include killing several people in the course of a robbery, or setting a crowded nightclub on fire where four or more deaths occur.
The USA Bureau of Justice Statistics defines a mass murder as "[involving] the murder of four or more victims at one location, within one event."
Mass murderers may fall into any of a number of categories, including killers of family, of coworkers, of students, and of random strangers. Their motives for murder vary.
Many other motivations are possible, including the need for attention or fame .
Workers who assault fellow employees are sometimes called "disgruntled workers," but this is often a misnomer, as many perpetrators are ex-workers. They are dismissed from their jobs and subsequently turn up heavily armed and kill their former colleagues. In the 1980s, when two fired postal workers carried out such massacres in separate incidents in the US, the term "going postal" became synonymous with employees snapping and setting out on murderous rampages. One of the 1980s most famous "disgruntled worker" cases involved computer programmer Richard Farley who, after being fired for stalking one of his co-workers, a woman by the name of Laura Black, returned to his former workplace and shot to death seven of his colleagues, although he failed in his attempt to kill Black herself.
In some rare cases mass murders have been committed during prison riots and uprisings. During the February, 1980 New Mexico State Penitentiary riot, 33 inmates were killed. Most of the dead, 23, lived in the Protective Custody Unit, and were killed by other inmates using knives, axes and being burnt alive over a 48-hour period.
Unlike serial killers, there is rarely a sexual motive to individual mass-murderers, with the possible exception of Sylvestre Matuschka, an Austrian man who apparently derived sexual pleasure from blowing up trains with dynamite, ideally with people in them. His lethal sexual fetish claimed 22 lives before he was caught in 1932.
According to Loren Coleman's book Copycat Effect, publicity about multiple deaths tends to provoke more, whether workplace or school shootings or mass suicides.
Mass murder by terrorists
In recent years, terrorists have performed acts of mass murder to intimidate a society and draw attention to their causes. Examples of major terrorist incidents involving mass murder of more than 100 individual include:
- June 23, 1985 Air India Flight 182 bombing over the Atlantic Ocean - 329 killed
- December 21, 1988 Pan Am Flight 103 bombing over Scotland - 270 killed
- March 12,1993 Bombay bombings - 257 killed
- April 19, 1995 Oklahoma City bombing in the United States - 168 killed
- August 7, 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania - 224 killed
- September 11, 2001 September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States - 2,997 killed
- October 12, 2002 Bali bombing in Indonesia - 202 killed
- March 2, 2004 Ashura massacre in Iraq - 170 killed
- 11 March 2004 Madrid train bombings in Spain - 191 killed
- September 4, 2004 Beslan school hostage crisis in Russia - 344 killed
- February 28, 2005 Al Hillah bombing in Iraq - 127 killed
- 11 July 2006 Mumbai train bombings in India - 207 killed
- March 27, 2007 Tal Afar bombings and massacre in Iraq - 152 killed
Mass murder by a (S)/state
The concept of state-sponsored mass murder covers a range of potential killings. Some people consider any deaths in combat to be mass murder by the state, though this is not a generally held position. Clear examples of state-sponsored mass murder include:
- Genocide is the deliberate and systematic destruction of an ethnic, religious or national group. While precise definition varies among genocide scholars, the legal definition is found in the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG). Since the CPPCG went into effect in 1951 there have been two genocides found to be so in international courts these were the Srebrenica genocide and the Rwandan Genocide (see International prosecution of genocide. There have been a number of other convictions for genocide under municipal laws, and a number of genocides in history – such as the Holocaust – are widely seen as genocides, but occurred before the universal acceptance of international laws defining and forbidding genocide was achieved in 1948, so those criminals who were convicted of taking part in these historical genocides were found guilty of crimes against humanity and other more specific crimes like murder.
- Political mass murder or the killing of a particular political group within a country, such as Béla Kun's ethnic cleansing against Turkish and Crimean Tatars and other minorities in 1921-22, Lenin's "Red Terror," Stalin's Great Purge, Mao's "suppression of counterrevolutionaries," Pol Pot's Killing Fields, massacres at the partition of India, or the Hama, Jallianwala Bagh, and Tlatelolco massacres,
- Deliberate massacres of captives during wartime by a state's military forces, such as these committed by the Empire of Japan, the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany during the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II: the Nanjing Massacre, the Katyn Forest Massacre of Polish citizens in 1940 and the massacres of political prisoners after the launch of Operation Barbarossa, the Three Alls Policy and the massacre of Soviet Jews at Babi Yar.
- Mass killing of civilians during total war, especially via strategic bombing, such as the Bombing of Chongqing, the Blitz, the bombing of Dresden and Hamburg, or the Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
- Actions in which the state caused the death of large numbers of people, which political scientist R. J. Rummel calls "democide," which, in addition to the cases above, may include man-made disasters caused by the state, such as the Holodomor in the Soviet Union, and the disastrous effects of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution in the People's Republic of China.
For further historical examples of mass murder, both state-committed and in wartime, see here.
- John D. Lee (Mountain Meadows massacre, southern Utah, 1857)
- John Filip Nordlund (On the ferry Prins Carl, Sweden, killed 5, 1900)
- John J. Murphy (Somerville, Massachusetts, stabbed 5 co-workers to death, injured 4 in a slaughter house, June 5, 1909)
- Simone Pianetti (Camerata Cornello, Italy, 1915)
- Andrew Kehoe (Bath, Michigan, blew up school, killing 45 (mostly children), 1927)
- Mutsuo Toi (killed 30, Tsuyama massacre, Okayama, Japan, 1938)
- Howard Unruh (Camden, New Jersey, 1949)
- Albert Guay (Canadian Pacific aircraft bombing, killing 23, Canada, 1949)
- Tore Hedin (Hurva, Sweden, killed 9, 1952)
- Jack Gilbert Graham (bombed an aircraft taking off from Denver, Colorado, 1955)
- Charles Starkweather (killed 11 during a road trip with his underage girlfriend Caril Ann Fugate, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1957-1958)
- Edgar Ray Killen (Mississippi civil rights worker murders, June 21 1964)
- Charles Whitman (University of Texas Shootings, Austin, Texas, August 1 1966)
- Harry Roberts (police killer, London, 1966)
- Richard Speck (murdered eight student nurses, Chicago, 1966)
- Victor Ernest Hoffman (Shell Lake murders, Saskatchewan, Canada, August 15, 1967)
- John Linley Frazier (killed 5, including four members of a family, in Santa Cruz, CA, 1970)
- John List (Westfield, New Jersey, 1971)
- Mark Essex (Killed 10 people in a New Orleans hotel shooting, 1973)
- Edward Charles Allaway (killer of 7 people at the library of California State University-Fullerton on July 12 1976)
- Jim Jones (Jonestown, Guyana) (909 people drank or were injected with Flavor-aid laced with cyanide, 1978)
- Akiyoshi Umekawa (Osaka, Japan, killed 4, 26 January 1979)
- Priscilla Ford (Reno, Nevada, United States, murdered 7 pedestrians with her car, 27 November 1980) Las Vegas Review Journal - Priscilla Ford Dies
- Robert Haggart,(Farwell, Michigan, killed 7 family members, February 16, 1982
- Woo Bum-Kon (Gyeongsang-namdo, South Korea, killing 57, 1982)
- Denis Lortie (National Assembly of Quebec, May 8, 1984)
- James Oliver Huberty (McDonald's massacre, San Ysidro, California, 18 July 1984)
- George Banks (Wilkes-Barre, PA,Sept 25th 1985, 13 people including 6 children)
- Jeremy Bamber (farmhouse family murders, Tolleshunt D'Arcy, Essex, England, 1985)
- Andrew Walker (killed 3 army colleagues, Scotland, 1985)
- Iñaki de Juana Chaos (Spain, 1985-1986)
- Patrick Sherrill (killed 14, then himself, Post Office, Edmond, Oklahoma 20 August,1986)
- David Burke (PSA Flight 1771, San Luis Obispo, California, 1987)
- Julian Knight (Hoddle Street Massacre, killed 7, 1987)
- Michael Ryan (Hungerford massacre, Berkshire, UK, 1987)
- Ronald Gene Simmons (16 people Russellville, Arkansas), 1987)
- David Brom (Killed four family members with an axe, 1988)
- Patrick Edward Purdy (Cleveland Elementary School Shootings, Stockton, California, 17 January 1989)
- Marc Lépine (École Polytechnique Massacre, Montreal, Quebec, 1989)
- Joseph Wesbecker (Standard Gravure shooting, Louisville, Kentucky, Sept 14, 1989)
- Julio González (87 people were killed, arsonist at Happy Land Social Club in the Bronx, NY, March, 1990)
- James Edward Pough (GMAC massacre, Jacksonville, Florida, June, 1990)
- David Gray (Aramoana massacre (Otago, New Zealand, 13 & 14 November 1990)
- George Jo Hennard (Luby's massacre, Killeen, Texas, 1991)
- Juan Luna (Brown's Chicken massacre, Palatine, Illinois, January 8, 1993)
- Kenneth French, Jr. (North Carolina, USA, 1993)
- Gian Ferri (101 California Street Shootings, San Francisco, CA, July 1, 1993)
- Colin Ferguson (Long Island Railroad Massacre, Long Island, New York, USA, 1994)
- Mattias Flink (Falun, Sweden, killed 7, 1994)
- Baruch Goldstein (Hebron, West Bank 1994)
- Germain Nabeneza (Grande Montée, Réunion Island, France, killed 8, 1994)
- Timothy McVeigh (Oklahoma, USA 1995)
- Thomas Hamilton (Dunblane massacre, Dunblane, Scotland, 1996)
- Martin Bryant, killed 35, (Port Arthur massacre, Australia, 1996)
- Michael Carneal (Heath High School shooting, West Paducah, Kentucky, USA, 1997)
- Mohammad Ahman al-Naziri, (Sanaa massacre, Sanaa, Yemen, killed 8, 30 March 1997)
- Mitchell Johnson and Andrew Golden, (Jonesboro massacre, Jonesboro, Arkansas, killed 5, March 24, 1998)
- Kip Kinkel, (Thurston High School shooting, Springfield, Oregon, killed 4, May 20-May 21, 1998)
- Matthew Beck, (Connecticut Lottery Headquarters, Newington, Connecticut, killed 5, March 6, 1998)
- Larry Gene Ashbrook, (Wedgewood Baptist Church shooting, Fort Worth, Texas, killed 7, September 16, 1999)
- Buford O. Furrow, Jr., (Los Angeles Jewish Community Center shooting, Los Angeles, California, killed 1, August 9–August 10, 1999)
- Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold (Columbine High School Massacre, Littleton, Colorado), killed 13, April 20, 1999)
- Byran Uyesugi, (Xerox murders, Honolulu, Hawaii, killed 7, November 2, 1999)
- Richard Baumhammers, (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, killed 5, April 28, 2000)
- Reginald and Jonathan Carr, (Wichita Massacre, Wichita, Kansas, killed 4, December 15, 2000)
- Michael McDermott, (Wakefield massacre, Edgewater Technologies, Wakefield, Massachusetts, killed 7, December 26, 2000)
- John B. Taylor and Craig Godineaux, (Wendy's massacre, New York City, May 24, 2000)
- Dipendra of Nepal, (Narayanhity Royal Palace, Kathmandu, Nepal, Nepalese royal massacre, killed 9, June 1, 2001)
- Mamoru Takuma, (Osaka school massacre, Osaka, Osaka, Japan, killed 8, June 8, 2001)
- Robert Steinhäuser, (Erfurt massacre, Erfurt, Germany, killed 16, April 26, 2002)
- Richard Durn, (Nanterre massacre, Nanterre, France, killed 8, March 26, 2002)
- Jeff Weise, (Red Lake High School massacre, Red Lake, Minnesota, killed 9, March 21, 2005)
- Terry Ratzmann, (Living Church of God services via Sheraton Hotel shooting, Brookfield, Wisconsin, killed 7, March 12, 2005)
- Kyle Huff, (Capitol Hill massacre, Seattle, Washington, killed 6, March 25, 2006)
- Charles Carl Roberts IV, (Amish School Shooting, Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, killed 5, October 2, 2006)
- Valerie Moore, (Mizpah Hotel fire, Reno, Nevada, United States, killed 12 after setting arson to residential hotel, October 31, 2006) RGJ: Moore Plea Bargain
- Sulejman Talović, (Trolley Square shooting, Salt Lake City, Utah, United States, killed 5, February 12, 2007)
- Cho Seung-Hui, (Virginia Tech Massacre, Blacksburg, Virginia, United States, killed 32, April 16, 2007)
- Nikola Radosavljevic, (Jabukovac massacre, Serbia, killed 9, July 27, 2007)
- Tyler Peterson, (Crandon, Wisconsin shooting, Crandon, Wisconsin, killed 6, October 7, 2007)
- Pekka-Eric Auvinen, (Jokela school shooting, Tuusula, Finland, killed 8, November 7, 2007)
- Robert A. Hawkins, (Westroads Mall massacre, Omaha, Nebraska, killed 8, December 5, 2007)
- Matthew J. Murray, (2007 Colorado YWAM and New Life shootings, Arvada and Colorado Springs, Colorado, killed 4, December 9, 2007)
- Charles Lee Thornton, (Kirkwood City Council shooting, Kirkwood, Missouri, killed 5, February 7, 2008)
- Steven Kazmierczak, (Northern Illinois University shooting, DeKalb, Illinois, killed 5, February 14, 2008)
- Jessie Dotson, (Memphis, Tennessee, killed 6, March 4, 2008)
- Alaa Abu Dhein (Mercaz HaRav shooting, Jerusalem, Israel, killed 8, March 6, 2008)
- Steven Sueppel, (Iowa City, Iowa, killed wife and his 4 children, March 24, 2008)
- Tomohiro Kato, (Akihabara massacre, Tokyo, Japan, killed 7, June 8, 2008)
- Wesley Neal Higdon, (Atlantis Plastics shooting, Henderson, Kentucky, killed 5, June 25, 2008)
- Matti Juhani Saari, (Kauhajoki school shooting, Kauhajoki, Finland, killed 11 including himself, September 23, 2008)
Mass murder cases not yet closed
These are mass murder incidents where the perpetrator(s) have not been determined or arrested, where one or more suspects has been charged but not yet convicted.
- National Airlines Flight 967, November 16, 1959, 42 presumed dead (Insufficient evidence to charge the suspect)
- Wonderland Murders, 1981, Los Angeles 4 murdered
- Hamilton Avenue murders, Indianapolis, Indiana, 7 killed, June 1, 2006 (Two suspects charged, awaiting trial)
- Lane Bryant Clothing Store Shooting, Tinley Park, Illinois, February 2, 2008, 5 killed (The suspect has not been identified and is still on the run)
- Lester Street mass murder, Memphis, Tennessee, March 3, 2008, C (Brother of slain man arrested)
Jolene Day 6 dead not yet caught