I Don’t Like Mondays


Deranged Girl Shoots Up School 

Brenda Spencer was a severely troubled child.  Her parents had separated, and she was living on the floor of a small home in San Diego with her alcoholic father.  She had expressed a desire to shoot a cop.  She also frequently said that she would do something big to get herself on TV.

In December of 1979 she was arrested for shooting out the windows of Grover Cleveland Elementary School with a bb gun.  The school was directly across the street from her home.  The court system ordered that she undergo a psychological exam.  She was given a diagnosis of depression and recommended immediate treatment.  Her father refused treatment and she was released. 

What better Christmas present for this young girl than a Ruger 10/22 rifle with a scope and 500 rounds of ammunition.  That’s what she received from her seemingly equally disturbed father.  She knew this was her opportunity to get famous.

On January 29, 1979, began shooting at from her house at the same Grover Cleveland Elementary.  This time the target was not the windows. She began shooting students as they got off the bus for morning classes.  As students went down with gunshot wounds, staff ran outside to help. Spencer shot Burton Wragg, the principal of the school in the head, killing him.  She then shot custodian Mike Suchar as he was dragging an injured student to safety, killing him also.  The first police officer on the scene was Robert Robb.  He was immediately shot in the neck.

The next officers on the scene found the front of the school was directly in the line of fire and they could not get a shot to stop the deranged child.  Thinking outside the box, they commandeered a garbage truck and pulled  it in front of her sniper’s hide.  They were able to stop the shooting and rescue the 7 injured students and injured police officer. 

A standoff ensued as police surrounded Spencer’s residence.  Spencer got in touch with a reporter from the San Diego Union Tribune to tell her story as the cops tried to negotiate with her.  When asked why she shot those children, Spencer responded, “I don’t like Mondays”.  She eventually surrendered to the police.

She was charged as an adult.  She was convicted and sentenced to 25 to life. She remains in prison to this day. 

Punk icon Bob Geldorf was particularly struck by this tragic story.  He was in the band Boomtown Rats at the time.  In July of 1979, they released their hit “I Don’t Like Mondays”.  The song was inspired by the shooting.  Brenda Spencer wrote Geldorf, creepily thanking him for making her famous.   

Christopher Flanagan
photo By California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation – http://mylifeofcrime.files.wordpress.com/2007/03/brendaannspencermugshot.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22371358


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