Before Las Vegas, NJ was home to first mass shooting in US history
These tragedies pile up. These tragedies blend in.
...thought it was fireworks...
You couldn't tell where it was coming from. It was loud and non-stop.
...a person of interest...
...do not believe she is involved with the shooting...
...condolences and sympathies to the victims and families...
...in excess of 10 rifles...
The latest mass shooting in the United States is also the deadliest. The 32nd floor ambush from the Mandalay Bay on the Las Vegas strip now surpasses the Pulse massacre in Orlando both in number of dead and injured. Americans will talk about this. We will use the same psychological techniques we always have to distance ourselves from it to make us sleep better at night. Well, I never go to Vegas, so it couldn't have been me. I don't go to gay clubs in Florida, so this has nothing to do with me. I don't have kids, so Sandy Hook can't touch me. You'd better pray against the day there's no rationale left to make you feel safe.
Pundits will take to television and argue. Gun control nuts will fight with gun rights nuts. Anderson Cooper will refuse to say the shooter's name. Mental health activists will talk in terms of the real problem in this country. On and on it goes.
Here in New Jersey where you have as good a chance of receiving a carry permit as you do of winning the lottery, people will debate this all week. Did you know that long before gun control was a hot button issue, before mental health was even a discussion, before violent video games or incendiary rap lyrics could be scapegoats, New Jersey was home to what smithsonianmag.com called the first mass murder in U.S. history? It certainly sounds like the first mass shooting at least.
In 1949 on Sept. 6, Howard Unruh killed 13 people during a 12-minute walk through his neighborhood in Camden, according to the article. He injured another three. It became known as the "Walk of Death" in popular culture at the time. The incident has been all but forgotten, but historians say this really was the first of its kind and it happened right here. Long before Vega, Pulse, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Columbine, long before all of them, was Howard Unruh's walk of death.
He was a war veteran. He became paranoid that neighbors were up to no good and were out to get him. He began writing down names. The first hit list in U.S. history? Next to some names was the abbreviated word "retal," standing for retaliate. Well after midnight on Sept. 6 he came home from a movie to find a new gate he had just installed was stolen from his home. This was believed to be the trigger for the first real mass shooting in the United States. He slept a few hours, rose at 8 a.m., and dressed in his finest suit.
At 9:20 a.m. he walked out of his house with a German Luger pistol. In the next 12 minutes he shot 16 people and killed 13 of them. Despite the hit list the victims seemed to be selected at random. Three of the dead were children, ages 9, 6 and 2. When he heard the responding sirens he went back home where a brief standoff ensued. He gave himself up and spent the rest of his life locked away.
He was declared insane so he spent that life housed in the New Jersey Hospital for the Insane, today known as Trenton Psychiatric Hospital. He didn't die until 2009 at the age of 88. His last public words, said to a psychologist, were, "I'd have killed a thousand if I had enough bullets."
Chilling words considering where weapons and mass shootings have gone.
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