The first ‘lone wolf’ shooting happened in NJ on this day in 1949
One of the first mass murders in US history took place in Camden on September 6th, 1949. 28-year-old Howard Unruh, described as a soft spoken, Bible reading Army veteran, took a “walk of death” through his neighborhood shooting a Luger pistol somewhat indiscriminately, killing 13 people including three children. The FBI defines a mass murder as having four or more victims. While Unruh was not the first to do this, he was the first to be classified as a 'lone wolf' killer.
Some of his first targets were believe to have been chosen based on neighborhood rifts, but most of the victims were strangers to Unruh. According to the New York Times, Unruh told police that some of the neighborhood shopkeepers “have been making derogatory remarks about my character.”
He went into several shops to shoot people but also shot into passing automobiles. After his twelve minute killing spree, Unruh holed himself up in the apartment he shared with his mother until police, using tear gas, flushed him out peacefully. Unruh was charges with 13 counts of willful and malicious slayings with malice aforethought and three counts of atrocious assault and battery. He was evaluated and determined to be insane, suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, and sent to the New Jersey Hospital for the Insane (now the Trenton Psychiatric Hospital) where he lived until his death in 2009.
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