The famous Columbine High School massacre is considered as one of the deadliest massacres in the history of the United States. It happened on April 20, 1999 at around 11 am when two students namely Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold arrived in their respective cars. Prior to this, the two have already set up a fire bomb within a half mile vicinity of the school. Accordingly, it was found out that the bomb is meant to distract authorities and security officers. When the bomb finally exploded and caused a minimal fire, the two students entered the cafeteria with propane bombs packed in duffel bags. They left the bags in the cafeteria and proceeded to wait in their respective cars for the bomb to explode. The plan was to shoot anybody who flees from the school vicinity. However, the bomb failed to explode. They then armed themselves with weapons and started gunning Rachel Scott and Richard Castaldo who were eating their lunches.
After that, they went to attack people in the staircase and the hallway as they head themselves to the cafeteria. Then, they proceeded to the soccer field and once again shoot students. They have also injured Coach Dave Sanders while he was helping students evacuate from the library. As teachers were contacting the police, the two attacked the library by throwing bombs, which this time around, have exploded. There were around 22 casualties in the library among students who gathered around to protect themselves. After attacking the library, the two proceeded to different parts of the school threating students from one room to another. After this, they returned to the library and committed suicide together.
The Kent State Massacre happened on May 4, 1970 in the Kent State University. This happened while the students gathered in the University commons to protest against President Richard Nixon’s decision to invade Cambodia and further expand the Vietnam War. These students believed that the Vietnam War was unnecessary. Moreover, they were also concerned on them being drafted to the war. The protest on May 4 was a part of the series of protests that teachers and students have already done about three days prior to that. The authorities dispatched the group by virtue of an order from the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. However, the students threw rocks at them which forced them to go back to camp. They came back to disperse the crowd but still they refused to do so. This time the authorities started to prepare their weapons and advanced to the students. However, the student still persisted in confronting the soldiers and threw stone and rocks at them. The guardsmen then started to fire their rifles at the protesters directed to the parking lot. According to investigation, there were around 67 bullets fired by several soldiers. There were four student deaths and nine injuries recorded in the incident. Two of those students were among the protesters while the other two were only spectators (Rosinsky 10-19).
The Virginia Tech Massacre is one of the recent and the most controversial of all school shootings in the history of the United States. It happened on April 16, 2007 at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute. It was done solely by Seung-Hui Cho, an English major student in the same school. Prior to the attack, Cho has already been treated for anxiety disorder. The massacre consisted of two attacks. First was in West Ambler Johnston Hall, a dormitory that housed 894 students. At 7:15 in the morning, Cho had his first victim inside the residence hall, Emily Hilscher. After this first attack, he went to the post office to mail a package to the BBC news. After this, he proceeded to his second attack. He went to Norris Hall and began to shoot students in the hallway. He went to the classroom of Professor Loganathan and killed 9 of his 13 students. After 10 to 12 minutes of attack, he has fired 174 times and killed 30 students and teachers with it. After five minutes, when the police finally gained access to the crime scene, they found Cho dead from a head gunshot (Brezina 4-6).
The three attacks were similar in the sense that they happened within school premises and educational institutions. The only difference is that the Kent State Massacre’s perpetrators were not students but authorities that were supposed to protect these students from harm. The number of deaths would also vary but the overall consequence is the same in all of the three. The reasons behind the attacks also differ. Both the Columbine and Virginia Tech massacres were brought about by troubled students who would want to assert their place and rights as students. On one hand, the Kent Massacre was brought about by police officers who would want to maintain the peace in the area. However, same as the first two, the Kent Massacre could also be viewed as a an outcome of student’s assertion of their thoughts and stand on social issues such as the Vietnam War. Although the perpetrators and the victims’ thoughts about the massacres were never really ascertained, these school attacks and massacres can be considered as an assertion of the youth’s dismay, and at the same time, their concern about the society and life in general.
Brezina, Corona. Deadly School and Campus Violence. USA: Rosen, 2008.
Brown, Brooks and Merritt, Rob. No Easy Answers: The Truth Behind death at Columbine. USA: Lantern, 2002.
Rosinsky, Natalie. The Kent State Shootings. USA: Compass, 2008.