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"I Don't Like Mondays"

The story of Brenda Ann Spencer, the first female school shooter.

By Gladys W. MuturiPublished 7 months ago Updated 5 months ago 3 min read
Brenda Ann Spencer

Before more male school shooters took over, there wasn't much female shooters or female school shooters. But there was actually was one female school shooter named Brenda Ann Spencer who started shooting at Grover Cleveland Elementary School killing two people and wounded nine in the late 70s. She would later say her reason because she quote:

“I don’t like Mondays”

Her quote garnered national media attention and made history for being the first female school shooter.

Brenda Ann Spencer was born in San Diego, California, on April 3, 1962 to her parents Dot and Wallace Spencer. When she was young, her parents separated. She lived most of her life living with her father. Her father Wallace has been a gun enthusiast, which fascinated Brenda and gained interest in collecting and playing with guns. On December 1978, her father bought Brenda a a Ruger 10/22 semi-automatic .22 caliber rifle as her Christmas present. Neighbors claims that Spencer had a history of petty theft, drug abuse, and truancy. Classmates alleged that the week before the shootings Spencer said that she wanted, "to do something big to get on TV." But that would all change until January 29,1979.

January 29, 1979

It was the morning of January 29, 1979, students at Grove Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego, California were lined up waiting for the principal to open the school doors to get them in their classroom. Across the street, Spencer was home alone watching them from her house, which was filled with empty whiskey bottles and a single mattress that she shared with her father. She had skipped class that day and later claimed that she had washed her epilepsy medicine down with alcohol. As the kids lined up, Spencer took out her .22 semiautomatic rifle (her Christmas present) and aims at the school. She shot fired at nine year old boy then continued shooting at seven more children.

Principal Burton Wragg was talking with teacher until he heard gunshots rang out. He went outside see school children falling to the floor, pleading and bleeding with their lives. When he went outside to help the children, Wragg was shot. After he was shot, another adult, the school custodian Michael Suchar was trying to help until he was shot. Soon after the police arrived on the scene, they realized that the shots had come from Spencer’s home. Though the cops sent negotiators to speak with her, she refused to cooperate with them. According to the San Diego Police Museum, she warned authorities that she was still armed and threatened to “come out shooting” if she was forced to leave her house. In all, the standoff lasted over six hours. During this time, Spencer gave her infamous interview with The San Diego Union-Tribune over the phone. Eventually, Spencer surrendered peacefully and was arrested at the scene. One negotiator remembers promising her a Burger King Whopper before she finally came outside.

Brenda’s mugshot

Spencer steps out of her house, surrenders to authorities and was arrested. Children and a police officer were critically wounded and two adults: Principal Burton Wragg and school custodian Michael Suchar were killed.

Principal Burton Wragg (L) and School Custodian Michael Suchar (R)

Spencer was charged with two counts of murder; one count of assault with a deadly weapon. The whole world was stunned that the school shooter was identified as a young woman. When asked why she did why she did it, she said:

“I just don’t like Mondays… I did this because it’s a way to cheer up the day.”

Spencer was found guilty for all charges and was sent to 25 years in prison. At a parole hearing in 2001, Spencer claimed that her violence was a result of an abusive home life in which her father beat and sexually abused her. The parole board's chairman, Brett Granlund, expressed doubt about Spencer's allegations, saying that Spencer had never discussed the allegations with counselors. Bob Geldof, the lead singer of the Irish rock group The Boomtown Rats, wrote a song titled “I Don’t Like Mondays.” Released just months after the attack, the tune topped the U.K. charts for four weeks, and it also received extensive airtime in the U.S. Spencer heard the song and was actually pleased with the song. Her story has been told in true crime documentaries and books. Cleveland Elementary eventually closed but for the students there that day the tragedy impacted their future decisions and changed their lives forever. Spencer is still serving her time at the California Institution for Women in Chino, California.

Brenda Spencer now




About the Creator

Gladys W. Muturi

Hello, My name is Gladys W. Muturi. I am an Actress, Writer, Filmmaker, Producer, and Mother of 1.

Instagram: @gladys_muturi95

Twitter: @gladys_muturi


YouTube channels in the works

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Comments (12)

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  • WOA3 months ago

    This was such an interesting article. I do believe she was abused. Thats no excuse but I think it was a factor. I was surprised though how she could still be in jail if she got 25 years. She got life in prison with possibility of parole at 25 years. This case is always a little fascinating. While women are not above violence, they make up a very very small cases of mass shooters but her case is held up in conversations that "women are mass shooters too". Sure, but they're comparatively rare, so if we're going to stop mass shootings we should focus on where the issues are. This was a good article.

  • keenan eliezer6 months ago

    Great writing

  • Angelina F. Thomas6 months ago

    Great work. Keep it up!!

  • I had heard of this, actually saw a documentary a few years back, great article…

  • Fascinating, harrowing piece... thrilled!

  • Bernadette Johnson7 months ago

    Wow, I had never heard about this. Thanks for sharing!

  • Irma Mejia7 months ago

    interesting story! currently listening to I don't like Mondays.

  • Novel Allen7 months ago

    I dislike when the media gives these people what they want. Fame. Many people have tough lives. We all don't go killing people. Guns and more guns, It never changes. Keep writing.

  • Annelise Lords7 months ago

    I didn't know that there was a female school sooter. That was a lame excuse for doing what she did.

  • Kat Thorne7 months ago

    In all fairness, I don't think anyone likes Mondays.

  • Kendall Defoe7 months ago

    I remember the song quite well and knew a little of the story, but you filled in a lot of information that I never got. And she liked the song... Disturbing.

  • Chezney Martin7 months ago

    This story surfacing again brought up a lot of old psychology class reflections, thank you for posting!

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