Brenda Spencer was from San Diego, California. At some point in her childhood her parents were divorced. Brenda lived an impoverished life with her father Wallace. They slept on a single mattress on the floor and empty alcohol bottles around the house. She is said to have self-identified herself as being gay from birth.
In 1978 Spencer was sent to a facility for problem students, after being sent due to truancy. The staff had warned her parents that she was suicidal. Spencer was known to hunt bird in the neighborhood, the summer of 1978 she was arrested for shooting out windows of Cleveland Elementary School with a BB gun and burglary. In early December she was given a psychiatric evaluation arranged by her probation officer, the evaluation recommended that she be admitted to a mental hospital due to her depressed state. Her father refused to allow that. Instead he bought his troubled daughter a Ruger 10/22 semiautomatic .22 caliber rifle with a telescopic sight and 500 rounds of ammunition for Christmas.
Spencer lived across the street from Cleveland Elementary School, the same school she had already shot with BB guns. This time Spencer had a rifle though. On the morning of Monday, January 29, 1979 Spencer began shooting, from her home, at children who were waiting outside for their principal to open the gates. The good thing was that she didn’t manage to kill any of the children; she did injure 8 and killed Principal Burton Wragg who was trying to help the children and Custodian Mike Suchar who tried to pull Wragg to safety. A policeman who responded to the incident was also wounded in the neck.
Spencer barricaded herself in her home for several hours after firing 30 rounds of ammunition. While inside her home she had a conversation with a journalist over the phone. The reporter asked why she had done it, and Spencer replied with shrugged shoulders “I don’t like Mondays. This livens up the day.” She also said that she had no reason for doing it and that it was just a lot of fun. She compared the shooting to shooting ducks in a pond, and that the children looked like herd of cows standing around, easy picking she said.
Spencer, who was 16 at the time, was tried as an adult and pled guilty to two counts of murder and assault with a deadly weapon and was sentenced to 25 years to life. She was diagnosed as an epileptic and received medication to treat epilepsy and depression. In 1993 she was eligible for parole, it was very difficult to obtain parole for a conviction of murder in California before 2011. She has been unsuccessful at 4 Board of Parole Hearings; she tried to convince them that she was on drugs and alcohol during the shootings even though the drug tests they had done when taking her into custody contradicted the story. She also tried to convince them that he her father had been subjecting her to beating and sexual abuse, this was not taken seriously since this was the first time of her mentioning it, they believed she was lying. Another time she had branded words on her skin with a hot wire and the district attorney considered this “self-harm” and that she was psychotic and unfit to be released. In 2009 the board again refused and said she would not be eligible again for another 10 years.
The saddest part of this case was that there were warning signs all over. Doctors had said she was depressed and suicidal, the father refused to get her treatment instead buying her a rifle.
During one of her parole board hearings, Spencer said: “I asked for a radio and he bought me a gun.” When asked why he might have done that, she answered, “I felt like he wanted me to kill myself.”
Spencer’s quote “I don’t like Mondays” can be seen on the wall of the movie The Breakfast Club. She was also the inspiration for Boomtown Rats song “I don’t like Mondays” written by musician Bob Geldof. Apparently it was her lack of remorse and inability to provide a real explanation for the events that lead to Geldof being inspired to write a song about it.