Las Vegas was the worst, but it wasn’t the first

(ZUMA Press/MGN/file)
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LAS VEGAS, Nevada (KWTX) The Las Vegas massacre ranks as the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman in modern U.S. history, but it’s far from the first, and in the full sweep of U.S. history, it’s not actually the worst.

When Stephen Paddock, 64, started shooting no one knew 59 people would lose their lives and the panic and chaos viewers have seen on television would own the night that night in Las Vegas.

Other senseless mass killings proved much worse and incredibly more graphic, but from the beginning there is a vicious cycle that returns again and again in a different city in a different state and the outcome is always tragedy.

Las Vegas ranks as the worst in recent history.

Second worst is the June 12, 2016 terror-motivated hate crime during which Omar Mateen, 29, left 49 dead and 58 wounded at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando, Fla.

Third is the April 16, 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech University, in Blacksburg where Seung-Hui Cho, who later was determined to be criminally mentally ill, killed 33, including himself, and wounded 17 on the university campus.

Number four: Twenty children ages 6 to 7 and eight adults were killed and two other children wounded when Adam Lanza, 20, shot his way into the Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newton, Conn.

Lanza, who earlier killed his mother, killed himself after the shootings.

The fifth in descending order happened in Killeen on Oct. 16, 1991 when George Henard, 35, drove his vehicle into the front entrance at the Luby’s Cafeteria, jumped out and started shooting randomly around the packed restaurant.

The death toll was 23 and 20 more were injured.

Henard told investigators he hated women and minorities.

Former state Rep. Suzanna Gratia Hupp, then of Lampasas, was inside the restaurant when the shooting started.

Both her parents were shot.

She later would champion legislation that became the Texas Concealed Handgun Carry Law.

The sixth worst happened July 19, 1984 in San Ysidro, Calif., where James Huberty, 41, who had mental health issues, killed 22 and wounded 19.

The tower shooting at the University of Texas rank seventh.

On Aug. 1, 1966, former Marine marksman Charles Whitman, 25, climbed the limestone clock tower in the middle of the UT campus, loaded his long guns, secured his position and started shooting.

Before Austin police rushed the tower and crashed onto the observation deck to shoot him, Whitman killed 18 and shot 31 others as they strolled across campus that hot August morning.

Pathologists found a tumor in Whitman’s brain during his autopsy and investigators believe he had deep rooted mental issues.

Number eight came on Aug. 20, 1986 when U.S. Postal Service worker Patrick Sherill, 44, took revenge on his workplace after a disagreement with his supervisor.

It was that incident that coined the phrase “going postal.”

On Dec. 2, 2015, Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and his wife Tashfeen Malik, 26, left an office holiday party, went home to change clothes and arm up, then returned to shoot the crowd.

Sixteen died, including both shooters, and 24 were injured in what investigators said was a hate crime perpetrated by two radicalized jihadists.

And back to Central Texas for number 10: on Nov. 5, 2009, Army psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hasan drove to the Soldier Readiness Center, on Fort Hood where soldiers were processing for deployment to the Middle East, pulled his semi-automatic pistol and began firing.

In the end 13 died and 23 were injured and Hasan was shot by police.

He later faced court-martial and was found guilty, then sentenced to life in prison at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

Investigators believe Hasan committed the shootings as a terrorist act inspired by radical Islam.

U.S. has rich history of mass murder

When one considers multiple-murder events that were committed by more than one person, and those that happened before 1900, the list expands, however.

The National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists both point to an under-studied mass-scale killing reported in 1917 in East St. Louis, Ill., and another in 1873 in Colfax, La., both of which resulted in more than 100 deaths by gangs.

Massacres perpetrated against Native American populations are typically ignored as they are commonly viewed as military in nature and they happened prior to what most consider modern U.S. history.

But, in fact, the country has a rich history of mass murder.

Mountain Meadows Massacre

Sept. 7-11, 1857: The Mormon Utah Territorial Militia, supported by several Paiute Indians fell onto an emigrant wagon train headed west and killed between 100 and 140 men, women and children.

Nueces Massacre

Aug. 10, 1862: A large group of Confederate soldiers attacked and murdered 34 German immigrant Texans in Kinney County.

Thibodaux Massacre

Nov. 22, 1887: At least 35, but some reports say more than 300 striking black sugar cane workers were brutally slain.

Colorado Coalfield War (Ludlow Massacre)

Sometimes those responsible for these mass killings are a real surprise, as when, on April 20, 1914, soldiers from the Colorado National Guard and Colorado Fuel and Iron Company camp guards rolled into a tent camp at Ludlow, Colo. and shot and killed about two dozen men, women and children in what would become known as the Ludlow Massacre.

Company owner John D. Rockefeller, Jr., was widely criticized for the attack but never was prosecuted, nor was anyone else.

The incident became known as the central event in the Colorado Coalfield War, during which as many as 199 individuals met their grisly deaths.

At the time, Thomas G. Andrews described it as the "deadliest strike in the history of the United States.”

A newspaper account at the time reads: “Ludlow, a canvas community of 900 souls, was riddled with machine guns shooting 400 bullets a minute. Then the tents were burned. The site is private property leased by the miners' union, which has supported the colony seven months."

Greenwood Race Riots

Between May 31 and June 1, 1921, a white mob raged in the streets of the African-American community of Greenwood, in Tulsa, Okla., in what is considered one of the worst incidents of racial violence in the history of the United States.

Attacks came from both the ground and the air and in the end, destroyed more than 35 blocks of the district, which at the time the wealthiest black community in the nation.

More than 800 people were admitted to hospitals and more than 6,000 black residents were arrested and detained, many for several days.

The Oklahoma Bureau of Vital Statistics officially recorded 39 dead, but the American Red Cross estimated 300, a number supported by historians since then.

The riot began over a Memorial Day weekend after a young black man was accused of raping a young white female elevator operator at a commercial building.

Thousands of whites rampaged through the black community that night and the next day, killing men and women, burning and looting stores and homes.

Some black people claimed that policemen had joined the mob; others said that National Guardsmen fired a machine gun into the black community and a plane dropped sticks of dynamite.

In an eyewitness account discovered in 2015, Greenwood attorney Buck Colbert Franklin described watching a dozen or more planes, which had been dispatched by the city police force, drop burning balls of turpentine on Greenwood's rooftops.

Herrin Illinois Coal Strike

A little more than a year later, in Herrin, Illinois 23 died in June 1922 during a strike by the United Coal Workers of America.

The Illinois Historical Society webpage on the event says “Although the owner of the mine originally agreed with the union to observe the strike, when the price of coal went up, he hired non-union workers, or "scabs", to produce and ship out coal, as he had high debt in start-up costs.

“Enraged that the owner had disregarded their agreement, on June 21, union miners shot at the strikebreakers going to work, where the mine had armed guards,” the account says.

“When striking union members armed themselves and laid siege to the mine, the owner's guards shot and killed three union miners in an exchange of gunfire.

“The next day, union miners killed 19 of 50 strikebreakers and mine guards, many of them brutally and a twentieth victim from the non-union group was later murdered, bringing the death total to 23,” the website says.

And if military campaigns are added to the mix, the death toll skyrockets.

Paoli Massacre

Sept. 20, 1777: A battle in the Philadelphia campaign of the American Revolutionary War fought in the area surrounding present-day Malvern, Pa. left scores dead.

On the evening of Sept. 20, British forces under Maj. Gen. Charles Grey led a surprise attack on Gen. Anthony Wayne's encampment near the Paoli Tavern.

The British took no prisoners and granted no quarter, and the engagement became known as the "Paoli Massacre."

Two-hundred revolutionaries died.

The Waxhaw massacre (also known as Buford's Massacre)

May 29, 1780: The massacre occurred during the American Revolutionary War near Lancaster, S.C., between a Continental Army force led by Abraham Buford and a mainly Loyalist force led by British officer Banastre Tarleton.

After Tarleton’s horse was shot from under him, his troops became enraged and fell on the Continentals and of the 400, killed 113 of them while they were attempting to surrender.

Bloody Island Massacre

May 15, 1850: Sixty to 100 Native Americans were murdered by a U.S. Army Calvary regiment in retaliation for the murders of two frontiersmen.

Spirit Lake Massacre

March 5-12, 1856: A band of Dakota Indians conducted a series of raids on settlers in Iowa and 35 to 40 died.

Lawrence Massacre

August 21, 1863: Confederate guerrillas killed 185 to 200 civilians they found in the unionist town of Lawrence, Kan., and burned more than a quarter of the town.

Fort Pillow Massacre

April 12, 1864: a Total of 297 Union troops, most of them black, were massacred by a group of Confederates while they were trying to surrender.

Military historian David J. Eicher concluded, "Fort Pillow marked one of the bleakest, saddest events of American military history."

(Editor’s note: Information for this article was gathered from several government and historical websites including FBI reports, the Department of Defense, The Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, Texas State Historical Association Online and the University of Texas at Austin)