America’s First Mass Murder

Police arrest Howard Unruh

Police arrest Howard UnruhOn Tuesday, September 6, 1949, in Camden, New Jersey, Howard Unruh went on a 20-minute shooting spree, killing 13 people and injuring 3 others before he was taken down by the police. The FBI defines a mass killing as “three or more killings in a single incident.”Smithsonian notes: “A somewhat forgotten man outside of criminology circles and local old-timers, Unruh was an early chapter in the tragically-all-too-familiar American story of an angry man with a gun, inflicting carnage.”

“Starting on September 7, a team of psychiatrists examined Unruh for weeks, trying to get an understanding of why he did what he did. Many of their findings weren’t released until 2012, at the request of the Philadelphia Inquirer. He cold-bloodedly explained everything, listing the neighbors who had wronged him, and describing each murder with little emotion. He claimed to feel sorrow for the children he’d killed, but the doctor’s notes indicate he didn’t seem remorseful. Unruh went so far as to say that ‘murder is sin, and I should get the chair.'”

The Story of the First Mass Murder in U.S. History.


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