january- handgun history


Each month, this section features prominent incidents of violence in the history of America involving handguns and shooters, ranging from school-aged children to disgruntled employees to lone-wolf assassins, acting out of a wide range of motives. Each month's incidents will include details such as: the identity of the shooter; the number of people killed and wounded; the make, model, and caliber of the handgun(s) used in the shooting; the circumstances of the shooting; and, how the handgun was acquired.

  • On January 5, 1970, United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) official Joseph A. Yablonski, his wife, Margaret, and their 25-year-old daughter, Charlotte, were found slain in their Clarksville, Pennsylvania, home. Hit men, Aubran "Buddy" Martin, Paul Gilly, and Claude Vealey were all convicted shortly after the murders, but it took nearly five years to connect the murders to their source, incumbent UMWA President Tony Boyle. In April 1974, first-degree murder charges were handed down to Tony Boyle for the "murder-for-hire" scheme. Boyle received a life sentence and died in prison. 

  • On January 13, 1999, Di-Kieu Duy stormed into the Triad Center office building in Salt Lake City, Utah, and allegedly killed one employee and injured another with a 9mm pistol. Duy, who had a history of schizophrenia and erratic behavior as well as a criminal record, obtained the pistol legally at a Taylorsville gun shop just hours before the shooting. 
  • On January 14, 1983, a 3-year-old toddler shot and killed day care director Ruby Turner Woosley in a Memphis, Tennessee, childcare facility. According to police, the toddler found the handgun while rummaging through a toy closet. Employee Mary Coffey had left the .22 pistol in her handbag which she had placed in the closet. The gun discharged while the boy played with it, hitting Woosley in the chest. Police ruled the shooting accidental and no charges were filed. 

  • On January 17, 1989, Patrick Edward Purdy fired 106 rounds into a schoolyard filled with Asian-American children at Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton, California. Purdy, who had expressed a dislike for Asian immigrants and Asian-Americans, killed five children and wounded 30 before turning a gun on himself. The Chinese-made AK-47 assault rifle, Taurus 9mm pistol, and another unidentified pistol that Purdy had used had all been purchased legally in 1988—despite his criminal record. 
  • On January 22, 1959, Carl Switzer, the actor who played Alfalfa on Our Gang was shot and killed by a friend over a $50 debt. Charges against Moses S. Stiltz were dropped after it was ruled that he had fired in self-defense. 

  • On January 22, 1987, Pennsylvania State Treasurer Bud Dwyer fatally shot himself at a televised press conference. He was to be sentenced the next day for his conviction in a bribery case. 

  • On January 23, 1978, Terry Kath, lead singer and guitarist for the rock group Chicago, accidentally shot and killed himself, according to police reports. 

  • On January 26, 1969, Seattle Urban League Director Edwin T. Pratt was shot and killed. 

  • On January 30, 1835, an assassination attempt was made on President Andrew Jackson during a funeral in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, DC. Assailant Richard Lawrence's two pistols misfired.

  • On January 30, 1948, Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated in Dehli. 

  • On January 30, 1973, Senator John Stennis (D-MS), 71, was shot twice during a robbery.