March - 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 March 1, 1994, Rashid Baz opened fire on a van carrying Hasidic students across the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, killing one and wounding three. Baz used an illegally converted Cobray 9mm fully automatic machine pistol and a Glock Model 17 9mm pistol. He illegally purchased both the Glock and the assembled, fully automatic Cobray from street dealers in New York City. Originally, the Glock was purchased by Albert Jaenniton from a firearms shop in Homestead, Florida. Jeanniton was a gun trafficker who employed youths to bring his guns into New York City where they were resold to customers in Staten Island, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. The machine pistol was assembled from a kit sold through mail order by Wayne Daniel of Tennessee. The kit was legal until a conversion was added to the receiver that rendered the weapon fully automatic. 

  • On March 5, 2001, Charles "Andy" Williams, a 15-year-old high school student, allegedly opened fire on his classmates at Santana High School in Santee, California, reportedly because he was tired of being picked on. Williams fired 30 rounds from his .22 Arminius eight-shot revolver, allegedly killing two classmates and wounding 11 other students and two adults. He reloaded the weapon three times before being arrested by police. The handgun that Williams removed from his father's locked gun cabinet was legal. Police removed seven additional rifles from the Williams' apartment after the shooting. In the days prior to the shooting, the teenager told friends he wanted to open fire on Santana High School. At least one adult was notified of his threats. The threats were not taken seriously. 

  • On March 6, 1998, Matthew Beck walked into the Connecticut State lottery headquarters in Newington, Connecticut, and shot four top lottery officials, including his boss, and then himself with a 9mm pistol. Beck, who had been in and out of psychiatric hospitals and repeatedly attempted suicide, was on "stress-related" leave from his job. He was feuding with his boss over back pay and other issues. Despite his history of mental problems, Beck had been a legal gun owner for years and had been issued a permit for the 9mm pistol. 

  • On March 20, 2000, Robert Wayne Harris went to the Mi-T-Fine Car Wash in Irving, Texas, in an attempt to regain his old job with the company. A fight broke out when the manager refused to rehire him and Harris shot six people with a 9mm pistol. Octavio Ramos, the only survivor, said Harris forced him to kneel on the ground and then shot him in the head. Harris was convicted of capital murder on September 26, 2000, and sentenced to death by lethal injection. The handgun was illegal. Police did not reveal how the gun was obtained, but because Harris had three felony convictions for burglary, he was prohibited from possessing firearms. 

  • On March 24, 1998, Andrew Golden excused himself from his classroom at Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Arkansas. He pulled a fire alarm and then ran outside to join Mitchell Johnson at a construction site near the school. From there, the boys allegedly opened fire on students and teachers as they filed out of the school, killing four students and one teacher and wounding nine students and one teacher. The boys later surrendered to police. Among the weapons used in the attack were a Smith & Wesson .38 revolver, a Double Deuce Buddie .22 two-shot derringer, a Star .380 pistol, an FIE .380 pistol, a Ruger Security Six .357 revolver, a Davis Industries .38 two-shot derringer, and a Charter Arms .38 revolver. The weapons, which were all legally owned, were taken from Golden's father and grandfather. Golden owned his own firearms, but was unable to break into the steel safe where they were kept. 

  • On March 31, 1981, John W. Hinckley, Jr., shot President Ronald Reagan, his press secretary, James Brady, and two members of the President's security detail outside of the Washington Hilton hotel in Washington, DC. Hinckley was mentally unstable and hoped to gain the attention of actress Jodie Foster. Hinckley legally purchased the gun used in the shooting (and a similar model) from a pawn shop in Dallas, Texas, for $47 each. Hinckley had no criminal record and had never been committted to a mental institution.

  • On March 31, 1995, Yolanda Salvidar shot and killed Selena, a 23-year-old Grammy winning performer, in Corpus Christi, Texas. Salvidar, founder of the Selena Fan Club and personal assistant to the singer, had been fired the day before the shooting. According to police, Selena went to confront Salvidar about financial irregularities at the singer's two specialty boutiques, which Salvidar helped manage. There was an argument and Salvidar shot Selena before holding police at bay for 10 hours. The Taurus .38 was purchased legally at a San Antonio gun shop.