May 2007 to the Present (PDF is available)
A mass shooting is defined as the killing of three or more people consistent with the federal definition contained in the “Investigative Assistance for Violent Crimes Act of 2012.” The following vignettes describe the circumstances for non-self defense incidents in which private individuals with permits to carry concealed handguns killed three or more persons (not including the shooter) in one incident. The descriptions include the current, known status of any charges filed against the concealed carry killer as reported by news sources as well as noting instances where the perpetrator committed suicide.
The Violence Policy Center welcomes any new information regarding the status of any case (with verifiable source(s)). Use this link to contact the VPC: http://www.vpc.org/contact.htm.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Ryan Clark Petersen CONVICTED
Date: August 9, 2012
People Killed: 3
Circumstances: On August 9, 2012, concealed handgun permit holder Ryan Clark Petersen allegedly shot and killed Cameron Eubanks, 20, Tiffany Grissett, 31, and Thomas Robins, Jr., 39, at Teasers, a nightclub located 12 miles west of Dothan, Alabama. Surveillance videos showed Petersen going outside the club after becoming involved in an altercation with employees and others inside. He is alleged to have retrieved his handgun from his vehicle and, upon his return to the club, pulled the Glock pistol from his coat pocket and fired. According to the prosecution, Petersen lied about his mental and drug issues in order to join the Navy and obtain a pistol permit. Petersen is charged with capital murder.
UPDATE: In December 2016, Ryan Clark Petersen was found guilty of four counts of capital murder in the 2012 shooting at Teasers Nightclub. In January 2017, a jury recommended Petersen be put to death, voting 10-2 for the death penalty following two hours of deliberation.
Source: “Jury recommends death penalty in Wicksburg nightclub murders,” Dothan Eagle, January 5, 2017; “Petersen guilty of capital murder in 2012 Teasers killings,” Dothan Eagle, December 22, 2016; “Valeska shows jury crime scene photos in capital murder trial,” www.wtvy.com, December 7, 2016.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Michael McLendon SUICIDE
Date: March 10, 2009
People Killed: 11 (including shooter)
Circumstances: On March 10, 2009, Michael McLendon, a self-proclaimed survivalist, killed his mother at their family home, beginning a shooting rampage that stretched across 24 miles. By the time McLendon took his own life in the midst of a police shootout at a factory where he had previously worked, he had shot four more relatives, including his 74-year-old grandmother, and five strangers, including the wife and 18-month-old daughter of a local sheriff’s deputy. McLendon had a concealed handgun permit for two handguns. Police later found at the home he shared with his mother numerous how-to DVDs on committing acts of violence.
Source: “Officials: Alabama shooter depressed over failures,” Associated Press at philstar.com, March 13, 2009.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Omar Thornton SUICIDE
Date: August 3, 2010
People Killed: 9 (including shooter)
Circumstances: On August 3, 2010, concealed handgun permit holder Omar Thornton, 34, went on a shooting rampage at the beer distributorship where he worked, killing eight co-workers before taking his own life. The shooting began at a meeting where Thornton, a driver for the distributor, resigned after being shown video evidence of having stolen beer from the company. Then, according one witness in the meeting, “[H]e went out on this rampage. He was cool and calm. He didn’t yell. He was cold as ice. He didn’t protest when we were meeting with him to show him the video of him stealing….He just agreed to resign. And then he just unexplainably pulled out his gun and started blasting.” It was believed that Thornton had hidden the two handguns he used, including a Sturm, Ruger SR9 pistol, in his lunch box. According to his girlfriend’s mother, Thornton had planned to teach her daughter how to use a gun. Thornton had complained of racial harassment at the company but had not filed a complaint with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (the company denied the allegations). On his Facebook page Thornton listed Hoffman’s Gun Center & Indoor Range among his interests. According to documents obtained by the Violence Policy Center from the State of Connecticut, Thornton had a current Connecticut pistol permit that allowed him to carry concealed. The reason for the permit was “job.”
Source: “Man kills 8, self in Connecticut shooting rampage,” Associated Press, August 4, 2010; “Shooter: ‘Tell Everybody I Love Them and Goodbye,’” Associated Press/NBC Connecticut, August 4, 2010; Documents obtained by Violence Policy Center from State of Connecticut Department of Public Safety, September 24, 2010.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Esteban Santiago CONVICTED
Date: January 6, 2017
People Killed: 3
Circumstances: On January 6, 2017, concealed handgun permit holder Esteban Santiago, 26, allegedly opened fire in the baggage claim area of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport killing five and wounding six others. A witness said that the shooter reloaded his Walther 9mm pistol before running out of ammunition. The suspect then sat on the floor and waited to be arrested. The shooter had arrived on a Delta flight from Alaska and had his handgun in his checked baggage. Santiago reportedly had a history of mental health problems. Santiago was held on federal firearms and airport violence charges while awaiting formal charges to be filed.
UPDATE: On May 1, 2018, prosecutors announced they would not seek the death penalty against Esteban Santiago in exchange for his guilty plea in the January 2017 mass shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. In August 2018, the judge overseeing the case formally accepted the plea deal and Santiago was sentenced to five life sentences plus 120 years in prison.
Source: “Airport shooter Esteban Santiago sentenced to five life terms and 120 years in prison,” sun-sentinel.com, August 17, 2018; “Airport shooter Esteban Santiago to plead guilty, spend life in prison,” sun-sentinel.com, May 1, 2018; “Fort Lauderdale airport shooting suspect pleads not guilty,” local10.com, January 30, 2017; “Accused airport shooter Esteban Santiago told his maximum penalty ‘is death’,” Florida Sun Sentinel, January 9, 2017; “Esteban Santiago identified as gunman in Fort Lauderdale shooting,” New York Daily News, January 6, 2017.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Pedro Vargas SHOT AND KILLED DURING INCIDENT
Date: July 27, 2013
People Killed: 6
Circumstances: On July 27, 2013, concealed handgun permit holder Pedro Vargas, 42, shot and killed six people at an apartment complex in Hialeah, Florida before being shot and killed by a police SWAT team. Officials identified those killed by Vargas as: Italo Pisciotti, 79; Camira Pisciotti, 69; Carlos Javier Gavilanes, 33; Patricio Simono, 64; Merly S. Niebles, 51; and, Priscilla Perez, 17. The incident began around 6:30 PM when Vargas lit his apartment on fire by burning $10,000 in cash with a combustible liquid. Vargas’s mother, who was in the apartment at the time, fled to safety. Seeing the smoke, building managers Italo and Camira Pisciotti ran toward the apartment. They were met at the door by Vargas, who shot and killed them both. Vargas then walked out onto his balcony, firing 10 to 20 shots from his Glock 9mm pistol, killing Gavilanes who was standing in the parking lot of an apartment building across the street. Vargas then went one floor down and kicked in an apartment door before shooting Patricio Simono and his girlfriend Merly Niebles. Niebles’ daughter Priscilla hid in the bathtub, but Vargas discovered her and shot and killed her. Vargas then continued firing randomly. Police arrived on the scene and returned fire. Vargas then entered another apartment where he took two hostages. Negotiators talked with Vargas but eventually a SWAT team entered the apartment and killed him, freeing the two hostages. Vargas took a two-hour introduction training course and a four-hour safety course at the Florida Gun Center in the fall of 2010 before obtaining his concealed weapons permit and purchasing a Glock 17 pistol. He reportedly had no known history of violence or mental illness.
Source: “Hialeah police chief details tense moments of hostage rescue,” Miami Herald, July 29, 2013; “Little about Pedro Vargas’ life sheds light on motive for Hialeah massacre,” Miami Herald, July 28, 2013; “Shooter Set $10,000 on Fire in Hialeah Shooting Rampage,” nbc6.com, July 28, 2013.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Gerardo Regalado SUICIDE
Date: June 6, 2010
People Killed: 5 (including shooter)
Circumstances: On June 6, 2010, Gerardo Regalado, 38, committed Hialeah, Florida’s worst mass shooting: killing four women and wounding three others at the Yoyito Cafe-Restaurant, a well-liked local restaurant. Regalado’s target was his estranged wife, Liazan Molina, 24. Armed with a 45 caliber pistol, Regalado fired nine times in a shooting spree that witnesses described as total mayhem. “He came in running, like a crazy man…shooting everybody,” screamed one 911 caller, “He came in running and killing.” Authorities said that Regalado specifically targeted women and shot them at close range. Regalado killed himself after the shooting. He had a concealed handgun permit—even though relatives described him as “pure evil” with a history of abusing women and having served “hard time” in a Cuban prison.
Source: “Shooter had violent past,” WSVN.com, June 11, 2010; “In minutes, rage to rampage in Hialeah mass shooting,” The Miami Herald, June 8, 2010; “Hialeah rampage suspect is half-brother of pitcher ‘El Duque’ Hernandez,” The Miami Herald, June 7, 2010.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Paul Michael Merhige CONVICTED
Date: November 26, 2009
People Killed: 4
Circumstances: On Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 2009, Paul Michael Merhige opened fire at his family’s Thanksgiving dinner shooting six relatives, killing four. The deceased victims were his twin sisters (one of whom was pregnant), his 76-year-old aunt, and a six-year-old cousin. As he left the scene, Merhige was quoted by one witness as saying, “I have been waiting 20 years for this.” Merhige then fled, and was featured on “America’s Most Wanted.” Merhige bought two pistols and a rifle the day before the shooting according to the gun shop owner who sold them to him. Merhige had a concealed handgun permit.
UPDATE: On October 28, 2011, Paul Michael Merhige, 37, pled guilty in the deaths of four family members on Thanksgiving 2009 and was sentenced to seven consecutive life sentences. The father of one of the victims begged the judge not to accept the deal, which allowed Merhige to escape the death penalty, falling to his knees as he addressed the judge before being ordered off the ground by deputies. The judge in the case said the life sentences were the strongest he could impose, telling Merhige, “You’ll never see the light of day.”
Source: “‘You’ll never see the light of day’: Thanksgiving Day killer who murdered four relatives is handed seven life sentences by sickened judge,” The Daily Mail, October 28, 2011; “Thanksgiving Massacre Gun Bought in Fort Lauderdale: Merhige bought three guns a day before killing four family members,” NBC Miami, December 4, 2009; “4 Killed at Dinner; Florida Police Seek Gunman,” New York Times, November 28, 2009.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Guillermo Zarabozo CONVICTED
Date: September 2007
People Killed: 4
Circumstances: On September 22, 2007, Guillermo Zarabozo and Kirby Archer hired Jake Branam, captain of the 47-foot charter boat Joe Cool, his wife and mother of his two children Kelley Branam, and crew mates Scott Gamble and Samuel Kairy to take them from Miami Beach to Bimini in the Bahamas. When the boat did not return to Florida, the Coast Guard was contacted and they found the Joe Cool abandoned roughly 30 miles north of Cuba. Zarabozo and Archer were found the next morning on an inflatable lifeboat about 12 miles away from the Joe Cool. Zarabozo claimed that Cuban hijackers had seized the boat at sea and killed the crew. Archer eventually confessed to killing the Branams on the fly bridge of the boat while Zarabozo killed Gamble and Kairy in the cabin below. Zarabozo worked for private investigation and security companies and had a concealed handgun permit. Four days before chartering the Joe Cool, Zarabozo was accepted as an applicant to become a Miami-Dade police officer.
Zarabozo was found guilty of the four murders and sentenced to five consecutive terms of life imprisonment and an additional 85 years imprisonment to be served consecutively to the life sentences for the first-degree murders of the crew of the Joe Cool.
Source: “Information Issued by U.S. Attorney’s Office for Southern District of Florida on May 6: Defendant Sentenced on Murder Charges in Connection with Joe Cool Voyage,” (May 6, 2009, Press Release), U.S. Fed News, May 18, 2009; “Joe Cool defendant had applied to become a Miami-Dade cop,” Miami Herald, September 17, 2008; “Joe Cool suspect gullible, jury told,” Miami Herald, September 16, 2008; “High seas mystery full of twists, contradictions,” Associated Press, October 15, 2007; “Lost at sea,” Newsweek, September 28, 2007.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Charles Johnston CONVICTED
Date: March 27, 2008
People Killed: 3
Circumstances: On March 27, 2008, former substitute teacher and concealed handgun permit holder Charles Johnston entered Doctors Hospital in Columbus, Georgia, carrying three handguns: a .32, a 380, and a 9mm. Johnson, apparently angered over the care his mother had received while she was in the hospital, came looking for a nurse he know only as “Pete.” Traveling up to the fifth floor intensive care unit where his mother had been treated in 2004 before she died of natural causes, Johnston followed nurse Peter D. Wright after hearing his named called out and shot him in the head and chest, killing him. While leaving the hospital, Johnston shot and killed a 44-year-old administrative assistant. Before leaving the hospital grounds, Johnston shot 76-year-old James David Baker, who had pulled into a parking space facing Johnston’s car. Johnston shot Baker in the head as he got out of his car, perhaps believing him to be a police officer. A plainclothes detective shot Johnston in the shoulder moments later and he was arrested. Johnston was charged with three counts of murder, four counts of aggravated assault on an officer, one count of aggravated assault on a civilian, and one count of possession of a firearm in the commission of a crime.
UPDATE: In June 2009, Charles Johnston pled guilty to the murders of Peter Wright, James Baker, and Leslie Harris. In court, Johnston stated, “I had 72 rounds. I was going to spray the entire 5th floor. I was just that angry.” According to Johnston’s public defender, “He has remorse for the 2nd and 3rd victim that he killed..but has no remorse for killing nurse Wright. He intended to kill him.”
Source: “Charles Johnston pleads guilty,” www.wtvm.com, date unknown; “Ga. Town Reeling From Hospital Slayings,” Associated Press via www.foxnews.com, March 28, 2008; “Information Released About The Weapons Used in Doctor’s Hospital Shooting,” www.wtvm.com, March 28, 2008.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Jason Kenneth Hamilton SUICIDE
Date: May 19, 2007
Total Killed: 4 (including shooter)
Law Enforcement Officers Killed: 1
Circumstances: On May 19, 2007, Jason Kenneth Hamilton, 36, a member of the white supremacist group Aryan Nations, shot and killed his wife, a police officer, and a church sexton, and wounded three others before turning the gun on himself in a shooting spree in Moscow, Idaho. Hamilton had a concealed handgun permit “despite a [previous] domestic violence conviction that should have barred him from owning guns.”
Source: “Shooter Linked to Aryans; Killer also had federal license for automatic weapons,” Spokesman Review, May 23, 2007; “Authorities investigate Hamilton’s gun purchase; Mass killer apparently obtained the automatic weapon late in 2004 or early in 2005; Ambush aftermath,” Lewiston Morning Tribune, May 24, 2007.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Juan Lopez SUICIDE
Date: November 19, 2018
People Killed: 4 (including shooter)
Law Enforcement Officers Killed: 1
Circumstances: On November 19, 2018, concealed handgun permit holder Juan Lopez, 32, shot and killed his ex-fiancee Dr. Tamara O’Neal, 38, pharmacy resident Dayna Less, 24, and Chicago Police Officer Samuel Jimenez, 28, with a Glock 9mm pistol at Mercy Hospital & Medical Center in Chicago. Lopez and Dr. O’Neal, who had recently broken off their engagement, argued in the parking lot of the hospital before Lopez shot and killed Dr. O’Neal. Lopez then shot and killed Less as she stepped off an elevator inside the hospital. Officer Jimenez was shot in the neck during a gun battle with Lopez inside the hospital. Lopez was shot in the abdomen during the gun battle with police before shooting himself in the head. He died at the scene. Lopez obtained a concealed carry permit in 2016. In 2014, his ex-wife obtained an order of protection against him, alleging threats of violence with a gun against her, a neighbor, and a realtor, and alleging that he slept with a pistol under his pillow. Nearly five years prior to the shooting, Lopez threatened to shoot up the Chicago Fire Department Academy and was fired for failing to show up at work while facing allegations of “improper conduct” toward women.
Source: “Mercy Hospital Chicago shooting: Illinois State Police investigating Mercy Hospital shooter’s gun permits,” abc7chicago.com, November 21, 2018; “Gunman who went on rampage at Mercy Hospital had troubled history, particularly with women,” Chicago Tribune, November 20, 2018.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Chandraskhar Sunkara SUICIDE
Date: June 15, 2019
People Killed: 4 (including shooter)
Circumstances: On June 15, 2019, concealed handgun permit holder Chandrasekhar Sunkara, 44, shot and killed his wife Lavanya Sunkara, 41, and their two sons Prabhas, 15, and Suhas, 11, before taking his own life in their home in Des Moines, Iowa. A family friend told media, “We are told that Chandrasekhar (Chandu) had purchased the gun 10-15 days ago when he apparently planned the homicide.” A family member said Sunkara has been depressed due to the ill-health of his older son. Four family members, two adults and two children, were staying in the home as guests, but none were injured.
Source: “Iowa tragedy update: Chandrasekhar Sunkara committed suicide after killing his wife and two children,” indianewengland.com, June 20, 2019; “Hyderabad: Depressed Chandrasekhar Sunkara had bought gun 15 days ago,” deccanchronicle.com, June 19, 2019; “Police: West Des Moines family died of gunshot wounds; man died by suicide,” desmoinesregister.com, June 17, 2019.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Kenneth Allen Keith CONVICTED
Date: September 20, 2013
People Killed: 3
Circumstances: On September 20, 2013, concealed handgun permit holder Kenneth Allen Keith, 48, allegedly shot and killed Michael Hockensmith, 35, his wife Angela Hockensmith, 38, and Daniel Smith, 60, at Gold Games and More, a store owned by the Hockensmiths. Smith was a gold broker who was visiting the store, carrying a briefcase with an estimated $40,000 in cash. Keith allegedly killed the three during the course of a robbery. The shooting happened in the presence of the Hockensmiths’ two children ages nine and 14 months. The nine-year-old called 911 after the shooting, telling the dispatcher that his parents were dead, lying on the floor. Keith, a Pulaski county minister, was charged with three counts of murder and one count of robbery.
UPDATE: On May 26, 2017, Kenneth Allen Keith pleaded guilty to murder, robbery, and burglary charges and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, plus 20 years in prison on each robbery and burglary charge.
Source: “Ex-preacher pleads guilty to murder of three in pawn shop, will serve life without parole,” kentucky.com, May 26, 2017; “Warrants provide more details in Danville triple homicide,” kentucky.com, October 14, 2013.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Ferdarius Shine CONVICTED
Date: February 15, 2013
People Killed: 3
Circumstances: On February 15, 2013, concealed handgun permit holder Ferdarius Shine, 28, allegedly shot and killed his 68-year-old grandmother Geraldine Bates, and his aunt, Santangela Williams, 49. His seven-year-old daughter was also wounded in the shooting. According to police, Shine was at his grandmother’s house when he began acting erratically, “talking about Satan, God, and the Devil,” before opening fire on his grandmother, aunt, and daughter. Bates and Williams died at the house, while his daughter was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. Shine’s mother told police that he is “possessed,” and according to police sources, after the shooting he left the house screaming, “The Devil made me do it.” Early on the morning of February 16, 2013, Shine checked himself into a local hospital for psychiatric evaluation. On February 21, 2013, Shine was charged with two counts of first degree murder, three counts of assault with intent to murder, and one count of felony firearm.
UPDATE: On March 22, 2013, Shine’s seven-year-old daughter Amera Jones died from complications resulting from her gunshot wounds.
UPDATE: In April 2014, Shine was found guilty of first-degree murder in the deaths of Geraldine Bates, Santangela Williams, and Amera Jones. He faces a mandatory penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Source: “Man guilty of mudering daughter, grandma, aunt,” myfoxdetroit.com, April 8, 2014; “Amera Jones, seven-year-old gunshot victim once expected to live, dies,” The Detroit News, March 28, 2013; “Man charged with 2 counts of murder in deaths of aunt, grandmother in Detroit,” Detroit Free Press, February 21, 2013; “Suspect in triple Detroit shooting turns himself in, sought psychiatric evaluation,” clickondetroit.com, February 15, 2013.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Troy Brake CONVICTED
Date: September 29, 2008
People Killed: 4
Circumstances: On September 29, 2008, Troy Brake, 31, shot to death 52-year-old Sharmaine Zimmer, her sons, Tyler (age 17) and Jeremy (age 20), and beat to death Jeremy’s girlfriend, university student Katherine Brown (age 18). Brake once lived next door to the Zimmers and had lived with them for a time while growing up. At trial, the jury was told that Brake shot the Zimmers to death in order to have sex with Brown, and that he then doused the lower half of Brown’s body with gasoline. The Zimmers’ house was set on fire and destroyed. A month after the attack, police arrested Brake for beating up a prostitute and found that a 40 caliber Glock pistol owned by Brake was linked to the earlier murders. Brake, who had a concealed handgun permit, was convicted of first-degree murder in the deaths of the Zimmer family and Katherine Brown. He was also convicted of assault and rape of the prostitute he had attacked.
Source: “Victims’ families applaud investigators, prosecutor after Troy Brake is found guilty of four Wright Township murders,” The Grand Rapids Press, May 28, 2009; “Jurors will have Troy Brake’s testimony to consider Thursday,” The Grand Rapids Press, March 25, 2009.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Andrew Engeldinger SUICIDE
Date: September 27, 2012
People Killed: 7 (including shooter)
Circumstances: On September 27, 2012, concealed handgun permit holder Andrew Engeldinger, 36, armed with a 9mm semiautomatic Glock pistol, shot and killed six people and wounded two at Accent Signage Systems in Minneapolis before taking his own life. At the end of the workday, Engeldinger was informed by two of the company’s managers that he was losing his job. Engeldinger replied, “Oh really,” and pulled his holstered pistol and shot the two men, fatally wounding one and injuring the other. He then proceeded through the workplace, fatally shooting three additional co-workers, some of whom were trying to help other victims, as well as a United Parcel Service delivery man. He then shot another co-worker, who later died in hospital from his wounds. Engeldinger was later found by authorities in the basement of the business, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound from the Glock pistol. Witnesses described Engeldinger as calm during the mass shooting, stating that he didn’t “appear to be moving fast but walking and moving in a normal manner.” Engeldinger had reportedly struggled with mental illness for years. He had purchased his handgun legally in October 2011 from KGS Guns and Ammo in Minneapolis for “around $620.”
Source: “Sixth victim in shooting rampage dies,” MPRnews, October 11, 2012; “Andrew Engeldinger, Minnesota Gunman, Said ‘Oh Really’ Before He Started Shooting,” Associated Press, October 6, 2012; “Minneapolis office shooting suspect: Who was Andrew Engeldinger?,” www.myfoxtwincities.com, September 28, 2012.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Jiverly Wong SUICIDE
Date: April 3, 2009
People Killed: 14 (including shooter)
Circumstances: On April 3, 2009, concealed handgun permit holder Jiverly Wong, 41, walked into the American Civic Association in Binghamton, New York, where he had recently taken an English class, and opened fire, killing 13 former classmates before killing himself. Wong fired 98 shots in approximately one minute from his two pistols, a 9mm and a 45 caliber. Just before the shooting, Wong sent a letter to a Syracuse TV station saying that the police were spying on him, sneaking into his home, and attempting to get into car crashers with him. Wong was granted a concealed carry permit in Broome County, New York in 1997 which was still valid at the time of the shooting as permits issued there, unlike in other parts of the state of New York, do not have to be renewed.
Source: “Wong raised concerns with police in 1990s,” USA Today, April 19, 2009; “Binghamton Killer Kept His Fury Private,” New York Times, April 11, 2009; “Licensed to kill? Gunmen in killings had permits,” Associated Press, April 7, 2009.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Frank Garcia CONVICTED
Date: February 14, 2009
People Killed: 4
Circumstances: On February 14, 2009, Frank Garcia allegedly opened fire with a .40 Glock pistol in the Lakeside Memorial Hospital parking lot in Brockport, New York. He had recently been fired by the hospital. He shot three people there, killing two, before killing a married couple at their home in Canandaigua. Garcia had been denied a permit to carry a pistol three times in the previous 15 years due to previous arrests for assault, harassment, and criminal possession of a weapon, before a judge granted him the ability to carry a concealed weapon in 2007. Garcia faced four charges of murder, and one charge of attempted murder. He was convicted and received a life sentence without possibility of parole for two of the murders, and is awaiting trial on two additional charges of murder and one charge of attempted murder.
Source: “Garcia evidence allowed by judge,” Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, October 31, 2009; “After 3rd try, gun permit OK’d,” Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, February 19, 2009; “Damelio will represent Garcia in Monroe Trial,” Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, July 1, 2009; “Killer gets life for Valentine’s Day rampage in NY,” Associated Press, September 1, 2009.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Craig Stephen Hicks CONVICTED
Date: February 10, 2015
People Killed: 3
Circumstances: On February 10, 2015, concealed handgun permit holder Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, allegedly shot and killed Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, Barakat’s wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19. All three victims were found dead from gunshot wounds to the head in the Finley Forest Condominium complex where Barakat and his wife lived. Hicks also lived in the same complex. According to Hicks’s wife, the shooting may have resulted over an ongoing feud over parking at the condominium complex. She said that Hicks came home Tuesday night and became upset that a car belonging to one of the victims was parked in his parking place. The incident is also being investigated as a possible hate crime because the victims were Muslim. According to an attorney for Hicks’s wife, Hicks was a “champion” of “Second Amendment rights.” Hicks turned himself in to authorities and was charged with three counts of first-degree murder.
UPDATE: On June 12, 2019, Craig Hicks pleaded guilty to three counts of first degree murder, as well as a charge of shooting into an occupied dwelling. He was sentenced to three consecutive counts of life in prison without parole on the murder charges, plus 64-89 months in prison on the charge of shooting into an occupied dwelling.
Source: “BREAKING: Craig Hicks pleads guilty to murder of three Muslim students,” dailytarheel.com, June 12, 2019; “Wife of alleged NC killer: He ‘believed everyone was equal’,” cbsnews.com, February 11, 2015; “Wife of triple-shooting suspect said crime not motivated by bias,” wral.com, February 11, 2015; “Three Muslims killed in shooting near UNC; police, family argue over motive,” Washington Post, February 11, 2015.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: William Maxwell SUICIDE
Date: November 2, 2009
People Killed: 4 (including shooter)
Circumstances: On November 2, 2009, William Maxwell shot and killed his wife Kathryn and their teenage children Conner and Cameron before killing himself. Neighbors could not say what drove a local businessman and basketball coach at the religious school where his teenagers attended classes to murder his family. Friends described the Maxwells as active churchgoers and good neighbors. Earlier on the day of the shooting, friends and relatives had gathered at the family’s home to “see if they could lift the normally happy dad from his funk.” Maxwell obtained a concealed handgun permit in January 2008.
Source: “Friends tried to help NC man who killed family,” The Associated Press, November 5, 2009; “Police: NC father killed wife, 2 children, self,” The Associated Press, November 3, 2009.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Terrance Hough Jr. CONVICTED
Date: July 4, 2007
People Killed: 3
Circumstances: On July 4, 2007, firefighter Terrance Hough Jr. used a 40 caliber pistol to shoot and kill neighbor Jacob Feichtner as well as Bruce Anderson and Katherine Rosby as a result of a dispute over fireworks the three were setting off. Hough also shot and injured Donny Walsh and Katherine Nicholas. Police seized 12 firearms from Hough’s home after his arrest. Hough’s fellow firefighters described him as a “ticking time bomb that finally exploded,” and one noted, “I hope I’m off the day Hough snaps.” Hough, who had received his concealed handgun permit in 2004, was convicted of three counts of aggravated murder and two counts of attempted murder and was sentenced to life in prison with no parole.
Source: “Judge denies bail for man charged in July Fourth slayings,” Associated Press, July 9, 2007; “Hough Guilty, Could Get Death Penalty,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 16, 2008; “Firefighter gets life sentence in killings over fireworks,” Associated Press, May 22, 2008; “Hough known for bursts of anger,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, July 7, 2007; “Firefighter in fatal shootings may face death penalty,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, August 8, 2007.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Jordan Witmer SUICIDE
Date: January 24, 2019
People Killed: 4 (including shooter)
Circumstances: On January 24, 2019, concealed handgun permit holder Jordan Witmer, 21, fatally shot Dean Beachy, 61, and his son Steven Beachy, 19, at P.J. Harrigan’s Bar and Grill at the Ramada Inn in State College, Pennsylvania. The Beachys, auctioneers from Ohio, were visiting for a horse auction and had attempted to intervene when Witmer and his former girlfriend, Nicole Abrino, 21, were arguing. Abrino was also shot by Witmer, but survived the attack. After fleeing the scene and crashing his car roughly a mile away, Witmer then shot through a sliding glass door of a nearby house. Once inside, he shot and killed George McCormick, 82, before killing himself. His wife, also home at the time, called the police after hiding in a locked room. It was the night of the McCormicks’ 60th wedding anniversary. It was later determined that Witmer had pled guilty to three misdemeanors related to a drunk driving crash just 10 days before the shootings.
Source: “Details emerge about shooting rampage near Penn State,” tucsonnewsnow.com, January 26, 2019; “Vigil to be held for victims of State College shooting,” wjactv.com, January 26, 2019; “Fatal State College shootings: The timeline, the victims, the shooter and more,” pennlive.com, January 26, 2019.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Robert Bowers PENDING
Date: October 27, 2018
People Killed: 11
Circumstances: On October 27, 2018, concealed handgun permit holder Robert Bowers, 46, allegedly opened fire at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania during Saturday-morning services, killing 11 people and injuring six, including four law enforcement officers. Bowers, who was armed with a Colt AR-15 assault rifle and three Glock pistols, was wounded and captured by police. Upon his capture, he told a SWAT officer, “I just want to kill Jews.” Bowers faces at least 23 state charges including homicide, attempted homicide, and aggravated assault against police officers, as well as an additional 29 federal charges of hate crimes and civil rights violations.
Source: “Pittsburgh synagogue shooting: What we know, questions that remain,” USA Today, October 29, 2018; “’They showed his photo, and my stomach just dropped’: Neighbors recall synagogue massacre suspect as a loner,” washingtonpost.com, October 28, 2018; “What to know about Pittsburgh synagogue shooting suspect Robert Bowers,” time.com, October 28, 2018; “Grieving Pittsburgh Mourns Victims of Synagogue Attack,” Wall Street Journal, October 28, 2018.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Kevin M. Cleeves CONVICTED
Date: July 27, 2012
People Killed: 3
Circumstances: On July 27, 2012, concealed handgun permit holder Kevin M. Cleeves, 35, allegedly shot and killed his wife, Brandi N. (Killingsworth) Cleeves, 25, her boyfriend, Vincent Luke Santucci, Jr., 28, and Rosemary Holma (Santucci’s mother), 55, in the driveway of the home that Santucci shared with his mother. Cleeves had apparently gotten into an argument with the victims while meeting them to pick up his daughter. Cleeves then reportedly fled with his four-year-old daughter, Leia. He was captured seven hours latter in a Youngstown, Ohio, suburb. A Glock handgun was found in his car. Cleeves’ carry permit listed “self-defense” as his reason to carry and the permit had been renewed on February 22. Cleeves was charged with three counts of criminal homicide and additional charges.
UPDATE: On May 10, 2013, Kevin M. Cleeves pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree murder and was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences without parole. He was also required to pay $1,500 in fines and $30,869.46 in restitution.
Source: “Triple murderer Kevin Cleeves gets life without parole,” therecordherald.com, May 11, 2013; “Three life sentences, no chance for parole for Kevin Cleeves in Quincy Killings,” Chambersburg Public Opinion, undated; “Man charged in Quincy triple slaying returned to Pa. From Ohio,” herald-mail.com, August 6, 2012; “Update: Additional Charges brought against Kevin Cleeves,” fox43.com, July 28, 2012.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: George Sodini SUICIDE
Date: August 4, 2009
People Killed: 4 (including shooter)
Circumstances: On August 4, 2009, George Sodini, 48, opened fire at an LA Fitness Center in Collier, Pennsylvania, killing three women and wounding nine others before turning the gun on himself. Sodini entered the club shortly before 8:00 PM armed with two 9mm pistols with 30-round magazines, a .45 pistol, and a .32 pistol. He was also carrying two additional 30-round magazines in a gym bag. Sodini then walked into an exercise class where an aerobics class was underway and turned the lights off. He then walked further into the room and started firing, emptying one of his 9mm pistols. Drawing the second 9mm, he opened fire again, stopping with 12 rounds still in the magazine. Sodini fired at least 36 rounds from his two 9mm pistols before shooting himself in the head with the .45 handgun. The entire episode lasted approximately one minute. A note recovered from Sodini’s bag complained about being rejected by women and expressed his hatred toward them. Detectives found four rifles and shotguns in his house as well as a typewritten note in which Sodini said he planned to kill himself. Sodini had a concealed handgun permit and legally possessed the guns used in the shooting. In his blog, Sodini revealed that he had attempted to carry out the shooting on a prior occasion, entering the club with loaded weapons, but did not go through with the attack. In the journal he also expressed rage at family members and frustration at not being able to “connect” with women. The day before the shooting he wrote, “I took off today, Monday, and tomorrow to practice my routine and make sure it is well polished. I need to work out every detail, there is only one shot….Total effort needed. Tomorrow is the big day.”
Source: “LA Fitness shooter had lethal plan,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 6, 2009.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Richard Poplawski CONVICTED
Date: April 4, 2009
People Killed: 3
Law Enforcement Officers Killed: 3
Circumstances: On April 4, 2009, white supremacist Richard Poplawski shot and killed police officers Stephen Mayhle, Paul Sciullo, and Eric Kelly while injuring another. Among the guns used in the shootout by Poplawski were an AK-47 assault rifle, a pistol, and a shotgun. He had a concealed handgun permit despite a former girlfriend having obtained a protection-from-abuse order against him. Poplawski’s mother told police that he had been “stockpiling guns and ammunition…because he believed that as a result of the economic collapse, the police were no longer able to protect society.” She additionally stated that “her son ‘only liked police when they were not curtailing his constitutional rights, which he was determined to protect.’” Poplawski was charged with three counts of criminal homicide and one count of aggravated assault. He pled not guilty. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
UPDATE: On June 26, 2011, Poplawski was found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder as well as 25 other crimes. He was sentenced to death.
Source: “Poplawski is sentenced to death; police clap for jury,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 28, 2011; “Poplawski guilty on all counts,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 26, 2011; “Poplawski bought guns through shop in Wilkinsburg,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 7, 2009; “Who is Richard Poplawski? Friends, Family Talk About Pittsburgh Suspect in Police Officers’ Triple-Killing,” ThePittsburghChannel.com, April 6, 2009; “Pittsburgh police shooting arraigned by computer,” Associated Press at philly.com, June 1, 2009
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Paul Clifford Moore Jr. CONVICTED
Date: May 21, 2012
People Killed: 3
Circumstances: On May 21, 2012, concealed handgun permit holder Paul Clifford Moore Jr., 53, shot and killed his wife, Christina Moore, 39, her twin sister, Bridgette Stagnolia, 39, and his wife’s lover, Amber Snellings, 24. Moore had learned two months earlier that his wife was having an affair with Snellings and reportedly bought a gun and threatened to kill Snellings. On the day of the murder, Moore shot Snellings three times in a bedroom in his apartment and then shot both his wife and Stagnolia twice: once in the forehead and once in the back of the head. Moore was charged with three counts of first degree murder. The prosecutor called the killings “the most unmerciful conduct this court has ever seen.” In January 2014, Moore was convicted of three counts of second degree murder and in March 2014, Moore was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Source: “Powell man gets 30 years in triple killing,” Knoxville News-Sentinel, March 27, 2014; “Testimony outlines carnage in 2012 triple slaying,” Knoxville News-Sentinel, January 23, 2014; “Defendant in slayings challenges use of testimony from victim’s daughter,” Knoxville News-Sentinel, January 21, 2014.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Michael Joe Hood CONVICTED
Date: March 27, 2010
People Killed: 3
Circumstances: On March 27, 2010, concealed handgun permit holder Michael Joe Hood, 49, shot and killed his sister Susan Hood Binkley, 44, her ex-husband Dale Binkley, 42, and their 13-year-old son Jackson Binkley. All four shared a house in Cheatham County. Sheriff John Holder told reporters that police were looking at two motives for the mass shooting. The first was a possible disagreement over recycling aluminum cans: Hood had placed a sign on the family’s refrigerator to collect the cans, but it had been removed. The second possible scenario was an argument over the family dog. Family members said Hood had a history of mental illness. Dale Binkley’s sister Pamela told reporters, “I don’t understand why someone who has a history of mental illness can have a legal permit to carry a gun….The police and the authorities are telling me he had permits to carry the guns that killed my loved ones. And he was on medicine, medication for mental illness. You tell me how, how does this happen?” Hood was charged with three counts of first-degree murder.
UPDATE: In June 2010 Hood pleaded guilty to the three murders and received three consecutive life sentences. Family member Pamela Binkley, who is now raising the two orphaned daughters of Dale and Susan Binkley, told the Tennessean that she planned to fight for tougher laws on getting gun permits.
Source: “Hood pleads guilty to murders,” Tennessean.com, June 16, 23010; “Murder suspect has been under suicide watch,” Tennessean.com, April 7, 2010; “3 Family Members Killed In Cheatham County,” WSMV.com, March 27, 2010; Database of Tennessee Handgun Carry Permits, The Commercial Appeal.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Tan Do SUICIDE
Date: July 23, 2011
People Killed: 6 (including shooter)
Circumstances: On July 23, 2011, concealed handgun permit holder Tan Do, 35, opened fire at his son’s 11th birthday party being held at the Forum Roller World in Grand Prairie, Texas, killing the boy’s mother and four members of her family before taking his own life. The rink was closed for the private party which was attended by approximately 30 family and friends. Do asked his children to leave the area before he began the attack. According to news reports, Do’s wife had obtained a protective order against him in December 2010 but had withdrawn it later against a prosecutor’s advice “because she wanted to give him another chance.” Do was reported to have been a domestic abuser who had threatened his wife with firearms. Walt Hedrick, owner of the roller rink, told reporters, “Kids were having fun and all of a sudden Bang! Bang! Bang!”
Source: “Police Offer Counseling After Roller Rink Rampage,” publicbroadcasting.net, July 25, 2011; “‘I hope I’m making the right decision’: Wife of Texas gunman withdrew protection order against him months before he shot her and family dead at son’s roller rink birthday party,” MailOnline, July 25, 2011.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Justin Matern SUICIDE
Date: December 17, 2009
People Killed: 4 (including shooter)
Circumstances: On December 17, 2009, Justin Matern shot and killed his wife and two sons, ages six and four, before turning the gun on himself. Matern killed his family members at the apartment his wife had moved into after leaving him. Prior to the shooting, Matern wrote a note he left at work describing his plans. He also sent text messages after the killings. The couple had experienced money problems including state-imposed tax liens in 2004 and 2008. Relatives said that Matern was distraught over the separation from his wife. Matern’s daughter said that he obtained his concealed handgun permit when the family had previously lived in a Salt Lake City neighborhood that he feared was unsafe.
Source: “Murdered family had money troubles, anxieties,” Salt Lake Tribune, December 19, 2009.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Christopher Speight CONVICTED
Date: January 19, 2010
People Killed: 8
Circumstances: On January 19, 2010, Christopher Speight shot and killed eight people including his sister and her husband, their 15-year-old daughter and four-year-old son, as well as two teenagers aged 15 and 16. The incident began when police responded to reports of a wounded man on the side of an unpaved road. Sheriff’s deputies then found seven more bodies. As police converged on the scene, Speight fired a high-powered rifle at least four times at a state police helicopter, rupturing its gas tank and forcing it to land. Speight was described by co-workers as a handyman, construction worker, and security guard who had a longtime fascination with guns and a fear of government conspiracies. Speight enjoyed target shooting at a range on his property. According to neighbors, prior to the shooting Speight began shooting daily on his range, including high-powered rifles. Speight, troubled about a perceived family dispute over a house and land, owned as many as 40 guns and was said to be very skilled with weapons. A bomb squad discovered a “multitude” of explosive devices in Speight’s home. Speight had a concealed handgun permit issued in 1999. His most recent application was filed in January 2009 which was “seen and agreed to” by the Appomattox Commonwealth’s Attorney and approved by a circuit court judge. The day after the shooting Speight, wearing a bulletproof vest, surrendered to police. Speight was initially charged with one count of murder, and more murder charges were expected to be forthcoming.
UPDATE: On February 15, 2013, Christopher Speight pleaded guilty to three counts of capital murder, one count of attempted capital murder of a police officer, and five firearms counts.
Source: “Va. Man charged with killing 8 pleads guilty,” Associated Press, February 15, 2013; “Appomattox rampage suspect faces murder count,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, January 21, 2010; “Attorney: Va. killing suspect had mental problems,” Associated Press, January 21, 2010.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Aaron Poseidon Jackson SUICIDE
Date: May 5, 2008
People Killed: 4 (including shooter)
Circumstances: On May 5, 2008, Aaron Poseidon Jackson, 24, shot and killed his two children, one-year-old Aaron Neptune Jackson and two-year-old Nicole Aaron Jackson, and their mother Latasha Nicole Thomas, before taking his own life. Jackson, who had a concealed handgun permit, was wearing body armor and was surrounded by guns and ammunition when police found him dead in their home in the Walt Lou Trailer Park. Jackson shot his wife with an AK-47 type WASR-10 assault rifle. He shot his children, found in a crib in a bedroom they shared, with a Smith & Wesson .38 revolver. Jackson killed himself with the revolver. Police later searched the trailer and seized at least seven guns, six knives, a machete, a sword, and numerous boxes of ammunition.
Source: “Police: Man killed children and their mother before turning gun on himself,” fredericksburg.com, May 6, 2008; Stafford County Sheriffs Office Incident Report.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Dennis Clark III SHOT AND KILLED DURING INCIDENT
Date: April 21, 2013
People Killed: 4
Circumstances: On April 21, 2013, concealed handgun permit holder Dennis Clark III, 27, shot and killed four people before being killed by police. The shootings began when Clark shot and killed his girlfriend Justine Baez, 24, in the apartment they shared in Federal Way, Washington. According to police, after leaving the apartment, Clark confronted Ceasar Valdovinos, 23, and Bradley Fischer, 47, and argued with them before fatally shooting them both. Roland Scobee, 62, reportedly heard the commotion and went outside to investigate before retreating back to his apartment to call 911. Clark then broke his door down with a shotgun and killed him. According to Federal Way Police Chief Brian Wilson, officers responding to the shootings were confronted by Clark wielding a shotgun in a stairway. Officers fired at Clark but he fled to a parking lot. As officers again approached Clark he reached for a handgun and officers opened fire, killing Clark.
Source: “Last victim ID’d from Federal Way apartment shooting,” The News Tribune, April 30, 2013; “Man killed live-in girlfriend, 3 others in Washington apartment shooting, police say,” Associated Press, April 22, 2013.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Ian Stawicki SUICIDE
Date: May 30, 2012
People Killed: 6 (including shooter)
Circumstances: At approximately 11:00 AM on May 30, 2012, concealed handgun permit holder Ian Stawicki, 40, opened fire at Café Racer in Seattle’s University District, killing four of the restaurant’s patrons. Stawicki had been banned from the Café as the result of past behavior and was reminded of that when he returned that morning. According to a news report quoting a Café employee who was the only person shot who survived, “It was clear…that Stawicki wanted everyone dead, shooting the victims once and `then he double-tapped everyone.’” Stawicki, armed with two 45 caliber handguns, then left the restaurant and 30 minutes after the shooting confronted Gloria Leonidas, a mother of two. Stawicki fatally shot Leonidas and stole her Mercedes SUV. The vehicle was eventually found abandoned by police, with a gun on the seat. While searching the area law enforcement came upon Stawicki, who, when ordered to drop his weapon, put the gun to his head and fatally shot himself. Stawicki had suffered from mental illness for years. His family, fearing for his deteriorating mental condition, tried unsuccessfully to have his carry permit revoked. Said his father, “The response to us was, there’s nothing we can do, he’s not a threat to himself or others, or we haven’t had a report of it, or we haven’t had to pick him up—call us when it’s worse. And now it’s too late—much worse now, six people are dead.”
Source: “Survivor of Café Racer massacre speaks about shooting,” mynorthwest.com, June 12, 2012; “Seattle gun massacre hero reveals he vowed to ‘never hide under the table’ after brother died in 9/11,” The Daily Mail, June 1, 2012; “Seattle Café Shooter Kills 5, and Himself After Citywide Manhunt,” abcnewsgo.com, May 31, 2012; “Family: Seattle gunman had a concealed weapon permit,” komonews.com, May 31, 2012.
Concealed Handgun Permit Holder: Aaron Alexis SHOT AND KILLED DURING INCIDENT
Date: September 16, 2013
People Killed: 13 (including shooter)
Circumstances: On September 16, 2013, concealed handgun permit holder Aaron Alexis, 34, shot and killed 12 people at an office building at the Navy Yard in Washington, DC. Alexis entered the building with a Remington 870 shotgun hidden in his backpack. At around 8:15 AM, Alexis emerged from a men’s room on the fourth floor of the building and began firing indiscriminately, killing 12 workers. By 8:34 AM, Alexis was involved in a firefight with as many as seven teams of law enforcement officers. Alexis was able to use a fourth floor balcony wall as concealment as he fired his shotgun from the balcony down through the building’s atrium. While police at one point thought there may have been more than one shooter, Alexis acted alone and was killed by police at approximately 10:13 AM. Alexis purchased his Remington 870 shotgun and two boxes of shells from Sharpshooters Small Arms Range in Newington, Virginia, just two days before the shooting. Alexis had a concealed carry permit from Texas and had previously held one issued in the state of Washington.
Source: “Inside Sharpshooters, the Newington gun store where Aaron Alexis bought his shotgun,” The Washington Post, September 18, 2013; “Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis carved an indiscriminate path through Building 197,” The Washington Post, September 17, 2013; “Officials: Navy Yard shooter ID’ed as Aaron Alexis,” Associated Press, September 16, 2013.