Tell me why?
I don’t like Mondays.
I want to shoot
The whole day down.
- The Boomtown Rats
“I Don’t Like Mondays”
People always joke at the beginning of the week about having a “case of the Mondays.” On January 29, 1979, San Diego teenager Brenda Ann Spencer took her Monday morning angst way too far.
Right as classes were about to begin at Grover Cleveland Elementary in the San Diego suburbs, the crack of a rifle shot overpowered the school bell ringing and the chatter of the kids preparing to enter the school.
Children were falling to the ground, bleeding and screaming. Bullets were seemingly coming from nowhere. It wasn't immediately apparent that a sniper was deliberately aiming at the kids from one of the houses across the street.
The school’s principal, Burton Wragg, rushed outside to help the injured children and get the others inside to safety and was shot in the chest. When the janitor attempted to aid the dying man, he too was shot. Faculty and students barricaded themselves within the building, while nurses did what they could to tend the wounded.
When the first police officer arrived on the scene, he was shot in the neck. The carnage didn’t abate until another police officer and a security guard procured a garbage truck and parked it in front of the school, blocking the sniper’s line of sight.
A reporter dialed the phone number of the house the police had identified as belonging to the sniper. To his surprise, someone answered. On the other end of the line was 16-year-old Brenda Ann Spencer, a truant, drug user — and sharpshooter. After admitting that she was the one responsible for the shootings, the reporter asked her the obvious question:
“I don’t like Mondays. This livens up the day,” She replied.
That wasn’t Spencer’s only ghoulishly off-the-wall statement during a six-hour stand-off with the police. According to police reports, Spencer shared such verbal gems as “There was no reason for it, and it was just a lot of fun,” “It was just like shooting ducks in a pond,” and “the children looked like a herd of cows standing around, it was really easy pickings.”
Two people died that day, and eight others were injured.
Brenda’s case never went to trial. She accepted a guilty plea of two counts of first-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon. She was sentenced to 25-years-to-life, with the possibility of parole after 25 years served.
Aside from her chilling comments made during the stand-off the day of the crime, Spencer had remained silent about any motive or provocation for the 1979 shootings. Then,14 years later, she claimed that during the crime she was drunk on whiskey and high on angel dust and pot. Her assertion was not backed up by the 1979 toxicology report, which showed that at the time of the shootings Brenda was sober. She also made the claim that her father had been abusive to her.
By her 2005 parole hearing, she claimed she had no recollection of the event at all.
Her next hearing will be in 2021.
Brenda Spencer’s crime and her bizarre justification for committing it (I Don’t Like Mondays) was the inspiration for Bob Geldolf’s band The Boomtown Rats song of the same name. It’s important to remember that in 1979, school shootings were still incredibly RARE. There was a creepiness to the crime — and the song — that people who have grown up in a post-Columbine world sadly cannot understand.
Some call her the “mother” of such horrible massacres. In 2001 Spencer herself wondered if she’s to blame for the glut of teenage monsters shooting up schools.
“With every school shooting, I feel I’m partially responsible,” she said. “What if they got the idea from what I did?”
Why give her the satisfaction of any further notoriety, merited or not?
And, last but not least, Here’s Saint Bob weighing in: