Shooting sprees in 2012: Crimesider reports on some of the country's worst public shootings this year
(CBS) On Friday morning, a gunman allegedly opened fire at the Empire State Building, shooting multiple people before being shot and killed by police.
The shooting occurred less than three weeks after a massacre at a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wis., and just over a month after the year's deadliest shooting, when James Holmes allegedly opened fire in movie theater in Aurora, Colo., killing 12 an injuring 58.
And these most recent three shootings were just the latest involving multiple victims in public places this year. From three students killed in Ohio in February, to seven people slaughtered in California in April, to 17 injured in an Alabama bar just three days before Aurora, such public shooting incidents have been far from rare.
Crimesider compiled details on nine of the 2012 shootings, including the Aurora case, determining what kind of weapons were used in each incident, and whether the suspects' firearms were obtained legally.
Our list is not comprehensive - in July, for example, five people were shot at a basketball tournament in New York City; in March, two people were killed and 12 injured in gunfire outside a North Miami funeral home; and in June, three people died and two others were wounded in a shooting outside a Houston nightclub.
We steered away from incidents believed to involve gang violence and those stemming specifically from domestic disputes, identifying situations where armed men (and they are all men) opened fire in a public place, killing and/or maiming those gathered there
1. February 22
Su Jung Health Sauna, Norcross, Ga.
Just days before the Su Jung Health Sauna was set to open, 59-year-old Jeong Soo Paek walked into the spa and shot and killed four people, then turned the gun on himself. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the impetus for the shooting may have been financial. The paper reported that the victims were Paek's sisters and their husbands, from whom Paek wanted money.
Weapon used: .45 caliber pistol
Gun bought legally?: Yes.
According to Captain Brian Harr of the Norcross Police Department, Paek owned the gun legally, but Harr did not know where he had obtained it.
State gun laws: Georgia does not require a background check for the transfer of a firearm between private parties (such as a transaction at a gun show), according to the Law Center for the Prevention of Gun Violence (LCPGV) Ammunition sales are not regulated, nor is the number of firearms purchased at one time limited. According to a report by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, in 2006-2009, Georgia exported more guns used in crimes than any other state.
2. February 27
Chardon High School, Chardon, Ohio
On the morning of Feb. 27, 17-year-old T.J. Lane allegedly walked into the cafeteria of Chardon High School, pulled out a .22 caliber handgun and began shooting at students gathered there before class. Three people were killed and three others wounded. Lane was captured soon after about a mile from the school.
Lane has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. A judge ruled he will be tried as an adult.
Weapon used: .22 caliber pistol
Gun bought legally?: Unclear. The gun did not belong to Lane and Chardon Police Chief Tim McKenna told Crimesider that reports that Lane got the gun from his grandfather's barn are incorrect. However, due to a gag order in the case, he declined to say whose gun it was and whether it was purchased legally.
State gun laws: Ohio requires that a gun owner report if his firearm has been lost or stolen, but does not require background checks for gun sales between private parties, nor does it impose a waiting period on firearm purchases, limit the number of guns that can be purchased at one time, or require gun dealers to obtain a license, according to the LCPGV.
3. March 6
Tulsa Courthouse, Tulsa, Okla.
Three people were wounded when 23-year-old Andrew Joseph Dennehy allegedly opened fire outside the Tulsa County Courthouse on the afternoon of March 6. Dennehy was shot by a police officer at the scene, but not killed. On July 2, Dennehy's defense argued that he had since been examined by a psychiatrist and was suffering from psychotic delusions that render him incompetent to stand trial on charges of shooting with intent to kill and reckless conduct with a firearm.
Weapon used: .357 revolver
Gun bought legally?: No.
Dennehy, whom a court had judged to be delinquent as a juvenile, was prohibited from carrying - let along purchasing - a gun. According to first assistant district attorney Jack Thorpe, there is an ongoing investigation into how Dennehy obtained his weapon.
State gun laws: According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Oklahoma has among the weakest gun laws in the nations, scoring a 2 of 100 on the organization's rating scale. Oklahoma does not require gun owners to obtain a license or register their firearms. No background check is required for purchase of a firearm between unlicensed individuals, and firearms dealers do not need a state license.
In addition, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the state does not require its agencies to add the names of mentally ill individuals to the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
4. March 8
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Around 1:40pm on March 8, police say that John F. Shick, 30, entered the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic and began shooting. One person was killed and seven wounded in the attack. Shick, who had reportedly been diagnosed with schizophrenia, was killed in a shoot-out with police
Weapons used: Shick was armed with two 9mm handguns
Guns bought legally?: No.
According to Alleghany County District Attorney Steve Zappala, Shick bought the weapons he used in New Mexico, which, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, does not require a background check for firearm purchases between private individuals. According to an ATF investigation into the incident, Shick's Beretta 9mm was originally issued to a Texas sheriff's deputy in 1994. The deputy pawned the gun in 2000 and it eventually ended up at a gun show in Albequerque in 2010 where it was bought, without paperwork, and then sold via classified ad a year later. John Karnis, the man who bought the gun via the ad, told the ATF that he placed his own ad in the newspaper when he wanted to sell the gun in April 2011. Shick - who the seller described as "quiet and distant" - bought it from him, without paperwork.
The second firearm, an Arsenal Inc 9mm, was originally purchased in Albequerque in 1995 by a doctor who then sold it to a dealer, who then sold it to Karnis. Karnis sold both the Arsenal and the Beretta to Shick in April 2011.
Zappala said that Shick previously tried to buy a gun in Oregon, but was unable to do so, possibly because he had once been committed to a psychiatric institution there. Because of that, and another such commitment in New York, Shick would not have been able to buy a gun legally in Pennsylvania.
Zappala also said that Shick ordered the ammunition he used from Europe over the internet.
State gun laws: Pennsylvania requires a background check for private purchase of a firearm, but does not impose a limit on the number of firearms that can be purchased at one time, nor does the state impose a waiting period or regulate ammunition sales, according to the LCPGV.
5. April 2
Oikos University , Oakland, Calif.
On April 2, One L. Goh, 43, allegedly killed seven people and injured three more when he opened fire at the small Christian college in Oakland. Goh had been a nursing student at the college which catered to Korean immigrants, before withdrawing in 2011. He was reportedly angry that the college had not refunded several thousand dollars of his tuition.
Goh was arrested after walking into a nearby grocery store and reportedly saying, "I just shot some people." He has pleaded not guilty to seven counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder. Pretrial for the case is scheduled to begin Oct. 1.
Weapons used: A semiautomatic handgun and four magazines of ammunition
Gun bought legally?: Yes.
The gun was purchased in California about two months prior to the shooting, according to the Oakland Police Department.
State gun laws: By most accounts, California has the strictest gun laws in the country. According to the LCPGV, the state imposes a 10-day waiting period on all firearm purchases and in 1999 mandated that waiting periods and other restrictions be extended to purchases made at gun shows. California also bans all large capacity ammunition magazines and most assault weapons and 50 caliber rifles. In 2007, California became the first state to require microstamping of handguns. That's the process of imprinting microscopic characters on firearms that will transfer to bullet casings, thus allowing police to trace bullets found at a crime scene without having to recover the weapon itself.
6. May 30
Cafe Racer, Seattle, Wash.
Just before 11a.m. on May 30, 40-year-old Ian L. Stawicki allegedly started shooting inside a Seattle café near the University of Washington-Seattle campus. Police say Stawicki killed four people inside the café, which was known as a gathering place for local artists and musicians. According to the Seattle Times, police say Stawicki then shot a woman near the Town Hall and stole her SUV. By 4p.m., he had reportedly abandoned the SUV and soon after being surrounded by police, fatally shot himself in the head.
Weapons used: Stawicki was armed with two .45 caliber semiautomatic handguns
Guns bought legally?: Yes.
Stawicki had legally purchased both guns, as well as two others. He also had a valid permit to carry a concealed weapon.
In February 2008 Stawicki was charged with four misdemeanor domestic violence counts, but the charges were later dropped. In her statement, his girlfriend at the time wrote that "starting last winter, he became more violent, breaking my things, losing control of his feelings, there's no pattern." In 2010, he was arrested for allegedly assaulting his brother, though those charges were also dropped, according to the Times.
State gun laws: Washington State does not require background checks for the purchase of a firearm between private parties, according to the LCPGV. The National Rifle Association reports that the state does not require gun buyers to have a license or permit, nor do Washington State gun owners have to register their guns. The state does, according to the LCPGV, prohibit some individuals with records of domestic violence from owning firearms.
7. June 9
Auburn University pool party, Auburn, Ala.
During an afternoon pool party in an apartment complex near the Auburn University campus, 22-year-old Desmonte Leonard allegedly got in an argument over a woman and then opened fire, killing three people and injuring three others. Leonard eluded police for several days, and finally turned himself in on June 12.
Leonard faces three counts of capital murder, two counts of assault have been filed so far, according to the Associated Press.
Weapons used: Unclear. According to Captain Tom Stoffer of the Auburn Police Department, police have found a firearm they believe may have been used in the shooting and have sent it for testing.
Gun bought legally?: Unclear.
State gun laws: Alabama does not require gun owners to register their firearms, nor does the state impose a waiting period or background check on private purchases, according to the LCPGV. The state does not prohibit the sale or transfer of assault weapons or large capacity ammunition magazines. However, according to the NRA, "it is unlawful for a drug addict, habitual drunkard, or one who has been convicted of a crime of violence to own or possess a handgun." Minors are also not permitted to carry or possess handguns.
8. July 17
Copper Top bar, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
During the early morning hours of July 17, 44-year-old Nathan Van Wilkins allegedly opened fire in a crowded bar near the University of Alabama. 17 people were injured in the attack; no one was killed. According to the Tuscaloosa News, less than an hour before he arrived at the bar, Wilkins went to a nearby home and shot at a man inside the house, possibly in a case of mistaken identity.
Wilkins has been charged with 18 counts of attempted murder.
Weapon used: Unclear. According to Sgt. Kip Hart of the Tuscaloosa Sheriff's Department, Wilkins' gun has not yet been recovered, but he believes it was likely an "AK-47-type rifle."
Gun bought legally?: Unclear.
State gun laws: Alabama does not require gun owners to register their firearms, nor does the state impose a waiting period or background check on private purchases, according to the LCPGV. The state does not prohibit the sale or transfer of assault weapons or large capacity ammunition magazines. However, according to the NRA, in Alabama "it is unlawful for a drug addict, habitual drunkard, or one who has been convicted of a crime of violence to own or possess a handgun." Minors are also not permitted to carry or possess handguns.
9. July 20
Century 16 movie theater, Aurora, Colo.
Just after midnight on July 20, police say James Holmes, dressed in black and sporting nearly head-to-toe tactical garb, set off some sort of smoke bomb inside Theater 9 of the Century 16 movie theater. Holmes allegedly began shooting at the audience, who was there to see a premiere of the new Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises." Twelve people were killed, 58 others injured, several of whom are still hospitalized.
Holmes surrendered to police soon after the massacre in the parking lot behind the theater. His apartment was allegedly "booby-trapped," rigged with what the Aurora police chief described as "incendiary and chemical" devices which authorities disabled or detonated.
Holmes is under investigation for first-degree murder and will appear in court on July 31.
Weapons used: Police say Holmes used a semiautomatic AR-15 rifle, a shotgun and a .40 caliber Glock handgun
Guns bought legally?: Yes.
According to Aurora Police Chief Daniel Oates, all three of the guns used in the incident, plus a second Glock allegedly found in Holmes' car, were purchased legally in the state of Colorado. In the weeks leading up to the incident, police say Holmes had purchased 6,000 rounds of ammunition over the internet.
State gun laws: Colorado imposes no waiting period to purchase a firearm, nor does it impose a limit on the number of firearms that can be purchased at one time, according to the LCPGV. The state requires mentally ill individuals who are deemed ineligible for purchasing a firearm to be reported to the federal NICS database. In 2000, in the wake of the Columbine High School massacre, the state used a ballot initiative to close the so-called "gun show loophole," in which private sales do not require a background check. However, the state does not prohibit a person from purchasing assault weapons or large capacity magazines. Colorado gun owners do not have to obtain licenses, register their guns, or report lost or stolen guns.
Additional reporting by Michael Roppolo
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