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World's Worst Mass Shootings

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Learn about the killers who have terrorized their communities and captured international headlines by going on shooting rampages.

Norway Attacks

(Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Anders Behring Breivik detonated a powerful bomb outside the prime minister's headquarters in Oslo, Norway, on July 22, 2011, and then two hours later opened fire on teens gathered for a Labor Party summer camp on Utoya island. In total, 77 people were killed and 242 injured; the average age of the dead on Utoya was 18 years old, with the youngest victim being just 14. Breivik said in a 1,500-page manifesto posted online shortly before the attacks that he wanted to start a revolution against, among other things, liberal immigration policies that have increased Muslim populations across Europe. He lived with his mother until age 30, and shortly before the attacks bought a farm to be able to buy fertilizer, a bomb ingredient, without arousing suspicion. He had no previous run-ins with the law other than traffic violations. Breivik surrendered to police at the Utoya shooting site and turned his trial into a spectacle and a forum to showcase his manifesto of beliefs, including protesting "Islamic suppression" in the country and views more extreme than the conservative, populist party. Breivik has admitted conducting the attacks but denies criminal guilt, claiming that his actions were part of his crusade.

Virginia Tech Massacre

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Seung-Hui Cho, 23, a senior at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Va., kills 32 people and himself and wounded 25 others in a campus massacre on April 16, 2007. A South Korea native, Cho came to the United States with his family at age 8. He began to be diagnosed with mental disorders in his childhood, including anxiety and depression. Though his abnormal behavior was noted before the massacre, it wasn't addressed in any way that got Cho help for his deterioration. Using two handguns which he bought legally, Cho first shot two people in a dorm. Between the shootings the campus was not locked down, and Cho returned to his dorm room to change and dispose of evidence before mailing a package to NBC News containing video clips, self-portraits, and a manifesto. He then went to a hall with classrooms, chained the three main entrances shut, and began shooting professors and students before killing himself some 12 minutes after the attack began. In total, Cho killed five faculty members and 27 students.

Luby's Cafeteria

George Hennard, a 35-year-old unemployed merchant seaman, committed the deadliest mass shooting in the U.S. until that time. On Oct. 16, 1991, in Killeen, Texas, Hennard drove his pickup truck through the front window of Luby's cafeteria. He walked through the restaurant and shot patrons with one of two handguns, pausing several times to reload. Hennard let one woman with a 4-year-old leave, but killed 23 patrons and wounded 20 others. He shot himself in the head after being cornered and wounded by police officers. The massacre led one of the victims to campaign for concealed carry laws - she had left her gun in her car to comply with Texas gun laws, but both of her parents were shot dead even as she had an opportunity to fire at the gunman.

McDonald's Shootings

The day before the July 18, 1984, shooting, James Oliver Huberty, an out-of-work security guard with experience as an undertaker, called a mental health center in San Diego but his call was not returned. After taking his family to zoo and eating at a McDonald's afterward, Huberty, a survivalist, told his wife he was going out and "hunting humans." He walked into a McDonald's restaurant in San Ysidro, Calif., near the Mexican border with two handguns and a 12-gauge shotgun. During the 77-minute massacre, he killed 21 people ranging in age from 8 months old to 74 years old. He also wounded 19 others. The victims were mostly Mexican or Mexican-American. A police sharpshooter killed Huberty. Huberty's widow tried to sue McDonald's, unsuccessfully claiming that MSG in the chicken nuggets led to her husband snapping.

Tasmania Rampage

This killing spree began with the mass shooting in the seaside resort of Port Arthur in Tasmania, Australia. Martin Bryant, 29, had been stockpiling weapons and ammunition after receiving a substantial estate from a late friend. On April 28, 1996, he targeted a bed-and-breakfast that his father had tried to buy but was bought by another couple first; his dad later fell into depression and committed suicide, and Bryant blamed the "very mean people" who had bought the inn. He first stopped at the Seascape bed and breakfast and killed the couple who had purchased the property. He then went to the Broad Arrow Cafe, sat down and had a meal, then proceeded to shoot 20 people to death in less than two minutes in the cafeteria and neighboring gift shop. He then moved outside and shot more in the tour buses parked outside, then drove out of the parking lot and toward a toll booth; he killed a mother and two children along the roadway trying to flee from the crime scene and killed four in vehicles at the booth. He fired at passing cars as he left the scene and took one hostage whom he would later kill. Bryant was arrested by police after a standoff and charged with the 35 murders; he laughed in court when the charges against him were read. He was sentenced to 35 life terms behind bars plus 1,035 years without the possibility of parole; Bryant has attempted suicide multiple times while incarcerated.

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