Guest Author - Vance R. Rowe
The silicon chip inside her head gets switched to overload.
And nobody's gonna go to school today, she's going to make them stay at home. - from the song, “I Don't Like Mondays” by The Boomtown Rats.
On January 29, 1979, sixteen year old Brenda Spencer used a rifle to shoot eight children, injure a policeman, and kill the school principal and a custodian, at the Grover Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego, California. She lived in squalor across the street from the school with her father after her parents separated.
Brenda Spencer was a troubled youth who hated school and was often truant. In early 1978, Spencer was ordered to attend a special school for problem children and the staff told her father that she was depressed and suicidal. She even told acquaintances that she didn't like police and even talked about killing one. She also said that she wanted to do something big to get on television. In the summer of 1978, Brenda Spencer was arrested for shooting birds in her neighborhood with a BB gun and for also shooting out some windows at the Grover Cleveland Elementary school.
In December of 1978, Brenda Spencer's probation officer ordered her to undergo psychiatric counseling for her depressed state of mind and the psychiatrist recommended that she be put in a mental institution but her father refused to allow it. Later on, while she was incarcerated after the school shooting, she underwent tests and it was determined that there was damage to her front temporal lobe of her brain, caused due to a bicycle accident she had when she was younger. She had asked her father for a radio for Christmas but he got her a .22 caliber rifle with a scope instead. When asked why her father did this, she said that she didn't know but thought it was because her father wanted her to kill herself.
The children at the school were standing outside that January morning, waiting for the principal to open up the gate to let them into the school. After the shooting, she had barricaded herself inside the house for hours. a reporter got through to her on the telephone while barricaded in the house. The reporter asked her why she did it and her reply was, “I don't like Mondays. It livens up the day.”
Brenda Spencer was tried as an adult and was convicted of two counts of murder and assault with a deadly weapon, after pleading guilty and was sentenced to 25 years to life. Her last parole hearing was in 2009 and was denied. The Parole Board said that the next time she would be eligible is in 2019.
Bob Geldof, songwriter and lead singer of the Boomtown Rats, read that she had this and he began writing the song based on her answer. The song went to number one in the group's native Ireland but never broke the Top 40 in the United States. The song did get extensive radio play though and the Spencer family tried to get it off of the radio, to no avail.