Before Adam Lanza, who perpetrated the “Sandy Hook Massacre,” there was Patrick Purdy and the “Stockton Massacre.” Patrick was born in Tacoma, Washington in 1964. When just 2-years-old, Patrick’s mother divorced his father after he threatened her with a gun. As a student in Cleveland Elementary School, he soon turned to alcohol in an attempt to alleviate his problems. After slapping his mother in the face, he was thrown out of her home and was homeless for several months before being placed in foster care. Patrick was eventually adopted by a family and shortly thereafter, started to take hard drugs as a coping mechanism.
When Patrick was 17-years-old, his father died in a traffic collision and Patrick soon started to accuse his mother of stealing money that was left behind for him. Throughout his adolescence, he was in and out of trouble with the law. He was a known drug addict and as a way to finance his drug addiction, he turned to prostitution. He was arrested on several occasions, from drug dealing to robbery, he was seemingly constantly serving a sentence for something. On one stint, he attempted suicide and was diagnosed as having “‘mental retardation.” After his release in 1987, he started to collect books on white supremacy and could often be heard complaining about the high volume of Asians in the area he lived as well as San Joaquin Delta College where he attended welding classes. Friends would later describe Patrick as suicidal, adding that he seemed to have a particular hatred for those of Asian descent, adding that he never came across as violent. His apartment in Stockton, California, was filled with toy soldiers - he was peculiar, they said, but nothing hinted he was dangerous. He often complained he was upset that he never made anything of himself and was a failure. On 17 January, 1989, an anonymous caller contacted Stockton Police Department and warned them that the young pupils of Cleveland Elementary School, Patrick’s old school, would be dead. Nevertheless, classes carried on as usual but that day would be anything other than “usual.”
At approximately noon, Patrick parked his car behind the school. His car was packed with fireworks which he then set alight, causing his car to explode. From here he walked to the school playground, armed with a semi-automatic rifle, he shot indiscriminately. Within three minutes, he shot 106 rounds, killing five children and wounding another 30. All of the children who were killed and a vast majority of the injured were of Cambodian or Vietnamese descent. The parents of these children had immigrated to America in search of pastures green. After the shooting, Patrick shot himself dead.
The shocking murders begged the question: “How could a man with a history such as Patricks, walk into a gun store and leave with an AK-47, no questions asked?” The sole purpose of weapons such as this is to end human life, so why was he so easily able to purchase one? Following the murders, measures were taken to ban assault weapons in California, paving the way to the Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act or 1989.